Stop coddling your sons. Please.
I am writing this as the mother of a son (and a daughter)–a Black son at that. A son who has had very low expectations set for him–by society. My husband and I expect nothing but great things from our son and are doing our best to prepare him for it.
Along the way,l particularly at my job I see mothers who are doing the exact opposite–babying and coddling their sons until they turn into lazy, inept men-child incapable of participating in a balanced marriage. Mind you, depending on what my son does after he graduates high school, he may still be welcome to live in our house as a young adult (for example, if he is going to college, but even then he will be expected to aide in the household duties and abide by our rules. I don’t care how old he is–our house, our rules). But here is what I see moms doing for their twenty-plus year old sons that burns me up:
1. Never teaching him how to do his own laundry, cook his own meals or requiring him to pick up after himself. I am not sure how this is acceptable in this day and age. This is not the forties or fifties where a breadwinner man had the homemaker wife whose sole responsibility was to take care of the house. If that is the arrangement, that is perfectly fine. But typically in households these days men are a) marrying later, meaning they have more years as a bachelor then their grandfathers, thus need to know how to do their own laundry, cook a few meals and keep their homes clean) women are working forty hours a week just like their husbands. So why should they be expected to also do all of the housework?
2. After your son turns a certain age a mother really has no business setting up his doctor’s appointments for him and definitely has no business going in the exam room with him. I see this a lot and it’s strange. Then mom does not let the grown man-child do any of his own talking. It is ridiculous. I’ve known moms to fill out their son’s job or school applications. Why???
3. When your son gets in trouble, stop acting like it is everyone’s fault but his own. Hold him responsible for his behavior. I know we love our sons but we have to teach them that the world does not revolve around them nor will everyone cave to his wants and whims. I have always said my son has ONE time to get in trouble as an adult, because we all make mistakes. But he should not ever expect my continued support if he goes to jail multiple times. That is absolutely unacceptable. It is embarrassing to me when I see a mom crying at her son’s arraignment talking about how he’s such a good boy when this is his sixth time in front of a judge.
4. Have high standards for your son–and I have to speak directly to moms of Black sons on this one. Society expects our Black boys to either be athletes or end up in prison with several baby mamas. My husband and I tell our son he is expected to be the husband of one wife. He says he wants to be a doctor–we expect high performance in school and reward him accordingly. When he acts up, he faces consequences immediately. My son has done a couple things wrong in school and it is unfortunate that his teachers have to be concerned that when they tell a parent their child has done something wrong, they may get cussed out. I’ll get my son’s side of the story, but wrong is wrong and will be dealt with. Tell your son he can be that doctor or even the president if he wants, but then you have to set the high standards so he can get there. And then BACK OFF so he can become a man.
5. Let fathers be fathers. I will readily admit that my husband is in a better spot to teach our son how a man should behave. Why? BECAUSE HE IS A MAN. Try as I might, I cannot say with one hundred percent certainty that I understand the struggles that come along with being a man. My husband knows the stress that comes along with being a man, with being the primary caretaker of a family, to try to aspire to go against what society says he will be, etc.
6. Let your son fail sometimes. Moms, we are not always going to be around to solve our son’s problems, nor should we attempt to. That is up to HIM.
What does the Bible say about manhood? There are also several verses that I feel speak directly to manhood, and the goals a mom should remember when raising her son:
Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
Unless a son is going to go the way of Paul and live a celibate life that allows him to focus singly on serving God, a mom should prepare her son to be a good husband. In my humble opinion, that means pulling his own weight in the household–providing for the family and supporting his wife with the household duties if she works as well. That leads me to my next one.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (paraphrased by me): “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”. Period.
1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways”. Uh, moms, you are instrumental in this, as are dads. Sons are going to continue being childish if mom allows it (making his appointments, covering his tracks, doing his laundry, etc).
The verses describing the qualities of a bishop or deacon are also useful in terms of what is expected of men. My husband had to learn these verses as he trained to be a deacon:
1st Timothy 3:2-13 “This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus”.
Obviously the best example of how a man should behave is found in our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. A Man who was blameless, dedicated to God, prayerful, exhibited power under control and sacrificial love, a Man who did not shirk His responsibilities.
Moms, we have a huge job to do. Let’s get on it. Don’t cripple your son. Empower him.
*The picture is not my own. It comes from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/12/opinion/sunday/too-much-helicopter-parenting.html?_r=0