Steve Answers Some Mom Questions

When preparing my MOMS to the MAX 7 Ways to Maximize Your Mom & Son Bond course, I asked for questions from some Facebooks moms. You are about to read my abbreviated answers to their questions. If they leave you feeling empty or wanting more, feel free to EMAIL my wife or send an EMAIL my way. That’s when the answers can change from “bite sized” to “buffet!”

A MOTHER’S INFLUENCE
“How significant is a mother’s influence on her son?”

Never sell yourself short. My dad was not around for me. I do not know where I would be today or what I would be doing if it hadn’t been for a mom who outwardly loved God, protected me from some of the ugliness around me, and did her best to raise me right. Moms often bring balance to the parenting equation. Although some of us dads are learning that it’s okay to be nurturers and finally breaking through some of the cultural stereotypes, moms often have a large influence in teaching their sons how to handle stress, how to experience all emotions, how to show affection, and how to respect women! And don’t forget, the Bible is full of great examples of mom influencers. Timothy is a good example of a young man whose mother and grandmother influenced his life for God.

MOMMA BEAR DISAGREES WITH DAD
“How do you control your (mother bear) when his father must instill the teachings of becoming a good and responsible young man but at an age the mom disagrees on? She knows it’s needed, and wants to respect the role of the father, but disagrees.”

The problem quite often is not the WHAT but the how. There’s a ton of wisdom we can gain from our wives, especially when it comes to parenting and quite often, believe it or not, we might agree once we know the facts or we might be swayed! When you’re in disagreement with how your husband is making his dad decisions, realize that just like you, he thinks it is what’s best. So, how do you change his mind or habits or at least get a listening ear. Here’s my suggestion. Gather the facts and share more than just opinion. Once you’re ready to lovingly share, talk to him about your concern privately. None of us like to be called out or questioned in front of the kids and it’s best that they not know we disagree. Let’s not allow our kids to take sides or use us against each other.

GRUNT MANAGEMENT
“Is there a manual that translates the grunt responses to your questions in their teen years? LOL”

I love this question. It made me laugh AND I can relate. Not only am I a father of five, but I spent several years as a middle and high school teacher and have had several grunts and groans interrupt my well-thought-out, lesson planned days. Here’s what I know – our boys ARE communicating even with their grunts. Take note and return to the subject privately and find out what brought it all about. Let them know you care and that words are way more powerful than low guttural bellows.

And here’s a lesson for us all: It’s easy for us to hide behind our cell phones and laptops and miss our best communication opportunities. Good communication skills start with us. We need our boys to know that they mean more to us than the project, puzzle, or movie in hand. I was guilty of this just yesterday. My son was desperately trying to share something that was important to him. Instead of teaching him good listening skills by example, he received the “uh-huhs” and “grunts” from me. If we are uninterested in the “mundane” things they say now, will they come to us when they are older or when we are needed most?

TOO PUSHY?
“When do you push for conversation and when do you give them space?
How do you develop a close relationship with a private son who doesn’t share very much?”

Hopefully this question was answered by today’s post. But let me leave another pointer or two. I was one of the “private sons”. I am an introvert and keep to myself. It’s not that I never want to share but I am usually not the conversation initiator. I needed the provided opportunities and safe places.

I never knew it was okay to share the difficult and so my encouragement to you is let him know you are there and available. I would also encourage them to talk to dad or another godly male mentor if that might be more comfortable for him. And… mom, please know that no matter how private he is — the notes, the comments, and the scheduled times together do mean something to him. Force them on him? No, but work the special moments into you every day (every week) routine. You might be surprised how much both of you will enjoy the little moments together!

CAN I BE HIS FRIEND?
“Can you really be mom AND friend without blurring the lines of discipline?”

Discipline — it’s really how you see it. There’s two definitions you can cling to. You can define it as training (someone) to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.  I prefer choice number two: training (someone) to do something in a controlled and habitual way. I hope I didn’t just lose you there. I am not against punishment or rules. As parents, we’ve instituted our fair share of both. Our discipline should only be one part of the training equation though. Discipline + friendship + vulnerability + accountability + humility + ____________________ = well balanced boys!

MY WORD IS LAW!
“Is there a way to balance ‘My house. My rules.’ without the child feeling resentment later on because of a parent’s control?”

