This week, I was hanging out with two of my good friends, when we started talking about our kids… what else is knew? It’s funny, because for being pretty similar in parenting styles, their kids were complete opposites. One has a son that is really nice, gentle, soft-spoken kid. He is always polite and never raises his voice. While he is a great kid, he cries and whines a lot. He said: “It sure is hard making these kids tough, isn’t it? I never would have cried like this 30 years ago.”
On the other hand, my other friend has son that you would consider “aggressive”. Compared to the rest of his friends, he was the dominant personality. He was pushy and bossy, not worrying if anyones feeling got hurt. He said: “Yeah, it’s pretty easy to raise him to be tough- it kind of comes naturally. I don’t know how I’d try to toughen him up if he weren’t already this way.”
Which one is harder to raise? Which is easier? It doesn’t matter, because in the end, we all want the same goal:
Raising a boy is hard… Raising a boy to be the man you want him to be is harder…
Becky & I just want the best of both worlds. We are trying to raise men that are both gentle, yet strong. We try to teach them these lessons through our actions and our examples. These ones are most important to us:
How to raise a boy to be a kind, but strong man:
- Stand up for what you believe in, but not at another person’s expense. If you are going to stand up for things like morals, family and religion, be sure that you are strong in where you stand. Society is quick to cast the first stone, so be ready to defend what you believe in.
- Have an open mind and be willing to hear other’s sides. You aren’t always right, so be willing to understand why the other person has a good point, too.
- Be nice to your family. ” Yes, son… while it is easier to be nice to your baby sister, five years younger than you… and harder to be just as nice to your brother who is only a year younger than you, both are equally important.”
It is just as important is to be kind to the women in your life and teach your kids to do the same: their mother, grandmother, aunts… The best way to show our sons how to be great husbands is to be one ourselves.
- Knowing when and how apologize is important. It shows that you are strong enough to know when you are wrong or have made a mistake. As it shows strength, it is also to show that you are someone that is seeking forgiveness for making a mistake. A key to a healthy relationship is knowing when to say you are wrong, but also asking for forgiveness. When we lose our tempers (and we do), learn to apologize to your kids. They need to know that everyone has weak areas in life and we all make mistakes. We apologize and we mean it… and then we move on. Talk to your kids about it. “I am sorry. I am saying that I am sorry, because it is how I am going to own up to my mistakes. I don’t want to do it again.”
- Offer help. If you see some that needs help, you automatically offer to help, no questions asked. It can be as simple as holding the door open for the lady at the grocery store or helping that same lady carry her groceries to her car. It might not be easy, but it may mean the world to the person you are helping. Lead by example.
One time Becky stopped in a parking lot, after running into the store to grab milk. The kids and I were waiting in the car as we watched her come out of the store, into the cold rainy evening, and we watched stop at a car close by. She saw a very old man trying to get his groceries into his car. She ran over, opened his door for him to get in and then she unloaded his groceries, one by one, in the cold rain, while he sat in the car with a smile on his face, watching her with gratitude. I told our kids to watch, because that is the example that I want them to see: selflessness.
- Knowing when to say “No” may be one of the hardest things to teach. Saying “No” to bullies and to peer pressures may be the toughest things we have to do. Teach your kids to have enough faith in themselves that turning down that temptation is going to be easy.
- Find your passion and pursue it. I love woodworking, but rarely do it. This year, I started working from home and it gave me a chance to work on this. It gave the kids a chance to see that I still have hobbies and I pursue them. They don’t bring me money or success, but they bring me happiness and that is more important.
- Read. Simple, right? Read for fun. Read magazines. Read books. I want our kids to know that education doesn’t stop just because school does. I am always growing in what I know because the more I know, the more I can do and teach to someone else.
- Say I Love You. Say I love you and say it often. Don’t be afraid to tell them.
- ‘Humor’ someone today. You might not think that your brother’s joke is funny… laugh anyway. Your mom may have told you the same story twice… listen anyway. It is called humoring someone and you do it out of kindness. We teach our kids this and we give them examples. Then… we give them opportunities to try, as we whisper into their ears “Humor your little brother and watch while we beams with pride that you laughed at his joke!”
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