Winning the Heart of my Sons
It came as a surprise. With so many little ones underfoot, I could feel the momentum building. The season of my children’s adulthood rushed toward me!
Somehow, before I knew it, my adult children stood before me, wide-eyed and ready to embark on their own life’s calling. The moment to release my arrows into the unknown came all too soon. With God’s help, I decided to embrace this new season and launch them well. This article is geared specifically toward sons and the unique way we can release them.
Honoring my Husband
As my oldest son quickly approached adulthood, I noticed his needs were very much like the needs of my husband. We notice throughout Scripture that a husband greatly desires and values honor and respect from his wife. Loving is easy and comes naturally, but offering respect requires a much closer walk with the Lord. In this age, the concept of “respect must be earned” is touted. I believe, however, that the respect talked about in Scripture is very different. I like to call it “unconditional respect.” After all, I desire to be loved and treasured--even with my morning hair, postpartum body, when I say something silly, or give in to my grumpy heart. Don’t our husbands desire the same kind of respect?
Years ago, I began offering this kind of respect to my husband and the results were astounding. My aim was that no one would give him more respect than me, his wife. I wanted him to stand tall and walk into any situation knowing that I truly respected and admired him, no matter what—win or lose, succeed or fail. I challenged myself to find anything and everything in which to honor him.
Sometimes this was easy and offered freely. Other times, my own way or pride tempted me to withhold this gift to my husband. I observed how often I put “conditions” on my respect. There were moments when the respect certainly was not earned (at least, not in my eyes). However, I practiced the habit of always finding something I could encourage. Perhaps it was his honesty regarding a mistake, his willingness to get back up and try again, or his heart’s desire to do right even when his flesh failed.
When I freely offered respect, especially in those times, my heart was blessed to watch him stand taller, straighter, and fight harder. Because the pressure was off, I witnessed the transformation of an even more godly man and we bonded together in a greater manner.
Our Sons Want the Same Respect
Soon, my sons stood much taller than I (not a difficulty since I’m only 5 ft. tall). Like mini versions of my husband, these young men desire respect. Therefore, I began the habit of offering “unconditional respect” to them as well. At times, it took great effort.
Sometimes, I simply told them I was so proud of them for their will to keep trying and not give up as they worked toward maturity. Other times, witnessing the unfolding of God’s work in their lives made giving respect easier. Regardless, I began to see the same astounding results. The gift of “unconditional respect” ushered the way for them to grow from boyhood to manhood, knowing all the while that mom was their number one cheerleader.
As always, the secret to success is found in Scripture. Psalm 127 talks about the blessing of a full quiver. Yet, what good is a quiver full of arrows if they are never released to penetrate the enemy? You may think the greatest joy in life as a mama is embracing your children, holding them tight, making every attempt to keep them safe and warm from the winds of this world. I have discovered, that as good as that is, it pales in comparison to watching them grow and mature as they use their gifts and God-given abilities to shine brightly in a dark world.
Training Sons to be Battle Ready
Training your arrows to be battle-ready does not come naturally, but it is essential for the success of your launch. Young men don’t respond well to a mother who questions if they are capable or ready, directing their decisions from the sideline.
Instead, we must constantly affirm that we believe in them, see their readiness, and trust that God will guide them in the areas where growth is still needed. Almost every time I respond this way, I see the men in my life rise to the occasion. Raising godly children isn’t just about daily Bible stories and prayer. It involves discipleship, modeling, and an appeal to their hearts to find protection, joy and freedom in their walk with God.
Holding a special ceremony when each son turned thirteen, inducted them into manhood and marked the beginning of their journey. It also enabled me to begin the process of releasing them into adulthood over the next few years. At this age my husband made every effort to take over their homeschool journey---to draw his relationship with each son closer and teach them more about manhood. Because of his work, my husband could not be involved fulltime. However, knowing that Dad was monitoring their schooling and core life-muscles, imparted the vision they were indeed becoming men.
At one time, my son wanted to buy a truck with his well-earned money. In my opinion, it was not the right truck or best timing. Yet, as an adult, he needed the blessing and freedom to make his own decision, knowing his parents would respect him whatever the outcome. What a blessing to watch him rise to the occasion! He stood a little taller, confidant that he was his own man, and we were behind him all the way. As I feared, the truck was not the right fit and had to be sold at a slight monetary loss. Standing amid defeat, I spoke of how well he handled the whole situation and how I admired him as a man. Had I responded with “I told you so,” I’d have sent the heart of my son spiraling toward despair.
Both of my grown sons have developed their own businesses and worked for others. Not too long ago, I helped one of them work through some stressful aspects relating to the start-up of his business. My son shared with me how, if nothing else, this was an opportunity for him to see God provide and move in a mighty way in his life. Once again, I reaffirmed how much I respected his trust in God, even during such a stressful time.
Protect Their Purity
When you speak and act respectfully to your son, you help protect his purity. Without love and respect from his parents, a young man can be driven to insecurity and find respect in the lowliest places. He must learn to guard his heart and eyes, but respect from his parents will strengthen his purity walk.
When God brings a young woman into the life of your son, once again you stand at the door to a new season. Encourage your son to discover the same joy and love you have found in your marriage. Be his number one fan in moving his heart toward his wife.
Guard Against Fear
I am convinced that many of us respect and admire our husbands and sons, yet struggle to know how to speak it into their lives. Often we want to take control to prevent an unwanted outcome. This fear, however, robs us of the opportunity to give honor and respect. I have also learned that, as with my husband, nagging and expressing disappointment does nothing to motivate my sons to grow in maturity.
Respecting an imperfect husband can be difficult, let alone trying to respect an immature, growing young man. However, with God on our side, we have nothing to fear. As I offer respect to our sons, especially when my heart is tempted to fear, they see past me to God. They always stand taller, knowing that they have their mom and God on their side. Is God not big enough to be faithful to complete the work He began in them without our help?
Leave room for them to fail, to grow, to change, and to mature. Never “put them in a box.” Leave room for them to blow your socks off, for God to do a work in and through them and display His mightiness!
Nothing Works Without Prayer
Finally, pray! Pray for your sons, their purity, and their walk with the Lord. My heart soared when my 25-year-old son spoke these words: “Mom, you and dad are my best friends. When all the world seems against me, I know that you guys care and understand. I know that God is real and I am not afraid because I’ve seen Him in your lives.”
Recently, I welcomed our twelfth child (our sixth son) into my arms and into our family. As I treasure the newborn smells of my little man, I equally ponder the conversations and connections with my grown sons—knowing that all too soon, respect will win the heart of this little boy as well. Giving up my control and fears to the Lord is never easy, but the close relationship I have with my adult sons is a gift as precious as holding my cherished newborn.
Springfield, Oregon, USA
Printed in Above Rubies # 93.