Today Daniel turns 22. Can you believe I have a 22-year-old son? Me neither. Just yesterday I was helping him tie the laces on his navy Keds and wiping the stickies from his fingers. Or so it seems.
- Don’t cling to yesterday. I refused to be a mom who was constantly looking back. Instead, I determined to fully enjoy every single stage of my children’s lives. If you resist them growing up, they’ll resist it too.
- Push a little. “Go to the counter and ask for more ketchup packets. Go on.” “Ask your teacher if there is something you can do differently to get a better grade next time. No, I’m not going to ask her; you ask her.” “Answer the doctor’s questions; don’t look at me.” “Go in there and get the job application. Then fill it out and ask for an interview. Get in there!”
- Teach and expect financial responsibility. Don’t just teach them how to manage money; teach them how to make financial decisions: should I buy this now or wait for it to go on sale? how much should I save? how much is my tithe? is that really worth it? Also, boys really need to have a little spending money in their pockets. This is an important lesson my mom taught me and fortunately she usually kept Daniel supplied with a ten or twenty here and there. But we also gave him opportunities to earn a little spending money.
- Show some respect. Just like grown men desire to be respected, when your son hits the teen years, he will begin to crave respect, especially from his mother. This may seem counter intuitive. Has he really earned it yet? Author Shaunti Feldhahn helped me understand that respect is not really so much something we earn as it is something we all deserve simply because we are people. But boys crave it and need it more. You might check out her book For Parents Only for more information on this crucial topic. Your son desperately needs to be treated with ever-increasing respect if he is to turn into a respectable young man.
- Make him get a job! If anyone knows how busy teenagers are, I do. But I’ve come to the conclusion that boys need a job more than they need many of the other things which are tying up their time. I won’t suggest they quit church youth group or school to get a job, but I will go so far as to say most boys would be better served holding down a part-time job than they would playing three sports a year or attaining valedictorian status. It’s hard for many boys to get up the guts to go get a job; the fear of rejection looms large. But once they get that first job and begin to make a little money, their self-respect and self-control quotients heighten substantially.
- Teach him how to be a man. Dads need to model godly manhood before their sons. No one else can fill a dad’s shoes in this role. But boys desperately need other strong male role models as well. We made a point of finding other young men Daniel could look up to, relate to, and hang with. We are thankful for the influence godly young husbands and dads have had on our son.
- Teach him how to treat a woman. As a mom it’s important to demand to be treated well by a son. A dad can set the stage for this gracious treatment, of course, by treating the son’s mother well. But a mom also needs to voice to her son what is and is not appropriate in his relationships with girls and women. Teach him to put her first, inquire about her needs, listen to her, be gentle with her, respect her, etc.