Back when my kids were itty bitties, I thought parenthood was hard. Now that my oldest is a few months away from middle-school, I know better. Yes, it’s definitely physically exhausting when you’re changing diapers non-stop, getting up in the middle of the night for stomach virus bathroom runs and running after your toddler a bazillion times in one day. I still quantify myself both as a “baby mom” and a “grown-up” mom. My five children range in age from almost 11 to 2. The physical demands are slowly becoming less while the mental demands are ramping up like nobody’s business.
A few months ago, several close friends and I engaged in a Bible study based on a book, authored by a Protestant mom, titled “The Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Son.” There was one chapter, one subject in particular, that drew me in completely. Raising a good son isn’t the same as raising a Godly one. Funny, because I think I’ve always used those two words interchangeably. Not any more.
I can give you a list of a hundred men I know who are good. They are polite, kind, self-sacrificing, honorable and gracious. I love being around them and am hopeful my three sons will emulate that kind of behavior. But when it comes to Godly men, the list shrinks considerably. A Godly man puts family and faith above career and work. He serves as a spiritual leader to his family, friends and co-workers. A Godly man has passion for God’s vocation in his life and is open to His will. A Godly man lives a life for Christ.
That’s a tall order and, admittedly, during the study I started feeling overwhelmed and completely unqualified to be a mom to my three growing sons. Enter, Theology of the Body (TOB). I’d heard of the great things this program did on college campuses but I wondered if they offered anything for the younger set. Enter, providence! Nearly hot off the presses are two guides, one for middle schoolers and one for high schoolers. It’s a complete study that is incredibly user-friendly, applicable, hip and true to our faith as Catholics. There’s a parent guide, student guide, leader guide and interactive DVD. I was elated and relieved to have such an awesome resource.
At a recent funeral of a family friend, we were reminded of the sign this amazing mom hung on her front door. “Our job as parents is to give our children two things: roots and wings.” The wings are much harder to give to our children, I think. I want my boys to be convicted, rooted in faith and able to walk away from a tempting situation. I want them to view relationships with women as pure and holy. I want them to be the same kind of husband to their wives as my husband is to me. I want them to recognize that the secular world has it (mostly) wrong and it’s okay to be different. Those kinds of desires for my boys won’t just happen, they require intention and purpose on my part. Someday, much sooner than I wish, they will leave our protective nest and will have to figure it out for themselves. What kind of men will we have formed?
My husband and I have never been one to set aside difficult conversations with our children, particularly our oldest son. When he asked why we don’t eat at Hooters, I told him why and a wonderfully amazing conversation ensued. He ended it with, “One day, when I am President, I will shut down all the Hooters!” Our children know the real names for all their body parts, we don’t believe in nicknaming anything. When pornography made its ugly entrance into our home, God gave us the wisdom to deal with it head-on. We have high standards for our children and we don’t apologize for them. If a friend is watching a movie that tests morality, we ask that it not be shown. I hesitate to say we’ve had “the talk”, because it’s been an ongoing conversation in bits and pieces for many years.
The one thing I know is this: my boys will learn to be Godly through example. I make mistakes everyday and I pray I’m not giving them too much fodder for their future therapy sessions. My husband and I try to be real, honest and forthcoming. Our standards are high, but I want my sons to see the beauty of commitment. The honor in having a chaste life. The rewards in heaven for being a follower of Christ.
The truth is, none of us can do it alone. Grab a girlfriend, carve out some time with your husband and surround yourself with other faithful families. Godly men don’t happen by chance.