Sunday, March 13, 2011

Unsolicited Advice and Celebrating Manhood

Today's post is a submission to the Parenting area of the Christian Home Magazine, from The Legacy of Home. This new magazine is published online each Monday by Mrs. White. The articles are fantastic and since it is online magazine, there is no clutter on the coffee table.

You may notice one thing about this blog. I am no expert in anything. You won't see my homemaking skills shared, my parenting skills on display, or my fantastic recipes. I am a Jill of all trades blogger and master of nothing. I can only say that I do have a little experience raising boys. I certainly don't feel like my life could be a reference point or consider myself one who could guide others to parental nirvana. I fully agree with the mandate from the word of God. In Titus 2:4, the older women are called to teach the younger women to love their husbands and their children, so that the word of God may not be maligned. Some do this in person in the local church and some have the gift to do this online in the form of a blog.

Some parenting blogs, offer excellent advice. Now if these parents have raised their children through the unpredictable teen years and have had a little success, I may lean my ear towards them. I may listen to them and become a little jealous. I may even follow some of their advice. I may read their book and then quickly burn it. Or perhaps give it to a sister from church who really needs it.

Today I am going to go out on a limb today and offer some unsolicited advice.

Before I give it to you, let me share with you my qualifications.
I have 4 sons. They are 26, 15, 13, and 6.
That means I birthed a child in the 80's, 2 in the 90's and my last in the 2000's.
I used to read Parents magazine in the 80's. I was a rookie. I wanted advice. I needed it.
I don't read Parents Magazine anymore.
It makes me scared.
Scared? Scared of what?
I am scared of the sissification of this generation.
If I open this magazine, I will worry.
Diseases will scare me.
Bullies will scare me.
A.D.H.D. will scare me.
Toxic toys from China scare me
Hooded sweatshirts will scare me.
Playground dangers will scare me.
My laundry soap will scare me.
This magazine will put any one on guard for the million dangers your child will be exposed to.

As a homeschool mom with no television, I have been criticized for 'sheltering my children'. They are right. I do shelter my kids from spiritual dangers. With Little Guy, I am the food police who reads every label, avoiding additives and artificial flavors. I do shelter him from poor nutrition. But when it comes to the nature of boys, I am not strong enough to protect them, nor do I choose to.

My boys built their own tree house. In the past, when we had families over to visit, I over-heard a parent warn their not-so-little one.

"Don't go up there."

I felt sorry for that kid. Trees are for climbing. The forbidden tree fort loomed over their heads all day. I bet he felt a little like Eve.

This tree fort was a badge of honor. The satisfaction my boys received from collecting and carrying their own plywood 30 feet up a tree and hammering it in themselves, cannot be matched by anything. My husband, a former motorcycle rider and habitual risk taker, goes up occasionally to check for lose nails and safety hazards. He doesn't offer to help the boys, he's just the building inspector.

I did have to call the inspector out one time. Random and Raperboy created a "dumb waiter" and lifted Little Guy up in a milk crate. Little Guy was about three. I happened to look out the kitchen window. It was too late, he was already hoisted up. The Gman had to carry him down, safely. Thankfully, no one was injured, just my heart, it skipped a few beats.

Boys are naturally risk takers. Playgrounds have equipment that is very inviting. Why do we think they will climb on it the way it was designed to be used? They want to climb each and every piece of it. Please let them do this. Some day they will be men who have to climb ladders to string up lights all over their homes for their Martha Stewart-like wives. They need to take chances and risks early. They need to boost their confidence today.  If they are entering school, they will be told to sit down, shut up and color like a girl. We have to counteract this at home. We must let them take chances, climb ladders, swim over their heads, ride their bikes away from our yards and challenge themselves.

Where was my oldest son the night of September 11, 2001? He was having dinner with a Marine recruiter. He was weighing the risks. He decided against it for a while. When he eventually joined the Marine Corps and I shared the news with friends, I often heard audible groans of fear. Gee, thanks for the encouragement.

I can honestly say, I was not afraid. I had often thought about the dangers that young men face at home. Drunk drivers, foolish choices and general recklessness was already here stateside. I was confident of God's hand to move in behalf of my son. My son survived his five-year commitment to the Marine Corps with only a few hazards. He experienced his worst sunburn ever overseas and fought a terrible rash from some exotic plant on the coast of California. 

Are you blessed with a boy in your home? Do him a favor this spring, cheer him on when he takes a chance. Buy him some tools.  Let's celebrate manliness.

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Joyful Learner said...

Great post! I want to for my girl as well. Risk-taking shouldn't be limited to boys!

i cant decide said...

I love this post! You sound like you have the same parenting philosophy for your boys that we do!
Yay, to your Marine son! My hubby was a Marine when we married and my second son wants to be a Marine. Our parents are trying to talk him out of it. I will be proud if he has the privilege of being a Marine.

Laurie said...

Great post! My girls (now adults) were what I would call cautious risk takers- they assessed the situation, weighed the risk to benefit ratio, and then made their decision. Often they decided to take the riskier path. My boys just go for it. I still have to hold myself back from holding them back. :)

Shell said...

My boys are risk takers. Definitely. They are still young, so their risks are of the running and playing and jumping and climbing variety- but I let them try.

There is a lot of scare-tactics parenting out there.(Even though, my own personal thing is that you really do have to watch the toys from China, since one of my boys suffers from severe lead poisoning and it does more damage than you could ever imagine- so, in that area, we are extremely cautious)

Kym said...

Great post!! I have three boys, now 18, 16, and 12 - and I completely agree with your point of view. Parenting is so much about risk management, and allowing boys (and girls) to learn how to decide what risks are worth taking.

Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

I love the color like a girl comment! Yes, we get alot of verbal comments and even more wide eye of horror looks when the boys do anything independently. I just let them go. Thanks for the encouragement to continue on!

Wendy R said...

Great post! I have three boys, 19,11, and 8. My hubby (step dad to 6 boys)is doing his best to teach them to be men (and to teach ME how to allow my boys to BE risk-takers! ;-) )....

Laura said...

Thank you for such a great post! I only have one little man but I am doing my best to let him be just that- a man.

Lorus! said...

Can I just say, "AMEN!!!" We have 3 boys, 15, 6, 4 and I often have to trust my husband's advice when he tells me they are normal. They are fun, busy, and definitely try some dangerous things - but so far no broken bones or serious injuries!

Just Me said...

Well said! I agree and parent my 4 boys the same way.


cara said...

I appreciate your honest assessment of motherhood. My girls are 3 and 5. I look to a variety of sources for parenting advice. In my heart, I know how I should be parenting, but it is so easy to the pressures of society.

Helen said...

Love your attitude, Terri. Love the way you write. Well said!