Last night Jacob called me to tell me about his first day of classes. It took me by surprise. He’s not a talker.
He’s such a great kid and has barely given us a lick of trouble, but he is very, very quiet. Always has been. Even as a little boy he would just sit there, everyone around him chattering on and he’d say nothing. I could tell he wasn’t holding back or feeling like he couldn’t interject. He simply did not have anything to say.
Once he got to be older I tried to get him to talk more. I’d prompt him and sometimes give him three or four possible responses to choose from.
Me: Jacob, how was you day?
Me: Try saying more.
Jacob: (thinking for a long time) I don’t have anything else to say.
Me: Try something like, “I enjoyed lunch,” or “I had to do chores I didn’t like,” or, “I’m hoping to watch a show later.”
It was rough. I finally decided that I was doing more harm than good. I was putting pressure on him and getting nowhere.
During this time I heard Norm Wakefield speak. He shared his thoughts on mothers and sons and it opened my eyes to my role as a mother of this young man. My job was not to correct him, but to show him what it is like to be respected, to teach him to protect and be honored in a godly way
James and I talked about it and agreed that it should be James’ role to teach Jacob. Each morning I would tell James what I needed Jacob (who was around age 12 at the time) to do around the house or in school and James would give Jacob instructions. My role was to reinforce what James had said. I began to work hard at giving Jacob room to make manly decisions. He and I do a lot of projects together. I started asking him his opinions on how we should build things. I would say, “I’m not sure which boards to use for support here. Jacob, what do you think?” Often his ideas were foolish and immature, of course. But if there would be no harm in it, I would always try his ideas. Then we could talk about what didn’t work and why.
Slowly (VERY slowly) Jacob started to develop skills and confidence. I taught the girls that their role in their brothers’ lives is to be admiring and respectful. They began to ask even the little boys to help with things that required muscles and man power. Then they would say things like, “Thank you so much. It is wonderful to have such a strong brother.”
Our goal isn’t to puff up the boys, but to encourage them to be men.
As for my quiet Jacob, I began to see a tiny spark. For a guy that didn’t say much in a one-on-one setting, he was oddly comfortable speaking to a group. He would pray aloud in large groups and share his thoughts in church. Then one day he expressed an interest in doing a solo for the community choir that we participate in each year. I was shocked. Singing in front of others is scary, but he said he didn’t feel nervous at all. He auditioned and immediately got the solo. The night of the performance he and I were alone for a few minutes. We were both doing solos and I was nervous. I turned to him and asked if he was nervous too. “No ma’am,” he replied, “I feel great about it.”
It was more confirmation to me that this boy had a gift. Anyone that wasn’t nervous about singing for the first time in front of a huge crowd has some kind of gift that I will never understand. Even though I have done a lot of solos, I get really nervous every time. Jacob was calm as a cucumber.
Since then he has done more singing, more speaking, more reaching out to new people. I watched him last week as he sat in the back of the choir with 5 older men around him and they were all talking like they were in an exclusive club. It was obvious from a distance that the other men welcomed Jacob in and enjoyed his company. I could only stare, wondering in amazement at how my little quiet boy had become a gifted young man.
He has a lot to learn still. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and there are bright things ahead.
I encourage you, if you are raising sons, to step back and be quiet. Ask the Lord to show you his gifts and gently nurture them. It’s a fine line you walk as the mom…..you are still his authority and have many things to teach your son. But his future includes being a husband and father and he knows that you don’t have the tools to teach him that. You do, however, have the tools to teach him how a godly husband and father should be treated.
My other four sons will have different gifts. I continually ask the Lord to show them to me so that I can nurture those gifts. I watch for little signs that they crave being the protector and provider and I give them opportunities to do that. I still discipline them and teach them, but I am careful to show them respect. I don’t give them false praise, but real admiration for their efforts.
As a mother, these are a few of the things I can have my sons do to help them understand manhood: carry the groceries, mowing the yard, pulling weeds, killing bugs, small appliance repair, taking out the trash, hosing down the house, painting, feeding animals, carrying heavy items, moving furniture, taking books off the shelf for you to dust, teaching little brother, figuring out a problem, shaking out rugs, burying things, unlocking doors, holding the door open, letting ladies go first, digging, washing the car, leading the prayer at mealtime.
Moms—treat your sons in such a way that when they are grown they will recognize honor and know how to lead.
“You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God”. ~ 1Peter 3:4
“The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.” ~ Proverbs 23:24
Linking to Encouraging Words Wednesday