As a mother of three strong, active and thrill-seeking boys, I have fought fear over the past twenty-five years. Today I understand how my actions, words and temperament make a tremendous difference in who my boys become. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “Boys will be boys!” And while that may be somewhat true, grooming them from boys into men is perhaps the most important and difficult task as a mom. It’s easy to tell our boys how great, smart, talented, athletic, creative and precious they are – but that’s not enough! During their early years, I began to understand that my boys needed to be able to be boys, in ways that made me as a mom very uncomfortable. I noticed it was no coincidence how they loved trucks, toy guns, swords, bugs, and being dirty. This was just how they were created. This was how they were fueled and stimulated to become men.
You see, as moms we are created to nurture, encourage and love. But often times, our boys want to play hard, climb high, go fast and take risks… All of these things oppose almost all emotions moms are made of, especially when we are referring to our sweet little darlings! The thought of one of them getting hurt is a devastating thought… so we do everything in our power to protect. But can that protection go too far? Can that “helicopter mom” instinct alter the men they are designed to be?
My husband, Danny, was raised by a very protective mother. He would say “overly-protective.” He resented so much of his childhood because he felt denied from being a boy. She might have used words like, “don’t run or you are going to fall and hurt yourself!” “Don’t ride your bike too far, someone will kidnap you!” “Don’t climb too high, you’re going to fall and break your leg!” “Don’t touch that, you will break it!” “Don’t get too close, it will bite you!” “Don’t go outside in the cold, you will get sick!”
Despite our motives, as moms we often protect by instilling fear into our boys. While that may not be on purpose, that is the reality. Please understand, boys need to become men who become their future family’s protector. There is no place for fear in the role of a true man.
Danny was very clear on his desires and expectation in raising fearless boys due to his childhood experience and its effects on him. As a woman, not understanding what it’s like to be a boy or to have lived with an over-protective mother, I was willing to respect his request and learn to fight off my own motherly fears. Don’t get me wrong, biting my tongue, keeping my calm, and not overreacting was not easy at all. But, trusting Danny and trusting in prayer was something I was willing to learn and commit to do.
As my boys grew up playing outside, chasing snakes, bugs, and spiders as often as they could, wrestling with each other, climbing tall trees, jumping off high cliffs, plus playing contact sports – I had to often remind myself the importance of allowing my boys to be boys. Making sure I paid attention to my words, how quickly I ran to their rescue – encouraging them (not discouraging them), cheering them (not holding them back), and responding in a healthy way (not reacting in a freaked out way)!
Now, don’t get me wrong… I did not allow them to endanger themselves, but I did allow them to stretch their (and my) comfort levels. We, as moms, must get used to being uncomfortable or we never become all we are made to be. And we will not be able to allow our children the greatest opportunity to become all they were made to be. The state of being uncomfortable is an essential part of life; it is an absolute in growing into the healthiest version of ourselves. This applies to sports, exercise, work, leadership, and anything that we desire, or our children desire, to be great at. If we keep our precious babies over-protected and sheltered, how can they ever explore and become the strong, fearless men they were made to be?
So, moms… please check yourselves. Pay attention to your words. Take your unhealthy thoughts captive. Admit when you are instilling unhealthy fear or unnecessary cautions into your children. Identify the issue, then admit it and quit it! Pray about ways to make healthy adjustments and better guide your boys to becoming men so that the only fear they have, is the fear of the Lord.