This boy of ours, this young man in training, is on the cusp of big changes. We've been on our knees frequently asking God for wisdom in how to raise him in these formidable years to come. Our son is showing us signs that he's ready for more in this life. He's physically stronger, and mentally stronger and begging for challenges to test his growing abilities. We want him to be well prepared for life as a man and some day perhaps a husband and father.
It seems like people don't expect much from young folks anymore. Some of the most important training years in a young man's life are now spent goofing off, playing video games, and hanging out with friends with no real responsibilities. While unstructured play and adventures are important, it is also vital to really stretch those growing muscles in both the brain and brawn department. We want to tune into our son's strengths and feed his interests with plenty of opportunity for growth. We also want to challenge him in his weak areas by gently nudging him out of his comfort zone. Lately he's been giving 4-H presentations to rooms full of people young and old, and although it makes him terribly nervous, he has risen to overcome his nerves. He builds more confidence every time he chooses courage over fear.
As a mother, I had most of the teaching duties for my son's younger years, but now I find my role changing as Dad takes over the majority of the character training in his life. The two spend as much time as possible together, and I've taken a step back as they've developed that unspoken bond that fathers and sons have.
That doesn't mean that all mothering has come to a halt. I'll never stop kissing his freckled cheeks, and feeding him his favorite cookies. I'll still push him in his academics and be his biggest fan at his baseball games. I'll still call on him to lift heavy things and kill the vermin while doting on his bravery and strength. He's over the hundred pound mark and nearly as tall as his Mama, but I can still whip him in a wrestling match... at least for a few more months. ;) He squishes my guts when he gives me a bear hug at bedtime, and that may never change. But I know that it's time for him to look to his dad, his grandfathers, and the other men in his life to pour their wisdom into him.
We want to somehow raise the bar with the hope that he will rise to meet it. This is where all of the prayer comes in. It's a delicate balance to stretch a boy and allow him to make lots of failed attempts while trying new things, without crushing his entrepreneurial spirit.We don't want him to be paralyzed by the need for perfection.We want him to try new and difficult things, and be there to encourage him to try again, and again, and again if he didn't get the results he hoped for.
We are trying to inspire him to read stories of ordinary boys who grew to do extraordinary things for God and their country. We point to examples of young men who have started little businesses that have grown into full time jobs. We try to show him Biblical examples of manhood and modern day Godly men to model his life after. We have spent his life up to this point laying the foundations for our son, but in a few years, our son will begin to frame the walls with the tools we've given him, and with the help of God.
This parenting stuff just seems to get more challenging as the kids get older. We thought that teaching them to walk, talk, use the potty, read, and ride a bike were tough tasks, but that's nothing compared to what is demanded of parents in this phase. Keeping up with toddlers is physically demanding, but the older the kids get, the more mentally exhausting the job becomes. My prayer time seems to be ever increasing these days, and I may wear out the carpet and a set of knees before it's all said and done from approaching the throne of Grace to ask for protection and wisdom in these coming years.
It's hard to imagine that anyone could love this boy more than his parents, but God does. We have to trust Him that He will pick up where we have failed, and that He will fill in the gaps where we have fallen short. We're depending on Him to guide us through this parenting journey, and through these uncharted waters.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart,