Raising boys is such a joy! They love touching gross bugs (and killing spiders for me), getting really dirty, and wrestling each other every chance they get. They are sweet, full of endless energy, and are the loves of my life. I envision my boys growing up to be strong, capable men who also have good hearts. Here are a few of the things I am doing to ensure my boys will be successful at being men, while also making sure that they are protected from society’s anti-man narrative. Many of these are already paying off, and we’re applying some of the principles to our girls as well.
1. Chivalry is NOT Dead.
Over the years I have heard men and women alike complain that men who embrace chivalry are a dying breed. If parents don’t teach their sons these virtues from day one, then they will never know how to be gentlemen. Both of my boys treat me like a lady. They open doors for me, they grab my packages for me, they are always offering to fix anything that I need and they help me to put my coat on, among other things. My 5-year-old even grabs my hand to help me get out of the car (yes, it melts my heart every time!). I am the first female my boys will know, and it’s my job to set the tone for how they will interact with females in the future. Being a gentleman isn’t weak, it’s polite. Teaching my boys that it’s the little things in a relationship that make a huge difference has really sunk in.
2. It’s ok to Show Emotion.
There is a fine balance between raising a boy to be a man or to be a sissy. If my 5-year-old falls down, I pick him up and acknowledge that it hurt. I give him hugs, we clean up the wound, and do whatever he needs to make it better, but I am quick to have him acknowledge that he is ok, and that he will be alright. He is usually back to playing within minutes. My older son, who is 15, understands that showing emotion doesn’t make him weak, but human. When our dog recently passed away, he sobbed. Many boys are taught to bottle up emotions like that, which could cause issues later in life because they may have trouble expressing their feelings.
3. Always stand by your convictions and have integrity, even if you stand alone.
It’s easy to abandon what you know to be right in order to appease others or to go along with the crowd. At the end of the day, my children know that you have to answer to God and yourself, not the masses. The easiest way to do this is to lead by example. Show your kids that your convictions are solid and they will have confidence to stand by theirs, too.
4. Be kind to others.
Again, this is an opportunity to lead by example. Show compassion to people in need or who need a friend. Get them involved in charities that you pick out as a family so they can see the direct impact their kindness has on others. It gives them a sense of humility and really does show them how blessed they are.
5. Show them how to have self-control.
Boys’ emotions can run high, especially when their hormones are beginning to kick in, and they may show it by acting out with aggression. Teach them ways to be patient. Put them in situations and point out that now is the time to be patient. For an example, I take my boys clothes shopping with me. They hate it and their first instinct was to complain and express their loathing for it, but over time, they have learned that sometimes they have to do things they don’t necessarily like and they are now respectful about it. Teaching them to save 20% of their earnings or gift money in bank accounts also teaches them to have patience for something they want.
6. Demand respect and give respect.
I don’t allow my children to take a certain tone with me or any adult. They know that respect is something they need to give to their parents and others. I was taught to respect my elders and that is what I teach my kids. Respect is a two-way street; if they give respect they also get respect.
7. Manners Matter
Manners and showing respect go hand in hand. I am big on such things as “please” and “thank you,” putting a napkin in your lap at the dinner table, waiting your turn to speak, and saying “excuse me.”
8. An apology goes a long way.
My father always told me, “If you mess up, just admit you messed up so we can make it right.” Essentially my dad was telling me to own it when I made a mistake. My boys know that they are not above making a mistake in life, but when they do, a heartfelt apology means something. Too many kids think they are entitled and they can do no wrong.
9. Academics aren’t just for girls.
My boys understand the value of an education. Their studies come above all else during the school week. Being disciplined with a schedule will help them become organized, which will carry over to when they are adult men.
10. Let a boy be a boy.
I am teaching my boys that it’s ok to be who they are and embrace their boyhood. With all of the garbage being forced down their throats about their “gender” and if you “feel it” then you are, I must be iron-clad when it comes to this issue. If they ever become “confused” about whether they are really boys or not, the notion will not be embraced in our home. They know that God made them males, and males are what they are. It’s unfortunate that our crazy society has caused families to even have to address this at all, but I want my children to be armed when they come up against it. It’s not normal and never will be.
Do you have boys? What are some of the virtues you are teaching them?