Contrary to popular opinion in our modern society, boys and girls are wired differently. God has created men for different purposes than women. This isn’t to say that men are better than women or vice versa. Just different. And we would be wise to recognize these differences and to celebrate them rather than trying to pretend that they aren’t there or trying to make them go away.
I was fortunate to hear Dr. Gregory Jantz on a recent Focus on the Family episode talking about his book, Raising Boys by Design. Dr. Jantz is a licensed mental health counselor who advocates treating the whole person rather than just their symptoms. His book is based on the latest brain science research as well as on timeless truths from the Bible.
During the program, Dr. Jantz said that if we want our boys to become all that God has created them to be, it’s important for us to understand how we can best connect with them and nurture their God-given talents and abilities.
Some of the points Dr. Jantz spoke about were new to me. Some of them corroborated points I’ve been trying to make on my blog for a long time. But all of his advice was extremely useful when it comes to understanding our sons and how best to relate to them. There are always exceptions to every rule, however these qualities are good starting points when we are trying to better connect with our sons.
Here are 8 Important Things to Understand About Our Sons:
Sometimes, it’s difficult for us moms to understand what is going on in our son’s mind, and that is because their brains don’t work the same way that ours do. First, they benefit from lots of movement while they are learning. It’s important for us to try to make their lessons active. Give them plenty of brain breaks. And we should try to keep their lessons on the shorter side rather than droning on and on.
Another important point is that boys generally have fewer pathways connecting the left and right hemispheres of their brain than do girls. This makes them think sequentially and less able to multi-task. If you find your son getting confused or forgetting what you’ve asked him to do, try giving him one thing to process at a time. Keep it simple.
It’s not unusual to see boys tapping their pencils, bouncing their foot, fiddling with objects, pacing the floor, or squirming in their seats. This is because boys use movement to keep themselves awake and alert. Rather than having your son sit on a chair, consider getting him a ball chair. Allow him to have an object in his hands to mess with while he does his work.
If you want to have a conversation with your son, do something with him at the same time. Go for a walk, play catch, do something besides just sitting there and staring at him.
3 – They need us to believe in them
Males have fragile egos. They need us to remind them that they are special and that God has a plan for their lives. They need us to believe in them.
Be sure to speak positive words over your son – not just for what he does but for who he is. When you tuck him into bed at night, remind him that God has designed him a specific way for a purpose. Our sons need our encouragement.
4 – They benefit from mentors
Boys learn so much from their parents, however, they also benefit greatly from non-family members who are willing to speak truth into their lives. This can come from a coach, a pastor, or a trusted friend. When a boy has a mentor who can see value in how God made him, this can increase his confidence immeasurably.
It’s also extremely beneficial for parents to have someone else backing up what they are trying to tell their sons. You want the coolest people they know to agree with your values. Be intentional about helping your son to form these kinds of relationships.
Ever had the experience where you ask your son a question and he says, “I don’t know” or “Fine?” Females are generally much more verbal than are males, although, that is not always the case. If you have a son who isn’t a talker, there are some things you can do to help draw him out.
Try to have a conversation with him while doing something. Rather than making him sit down and look you in the eye, go on a walk with him or throw a ball back and forth while you talk.
Allow your son to have an object in his hands to fiddle with while you speak to him. Or let him draw while he’s listening to you. This type of activity actually helps boys pay better attention to what you’re saying. And rather than asking them how they feel about something, ask them what they think about it.
It’s easy to mistakenly think that your son doesn’t want to have a relationship with you if you go by how often he initiates a conversation with you or by how much he enjoys spending time alone in his room. But fortunately, there are ways to help keep a close connection with your son.
The best way to do this is to enter your son’s world. Spend some time doing something with him that he enjoys doing. If he loves playing video games, play with him. If he loves shooting hoops, go out and play Pig or Horse with him.
Talk about things he enjoys talking about. Ask him questions about his interests. Ask about his friends or about what he’s doing in youth group. Show interest in him!
Men want to be heroes and our sons are men in training. They have the same need for respect that our husbands have. God has placed a desire to be great and a need to conquer inside each of our sons. This desire will cause them to want to compete with those around them to prove their worth. They love to have battles! They like to come out on top.
The positive side of this is that we can use their competitive spirit to help them want to improve and to grow. The downside is that our boys put a lot of pressure on themselves to be better than the next guy. As moms, we need to allow our sons to have constructive outlets where they’re able to satisfy their competitive urges. This is where team sports can play such a beneficial role in the lives of our boys. Boys who aren’t athletic can benefit from participating in science fairs, music competitions, chess clubs, boy scouts, 4H, and other competitive activities.
Boys like to play rough, and as moms it can be difficult to watch. When my boys are scrapping with each other, I like to break it up to make sure no one gets hurt. Dr. Jantz says that boys learn by fighting each other. Moms want to intervene but our sons are just playing and having fun.
He warns about trying to keep our boys from experiencing any kind of harm. He says that our boys learn from natural consequences so much more than from lectures. We need to remember that if our son gets a scrape on his knee it isn’t going to kill him, and it will teach him to go about things differently next time.
Boys and girls are very different from each other. And that’s a good thing. God has specifically created us so that our differences will compliment each other. If you’re interested in learning more about your sons, I highly recommend the book Raising Boys by Design by Dr. Gregory Jantz and Michael Gurian.
Sometimes it’s hard for moms of boys to understand what’s going on in the minds of our sons. It’s very apparent that they don’t think the same way that we do! But when we attempt to learn about how their minds work and learn how to best connect with them, we will be much more successful at building strong relationships with our sons and helping them to feel confident and comfortable in themselves.
This article originally appeared at Michelle’s blog.