January 30, 2008
Be the Man
By Van Walton
”Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” Luke 2:52 (NLT)
I recently visited my oldest son, Aaron, and his wife. They impressed me with their hard work and smart decisions. I admire them because they have found their way into responsible adulthood.
I realize looking back that my son didn’t automatically grow into maturity. Foundation stones and building blocks had to be carefully laid. That is where parenting came in. In addition to providing food, clothing, and shelter my husband and I were committed to preparing our sons to be men of strong godly character.
I always tried to remind myself that I was not raising boys - I was growing young men. When parenting got tough and I was tempted to back off and get lax, I remembered: “These are not little boys. They are future leaders, husbands and daddies. They need direction right now, not a push-over mom.”
Don’t get me wrong. I had lots of fun with my two sons, visiting museums, zoos, parks, and ski slopes. We attended church and participated in many children’s programs. Hiking the nearby woods, digging snow forts, and playing in the colorful fall leaves described our days.
I have other memories also of challenging situations when I had to say, “No.” Sometimes the parent-child struggles seemed unbearable. I often wanted to give up, allowing Aaron or Benjamin to have their way. Their smart manipulations sometimes confused me. Then I would have to remind myself that I was the mom.
One of the most difficult parenting tasks is to remove oneself and allow our children to fail as a result of the choices they make. The first time Aaron missed the bus, we had been struggling with time issues. Watching him return home, I prepared myself by smiling and opening the door. Without overreacting I listened to his story and responded, “You know the house rules. If you are not in school, you go to bed and stay in bed.” He argued that he was not sick, that I should take him to school. I knew if I caved in today, this battle and similar battles would plague us. I stood my ground, telling him that daddy is never late to work. Grown men don’t “miss the bus.”
If mothers do not do their “home work” right the first time around, the re-do’s become increasingly difficult and complicated – sort of like if you don’t memorize your multiplication tables, division will take you down!
I had to get my home work right with my youngest son, Benjamin, also. Sometimes his choices put him in peril so I developed a short phrase to repeat whenever he tried to dodge uncomfortable consequences. “Be the man” I’d say, “I am sure you can figure your way out of this problem.” Angered, Benjamin would often accuse others, but I reminded him that he alone was at fault. Grown men do not blame others for their mistakes.
Recently Benjamin, who’s now in college, told us his winter break plans, including a ski trip with friends. After listening to the exciting details, including the fact that he funded his entire trip, I gladly replied, “You’re the man. I’m impressed!”
In my son’s voice I detected strength, confidence, and a growing sense of self worth when he thanked me. I flashed back to those times I had encouraged him to solve his problems and “be the man.” My words might have seemed harsh and uncaring, but in reality I spoke of trust and confidence, telling him he was capable.
If we parent with an eye to the future rather than working out of today’s emotional reactions, we’ll successfully accomplish our “home work” and help our sons “be the man” God wants them to be one day.
Dear Lord, being a good parent is difficult. I find it hard to draw the line between genuine love and foolish pampering. Give me strength to wisely direct my children. Give me a picture of my son as a man and help me to parent toward the future. I dedicate my children to You, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
That’s My Son: How Mom’s Can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character,
by Rick Johnson
Be the Parent by Kendra Smiley
Visit Van’s blog
From the Pound to the Palace, a children’s book by Van Walton
Write a letter to each of your children (or “god-children”) detailing your dreams for them.
What measures must I take today for my children to be enjoyable teens and godly adults?
Am I willing to take the necessary stands today so my children will grow up to be outstanding Christians tomorrow?
1 Samuel 1:24 & 27, “After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was…, and brought him to the house of the LORD…‘I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.’” (NIV)
Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (NLT)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105