I’m a single mama of two young boys. As a woman raising young boys, I’ve thought a lot about how I want them to act—as kids and adults.
We joke around that I’m not raising farm animals, and we don’t live in a frat house.
I’m trying to plant seeds now so they grow into men with positive character traits.
They burp, fart, spray toothpaste on the sink and somehow miss the toilet often, but I’m trying to teach them life lessons about what it means to be great men and gentlemen.
Interactions with other men provide opportunities for us to talk about how men should behave and treat women and children.
Today, my youngest rushed to hold open a door and told me not to open it because a gentleman holds a door for a woman. Amen! A seed is being planted.
As a single mother, I’ve gained a new level of appreciation for how wonderful my own dad is.
My dad taught me countless lessons growing up and has continued to be a source of inspiration for me. He’s taken the time to teach me lessons I can pass on to my own children. He’s providing me with physical and mental tools to become an independent woman for myself and my children.
I can hang a picture in our home because my dad has taken the time to teach me the right way to do it and has provided me with the right tools. When I take my boys fishing, we each have our own tackle box filled with fishing equipment my dad has given us and has taught us how to use. He taught me how to tie a tie when I worked as a waitress in high school and that’s why I’m able to teach my sons that now. He’s taught me to work hard, set goals, and that the critics don’t count. He wanted us to read the book The Way Things Work so we’d understand things we would use every day like cars. (I never read it and didn’t finish the handwritten quizzes he made for us. Now, I regret that choice.)
As a grandfather, he’s teaching his grandkids about the way things work in life, as he’s done with his own children.
I pray daily and tell my boys frequently that I want them to be good boys who become great men.
When they say what if they don’t want to, I remind them there are too many people who will hold them accountable that they will not fail.
God has truly blessed us with positive male role models. My kids see men who teach them how to ride a bike, pray, throw a football, play poker, learn a new game, cast a fishing pole, practice a wrestling move, pull out a tooth, and teach them positive ways to behave.
Raising gentlemen means I want my boys to be strong, tough, helpful, respectful, truthful, good at communication, and also considerate of women and children. It’s a difficult balance of wanting to nurture and love without coddling too much. I’m still learning. At times I wonder how a man would respond to a situation.
I’ve learned that I have to change the way I talk to my kids.
As a mother raising boys, they need to be talked to as young men. Recently, my oldest shared with me how he was making something special for a female friend of his. During our conversation, I caught myself on how I was talking to him. I couldn’t act like I was a silly immature teenager talking about a cute boy with my girlfriends.
I had to talk to him as a young man, explaining that I once was a young girl and how it feels when a boy likes you, giving gentle suggestions on what to be considerate of. The next day, I told him good luck with that thing at school, bro! I talked to him as if I imagined a guy talking to a guy, keeping it casual.
My boys see lessons from men in their lives like tipping the barber, cooking, cleaning up after yourself, the importance of family, having fun, working hard, how to handle losing, believing in God, laughing, cheering for sports teams, having an assortment of tools and knowing how to use them, being prepared, carrying a pocketknife, being respectful, wearing a belt that keeps your pants above the top of your butt, and having good manners even if you farting or burping. They see humor too as they eat something spicy and look under their shirt to see if they grew any chest hair.
I hope and pray my sons see the positive examples of men in their lives, and they become great men of character, just like my dad.