Are you concerned about raising Godly boys? Remember *relationship before rules*!
Raising Godly Boys: Relationship Before Rules
I heard my homeschool podcasting buddy, Dr. Melanie Wilson, say something about parenting that was simple and profound: Relationship before rules.
Those 3 words sum up wise, intentional parenting for raising Godly boys.
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I have 4 sons, so I can totally relate to what Melanie was saying. My boys were active when they were little: climbing, running, bringing lizards in the house.
They stopped bringing lizards in the house by the time they were in high school and their brains became as active and questioning as their bodies. Instead of having to pretend I liked lizards, by the time they were adolescents, I had to pretend that I enjoyed all the “Why?” and “Why not?” queries.
Those of us who have boys know that no matter the age, they are often going to do or think something that makes us uncomfortable!
On those days, it is easy to make up a rule. Rules simplify life. They make things clear. Rules can also drive a wedge between parents and boys if there isn’t a solid relationship first.
You might know a parent who is a no-nonsense, *we do rules here* person. Have you ever watched a parent who runs the family like he/she is the monarch and children are their minions? If you watch carefully, you might have seen that their children tend to be:
- Outwardly obedient
- Inwardly angry or anxious
Adolescents of those parents tend to experience 1 of 2 things:
- Angry, sneaky adolescent years
- Anxious, overly compliant adolescence and a messy mid-life crisis later on
Raising young boys can be difficult. Raising teen boys can be more difficult. However, not all teens are destined to be those angry, acting out teens that are in movies or stories. It is possible to raise Godly boys. One of the keys is: relationship!
How do you create a home where there is relationship before rules?
It is not that hard to have a relationship-first home but it is more time consuming and messy than just a rule-oriented home. Here are 5 tips:
Make sure each day that you stop and make eye contact with your boys.
Have you ever noticed that we moms can get so busy that our sons only get to talk to our ears? We listen, but we are multi-tasking: cooking, grading papers, cleaning… When we moms stop what we are doing and look our boys in the eyes, they feel loved. They truly feel like valued sons.
Make sure each day that you give your boys positive physical touch.
Boys need a hug, a pat on the back, a high five, a shoulder bump. When they receive those boyish physical interactions, they feel loved. They feel like they are part of the family team.
Make sure each day that you give your boys some focused attention.
Focused attention is the time you spend just listening and concentrating on 1 son. Just 1. It doesn’t have to be long (5 minutes can work) but it does need to happen. It makes them feel like they are worth something.
The cool thing about modeling focused attention with your sons is that they get an IRL symbol through their parents of the way that God focuses His attention on each of us and assigns His worth to us. Boys learn about God through their interactions with their parents.
Make sure each day that you give your boys unconditional love.
Unconditional love doesn’t mean that you put up with disrespectful, mean or hurtful behaviors. It simply means that no matter what a son has done that day, he will be forgiven (even when corrective discipline must be applied). A boy who is receiving unconditional love might hear things like:
- *I love you.* (Randomly spoken or at ritual times, like bedtime.)
- *Even though what you did was wrong and you need some consequences, I still love you.*
- *I don’t like what you did, but I love you.*
A boy who receives unconditional love feels secure in his family.
Again, this unconditional love from parents to sons is a symbol of God’s unconditional love for us. He allows us to have consequences for poor choices sometimes but his forgiveness is always securely there for us.
Any son who has a secure relationship with his parents can flourish with a few boundary-setting rules.
Boys don’t need 100 rules. Neither they nor we can remember that many…for goodness sake, it’s hard to remember the 10 Commandments! But we sure can remember the instructions (rules) that Jesus gave us in Matthew 22: 37-39:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind…and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
If you can pick a handful of character-shaping rules that are written down, discussed and displayed for easy remembering, you’ll find boys can handle that and manage obedience better than with a long, harsh list of rules. Of course, breaking rules requires corrective consequences and these should not be random, but clear and lovingly but consistently applied.
When our sons were little the rules looked like:
- Don’t sass your mama (they never sassed their dad for some reason, so they didn’t need a rule for that)
- Do not slam doors (Can you imagine what event created the necessity of a rule like that?)
- Don’t hit your siblings
- Do not have fun at another’s expense
- Two-time rule (don’t keep saying the same thing over and over and over… just a quirky irritating behavior but is disrespectful to the listeners)
The rules changed as they got older. Raising Godly boys requires prayer and flexibility!
The inspiration for the way we raised Godly sons came from Ross Campbell‘s book How to Really Love Your Child. I’d like to invite you to listen to some of our character-formation episodes at Homeschool Highschool Podcast. Or read some encouraging posts on character development at 7SistersHomeschool.com.
God bless you as you enjoy experiencing relationship before rules.
What are Some Ways that you Put Relationship Before Rules?
Resource for Boys:
Cinema Studies for Literature Learning Curriculum a full-year high school course for literature learning using the medium of movies! by Sabrina Justison Giveaway of the 7 Sisters Homeschool!
Vicki Tillman wants to help your homeschooling high school experience to be the best homeschool years of all. She is homeschool coach, blogger and high school curriculum developer for 7SistersHomeschool.com (and a mental health counselor). She has graduated all 4 of her sons (and her daughter) from homeschooling. You can do it, too!