Every home dynamic is different making this is a hard question to properly answer so that it is beneficial to every mom. Here’s the simple answer: to limit the rebellion and resentment, your son MUST feel loved. There must be a balance between well shared “house rules” and caring communication.

If you are early on in your parenting, there are little things you can do that can save you a lot of heartache in the future. The key is to be proactive and limit the misunderstandings. Take for instance, we lovingly communicated our future restrictions (cell phones, dating, etc.) and let our children know why they were set in place before they ever became an issue.

If you are a parent of an older teenager and are asking this question, it’s not too late to change things around BUT it will take you much more time and patience to adapt a new parent and child regime.

GIFTED?
“How do you steer and help fan your child’s gifts without them thinking they’re the best of the best, OR do we encourage and just let them figure that out?”

Our kids need our encouragement regularly. They need to hear us “sing their praises.” At the same time, we must avoid fabricating their greatness. I always cringed when watching some of the young people audition for American Idol. Their hopes were so high because mom or dad told then they were the best, but when they faced the cameras and the judges. They became “famous” but for all the wrong reasons.

Your son needs a good and godly perspective when it comes to his talents and the gifts of others. Teaching him that no matter how good he is that there may be someone better than him in that area is not detrimental, it’s setting him up with truth rather than for a major fall. This perspective is motivational. It keeps our young men pushing forward and helps them recognize God’s gifts in others.

Praise is good but so is reminding our children where are gifts comes from! It comes back to a correct understanding — knowing that we are a masterpiece, but it’s the Creator (our artist) who made us that way. All glory should go to Him!

HIS FIRST HEARTBREAK
“How do you talk to your adolescent son about first heart break?”

As a youth pastor and school teacher for several years, I have seen my share (and beyond) of devastation and brokenness when it comes to heartbreak. For some young people, this overwhelming flood of emotions is felt way too early and way too often.

Mom, I understand if at this point you cannot change the current dating philosophy in your household, but for those with young kids, please consider training your children to wait and date.

Is it cruel to have our children wait? (We told our children they could date when they were sixteen or mature enough to understand what it was all about. We also let them know early on that we wanted them to find their identity in Christ and that they needed time to prepare to be their best first and that includes enjoying being a child.) I know this idea is not popular, but we found it helpful.

This kind of heartbreak is difficult and although our boys may say that is all is just fine, we need to be there for them. Let them know that you are there to talk when they are ready. Here’s a few more tidbits of advice that may help:

  • Be non-judgmental.
  • Rebuild his self-esteem if needed.
  • Provide distractions.
  • Watch for signs of emotional abuse.
  • Keep your opinions of the girl who broke his heart to yourself.
  • Encourage your son to get out and interact with others his own age.
  • Watch for signs of depression and extreme sadness and consider seeking assistance if needed

MOMMA’S BOY
“My son and I are close. We have an amazing relationship. I have many questions but the one that nags me the most would be the term ‘mama’s boy.’ For now, he sort-of shrugs it off when it is said because he’s twelve and he actually responds, ‘Yep! I am! I have an amazing mama!’ My concern is that as he gets older how will being a ‘mama’s boy’ or being told that he is a ‘mama’s boy’ impact him?”

Another great question. Thank you for sharing! While you have the chance and while he still embraces being called a “momma’s boy”, talk to him about it.

  1. Talk about why he may be called a momma’s boy. If it’s just because he loves you and others can see it – incredible! If it’s because he’s so attached that he’s not learning to do things on his own and become a well-rounded responsible young man, then work on this with him and maybe seek help from his dad or a mentor with these things.NOTE: Some people may use this term if they see something they see as “feminine” in your boy. I’ll be talking about these masculinity stereotypes and how to help your son in one of our upcoming lessons!
  2. Let him know that you understand that the term momma’s boy MAY one day hurt him deeply and that you’re okay with the day he doesn’t stand proudly and say, “You got that right!”.
  3. Teach him about bullying. Let him know how bullying happens and what to do or who to go to when he feels hurt. This is also why it’s important to teach him to find his identity in Christ. When he can understand it, also teach him that “hurt people hurt people” and how to even love the ones doing the bullying!

Know that there will come a day when his affection for you may seem lost or hidden. Don’t take it personally if his public expressions change. Here’s an idea as well: Early on, suggest a secret signal that will allow you both to communicate your love in public! Help him avoid the embarrassing moments and he’ll love you even more.

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