Raising a son…..
I took my middle son to Florida for a family gathering recently. It has been a year since most of them had seen him and I was very heartened by what they said. Yes, he was a year older and a bit smarter. He was taller and had a little more muscle on him. But what surprised them was his new self-confidence, his laughter and smiles, his gregarious and friendly demeanor, and the obvious joy he got in being with his uncles, aunts and cousins.
All my children were adopted, and the middle child was brought into my home when he was nine. The difference now is that he belongs. He knows that he will never again have to pack his suitcase and move into another foster home or go and stay with a distant relative again. He is now relaxed and at peace knowing that his is where he can be safe and protected. He has a home.
But there’s another thing that has made him “fit in”, I think. I have told him “no” far more often than I have told him “yes”. I have required that he, and his brothers, work for thirty minutes to an hour a day. He has been told that he is expected to excel at school and not look for excuses for being a bit behind in his classes. I’ve reminded him that I am not overly concerned that he is “happy”, because that’s a choice he makes, but that I will give him every reason to be happy.
He’s also been told that he is not the center of the universe, that life is not fair, that I cannot be counted upon to always be right, but that he must nonetheless comply with my rules and expectations.
My sons do not have a very modern or “cool” father, but I am trying to raise sons that the rest of the world can appreciate and endure—-and that means that I am quite unpopular half the time. I also recognize that I am training my sons against the grain of the common understanding of parenting (they are the only ones they know that do not possess an iPhone, for example).
But the closer I am to them, the more I hope they know that they can mess up, fall down and disappoint me, but they are yet secure in my relationship with them-no matter what I will not give them away. I hope that throughout the chores, denial of PG13 movies, and those lofty expectations that run counter to how their friends behave that they continue to feel secure, safe and confident.
I expect more of them because I believe in them and their ability to overcome those things that others have offered as an excuse for living mediocre lives. But then, that’s the same way my heavenly Father treats me. I am a far cry from expressing God’s love, but I understand, a little bit better, the depth and mystery of the Father’s love now that I have sons to love.