He was nearly sixteen.
A young man with much on his mind and much to do. His days were full with school, friends, sports, dreams and goals.
And his goal on that day was to get to the bicycle shop. So I’d offered to take him there since I had to run into town anyway.
But I was pressed for time, so the plans changed and his father said he could take him in rather than me. Problem solved. Then imagine my surprise when I watched our son’s face fall. He was going to be able to get his bike fixed – didn’t he understand that?
He explained rather quietly, “But I was looking forward to the time with you, Mom.”
Me?? His mom? His answer caught me so off-guard, I couldn’t speak for a moment or two. But when I finally found my voice, I immediately changed plans. One more time.
I’ll take you, Son. Let’s go. Right now. I’ve got all the time you need.
I realized now that this wasn’t as much about a mountain bike, as it was about a young man’s heart.
A young man who was looking for some time together.
And a mom who’d been too busy and distracted to see it.
How does a mom reach her son’s heart?
1. Communicate confidence. Boys grow strong when they have someone who is confident in their abilities. They step out and take off when they sense your faith in them.
2. Give him space. A mom can’t hover over her boy. He needs a little room – room to grow and to try things out on his own.
3. Show some respect. It’s important to never belittle him or make him feel small in any way. Even little men need to have some basic respect.
4. Cheer him on. Until that guy marries, I hope to be his biggest fan (then she can take over from there). I’ll cheer loudly and enthusiastically whenever and wherever I can.
5. Be available. At times just being there means the most. You’re standing by – in case he ever needs something. Time, advice, sympathy, or encouragement: it’s waiting there for when he’s looking for it.
6. Take an interest. In his interests. What are his hobbies? What does he like learning about? Spend time doing? Whether lizards, space travel, or Airsoft (all of which I know way more about than I’d ever wanted to :)) – make it your area of interest too.
7. Listen quietly. More than anything. He doesn’t need you to talk nearly as much as he needs you to listen (more on that here).
8. Give him grace. I don’t know quite how to say this, but sometimes sons do stupid things. And we can become discouraged, or disappointed in them. But they need to feel our full forgiveness and have the chance to try again.
9. Believe the best. Let’s have great expectations for our sons. Let’s believe they’re going to go far and have high hopes for them.
10. Take him out. Our little boys keep very careful track on whose turn it is next to have a “date” with mom. I’ll grab one when I’m going out on an errand, then pick up an ice-cream cone or swing by the library. Our eldest likes the ribs at Baldy’s Barbecue.
11. Lighten up. Laugh at his antics and smile at his sweetness. Enjoy the boy he is and the man he’s becoming. Make sure he knows you delight in him. Just the way he is.
12. Pray for him. He needs his mother’s prayers. Pray for protection, for purity, for God’s purpose to be carried out. There’s probably no more important ministry a mom can have in her son’s life.
That sixteen-year-old is now 21 and living and working across the country – a senior at college – and we only get to see him once or twice a year. But we always welcome his emails, Skype and phone calls. It’s so good to hear all about his world and what’s on his heart.
Certainly, good for this mama’s heart.
Missing you, Son.
In His grace,
*Our oldest son recently wrote this post on what really mattered looking back on his childhood: 9 Things I’d Say My Mom Got Right
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