My young daughter was red-faced and wailing, so I picked her up to settle her down. As she began to catch her breath, I turned my attention to her older brother. He was standing a few feet away, shifting from one foot to the other while looking at the ground. “What happened here?” I asked, and my son replied, “She wouldn’t share the LEGO, so I hit her.” It was one of those things boys shouldn’t do.
This is a conversation I’ve had many times with both of my sons. As older brothers, they’ve quickly realized they often can get what they want by force. But I want them to see their strength as a gift meant to be used in the right way. I don’t want them to become bullies (or worse) by using their strength to control or to hurt others. Here are 6 other things I don’t want my sons to be.
1. I don’t want my sons to be scared to take a risk.
Sometimes, our sons feel invincible, and they are willing to try anything. Other times, they won’t try anything they aren’t sure they can succeed at. Boys need to be willing to try new things, to take a chance, and to experience failure. We can help them do this by taking risks ourselves, and then let our sons share in the glory when things go well or help us clean up the mess when it doesn’t work out.
2. I don’t want my sons to be too proud to ask for help.
If our sons believe “don’t ask for directions” is a rule for life and not a cliché, they’re going to grow up with an overdeveloped sense of pride. Anyone can get overwhelmed, but it’s a mistake to try to face everything on our own. We need to be role models for them by asking for help when we need it. We also need to let them know they can ask us for help with anything and everything they will ever face.
3. I don’t want my sons to be sore losers.
Nobody likes to lose. But for boys, it can be harder if they take losses to heart. We need to let our sons know it’s OK to be upset but that flipping the game board and storming away isn’t. We need to teach them healthy ways to react when they do lose, by teaching them their relationship with the person they’re playing with and the experience are worth more than the end result.We need to be the first ones to put down our screens and invite our sons to go on real-life adventures.
4. I don’t want my sons to live all their adventures on screens.
Boys today are growing up surrounded by screens. We have enough devices in my house that everyone in my family of seven could have two all to themselves. When our boys are constantly bombarded by digital content, they lose some of the most important childhood experiences: getting outside, playing with friends, and experiencing the wonder of the world around us. We need to be the first ones to put down our screens and invite our sons to go on real-life adventures with us.
5. I don’t want my sons to be womanizers.
From James Bond to James T. Kirk, many of my fictional heroes growing up were strong, courageous, and always got the girl. The thing is, every week it was a different girl. The shows our sons watch today aren’t much different as many of the relationships they see are quick hookups with no consequences. We need to teach our sons the importance of respecting all the women. We also need to help them understand that intimacy is meant to progress over time, not to happen all at once like hookups we see so often in shows.
6. I don’t want my sons to forget the importance of faith.
It can be hard to pass faith on to our kids as they may struggle with some of the beliefs we hold most dear. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I believe we need to model our faith through prayer, service to others, and integrity. I believe our sons need to grow up knowing the place God has in our lives.
Sound off: What are other things boys shouldn’t do?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you think failure can actually help you?”