A boy who grows up without the guidance of a father is at a disadvantage, even at risk. But the role of the mother, who more often than not is the primary nurturer, has an enormous influence. This guest post was shared by Barbara Williams of Find A Babysitter.
Teaching children valuable life lessons and instilling the values and morals that will shape the adults they become is arguably the biggest and most important responsibility that mothers are tasked with. After all, your adorable son with his toddler lisp and wide eyes will eventually grow into a man who has to navigate the world on his own. His perceptions of women and the relationships he has with them will have a foundation in the relationship he has with you. These are ten of the lessons that mothers should teach their sons so that they grow into capable, well-adjusted and decent men.
How To Properly Care for Himself – When kids are small, they need an adult to cook and clean for them so that they stay fed and reasonably hygienic. It’s easy for moms to fall into the trap of continuing to cater to their children as they get older and more capable of handling such tasks on their own, especially with their sons. Boys who grow up understanding that Mom doesn’t exist solely to cook and do laundry and are taught to do those things for themselves will fare far better in the real world than their coddled peers.
That He’s Not Inherently Better Than a Woman – Gender equality is important, and the first lessons that little boys learn about women come from the most important woman in their lives: Mom. It’s your job to instill values and equal-mindedness into your son as he gets older, so that he grows up with a strong respect for woman and an understanding of equality between genders.
Real Bodies Don’t Look Like Magazine Ads – When parenting experts talk about body image problems and the way that the media shapes kids’ perceptions of their own bodies, they almost invariably discuss the impact that unrealistic portrayals of the human body have on young girls. In a world where an estimated ten to fifteen percent of people suffering from an eating disorder are male, and stigmas attached to the issue are so strong that men refuse to even discuss the matter, it’s of vital importance that women teach their sons the truth about human bodies. Your son needs to know that not only will he have a hard time finding a mate that looks like a Victoria’s Secret model, but that the bar set by male underwear models is equally unhealthy and unrealistic.
That Feeling His Feelings is Okay – Despite all of the progress society continues to make in terms of accepting male sensitivity and emotion, there are still plenty of adults that throw around terms like “boys don’t cry.” Your son needs to know that it’s okay for him to feel his emotions without them being minimized and without being shamed for them.
That Throwing Punches Only Makes Things Worse – The image of an underdog knocking out the big bully might make a splash in kids’ cinema, but it just causes problems in real life. Between zero-tolerance policies at school and the simple fact that violence never truly solves anything, boys need to know that it’s just not a good idea to get physical.
To Follow His Own Path – The oddball kid that marches to the beat of his own drum might not have a cadre of buddies that follow him around everywhere. In fact, he may only have one or two close friends that are equally unique. While every mom wants to know that her son is well-adjusted and fitting in socially, it’s more important for him to follow his own path and have faith in himself. After all, a kid that’s capable of thinking for himself and going against the tide of popular opinion is one that will stand strong for those convictions later, when the pressure to experiment with drugs or alcohol rears its adolescent head.
How to Make at Least One Meal Very Well – In addition to being able to feed himself after he moves out, a young man should be able to make one meal without worry or stress. Whether he’s entertaining a romantic interest as an adult or just cooking a meal for his buddies, knowing how to put a well-executed meal on the table is an essential skill for any young man.
To Establish and Maintain Boundaries – When parents think of instilling the ability to set boundaries and to maintain them, those lessons are normally focused on the daughters of the family. Boys need to understand that not only are they allowed to have personal boundaries, but that it’s essential. Moms should teach their sons from an early age about not only respecting the boundaries of others, but also knowing how to set their own and to adhere to them.
Be Passionate About Something – The All-American ideal of a boy might be a strapping young lad with a string of athletic accomplishments, but there are just as many boys with an interest in the sciences or arts. Instead of pressuring your young son to be an athlete or to participate in sports, encourage him to follow the thing that he’s passionate about without reservations. Moms should teach their sons to find the thing that they’re passionate about, and to pursue it will all of their hearts.
Just Help – Whether it’s picking up a dropped notebook in the hallway or helping someone across the street, one of the most valuable lessons a mother can teach her son is simply to look for those that need help and to help them. Performing routine kindnesses throughout the day without a need for recognition or repayment not only builds character, but also builds better citizens who are willing to do their part.