“‘I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.’ And he worshiped the LORD there.”
“The only thing that will make growing up psychologically safe for our sons is for them to know that we value them and that we love them, and that we have every confidence that they will grow naturally into good men.”
I am a boy mom; I have three of them. Even now that I also have a daughter, I still consider myself pretty much a boy mom. And since the day my oldest was born 12 years ago, I have known in my core that there is something immeasurable about the power of a strong mother-son bond. In fact, a strong mother-son bond is now measurably found to improve brain growth in the areas of memory and learning, to decrease levels of depression, to increase self-esteem, and to help boys build empathy and a high level of emotional intelligence. This is a powerful and beautiful bond meant to facilitate our precious boys to become kind, strong, and godly men. So we know the bond is there. We know the bond is important.
Here are four ways my kids advised me to help make the irreplaceable mother-son bond stronger.
Boys communicate differently than we do! When I asked my oldest his advice on this article, he shrugged and continued with his snack. A while later, long after I thought the conversation had finished, he came up to me and listed multiple (fabulous) ways he thought moms could grow in their relationships with their sons. As moms, we need to observe specific ways that our boys share non-verbally when something is on their minds and let them know we are available and want to hear from them about their hearts whenever they are ready.
From as early as possible, moms can empower our boys with the invaluable tool of emotional language to help communicate how they feel. From teaching our toddlers to “use your words” and “tell us how you feel,” to not accepting grunts and sulking as acceptable answers from our older boys, we can give our sons the greatest lessons in communication by communicating with them.
To be healthy communicators with us and others, our boys need to learn to listen just as much as talk. The best way to teach this is to *actually listen to them! *We cannot pretend to listen to our boys and then expect them to listen well. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted or listen half heartedly and then expect our boys to treat us or others any differently. We need to ask specific questions that will lead to depth from our sons and then actually listen when they respond.
When I asked my second son how we can bond better, he immediately said, “Spend more time together.” I was not surprised—this boy lights up whenever we get together time, and so do I. Spending quality time with our sons is priceless, yet in our busy lives, it is not an easy task to accomplish. Sometimes this call can feel overwhelming or like another area where we come up short as moms. Our bond with our sons, though, grows with tiny pursuits as well as grand ones. Pursuing him can look as simple as putting down our phones and making eye contact. It can be a special inside joke or an authentic smile in a busy room of people. Sure, the ice cream dates and dinner/movie nights are a treat, but pursuing our sons in big *and small *ways are a sure path to a stronger mother-son connection.
My third son did not give me any points for my article but instead was desperate to read and explain the comic book that he had just finished creating. As he was showing me his comic book,I knew he was giving me his answer. We moms spend so much of our time teaching and guiding our boys. To connect more than teach, we need to switch roles and learn more about our sons. We can ask him to teach us the rules of a sport he loves that we have never played, hear about what he has just finished reading, or learn the brand new vocabulary of Minecraft or Fortnite or Lego Ninjago. In doing so, we are validating our son as young men and helping them develop a sense of self separate from us, which is crucial to them becoming confident men of God.
My fourth is a girl, but she guided me straight into my fourth point when I asked her what her favorite part of our bond was. After I explained to her what a bond actually was, she exclaimed, “The cuddles!” It is the same with our boys, although they may not be as apt to shout it from the rooftops. Even when the days of mom rocking baby boy to sleep have passed and lap-time reading is gone, our boys still desire our physical touch and nurturing. Our boys grow towards independence (and we want this!), but we cannot mistake that growth for any type of rejection of us. It is up to us to pursue our boys, to hug them, to show them affection…even when they shrug us off.
As our children grow, I realize more and more how small a part of the equation I play in whether or not our kids grow to love God. In His goodness, God raises our children; I am simply called to teach them about Him, pray for them, instruct them, and mostly, to *love *them. Moms are given the gracious gift of a powerful maternal bond that shows itself very clearly in our relationships with their sons. And by pursuing God in our own lives and loving our boys the best we know how, we moms allow God to use us in the lives of our precious boys.
To Him be all Glory and Honor.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Presbyterian Day School (PDS) is a private, Christian preschool and elementary school serving boys from 2-years-old through 6th grade for almost 75 years.
With our mission of striving to glorify God by developing boys in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man, we take a holistic approach to education, nurturing the heart, soul, mind, and body of each boy.