On Raising a Boy

Sitting here, feeling my active son engage in some pre-natal athletic behavior, I was interested to read Abraham Piper’s blog today, and the post it referenced.  The issue being discussed is the relationship between mothers and sons – which is obviously apropos to my life right now.

To quote Jenna’s post:

There’s Father-Daughter banquets. And being a “Daddy’s girl” is a good thing.

There’s the Father-Son bonding that’s so important. Roughing it. Wrestling. Adventure. There are even retreats for Fathers and Sons.

There’s the Mother-Daughter relationship that is just as beloved as the Father/Son. Bonding over shopping (supposedly), and cooking (perhaps) and staying attached for life (“because the Bible says, ‘therefore a man shall leave his mother and father,’ but not the woman”…you’ve heard that, perhaps?)

But, what about Mothers and Sons?

Now, I must say that as the mama to a little girl,  while I pray I will have a life long relationship with my daughter, I am very conscious of the fact that, Lord willing, she will one day find a wonderful man who will change her name.  I have every expectation that my daughter will leave me and her father and create a new family.

I think this expectation shapes the way I look at this discussion about parental roles.   I don’t think it’s a matter of one role being favored over another, I think it’s a difference in the nature of the parental roles period.

Mothers, by God’s design, are the nurturers, the caregivers.  We carry these little beings inside our own bodies while they develop, and then (mostly) we feed them from our own bodies.  As mothers, our relationship from birth is defined by letting go.  As soon as our children are born we begin losing our ability to completely care for them.

Fathers, on the other hand, are defined by discovery.  At the same moment a mother is letting go for the first time, a father is experiencing his child for the first time.  When a child is being weaned to table food, the mother is letting go, and the father is beginning to share the chance to contribute to feeding his child.  By God’s design, the relationship with a father requires a level of investment and purposeful bonding that is less important in the maternal relationship.

As a result, we mothers tend (I say tend, because I know many a fine mother who is not doing this) to want to hold on tighter.  We want to say “No, you can’t drive, because you might get hurt.”  or “Don’t climb that tree, you could fall out.”  or “Stay away from that gun, you could shoot your foot off!”  Fathers, generally, want to say “Let me teach you to drive safely.” or “Let me find a tree sturdy enough for you to climb.”  or “Here is the safe way to load and use a gun.”  Both roles are necessary, and both roles are God ordained.

I am so delighted at my opportunity to participate in the raising of a girl AND a boy.  I am humbled at the role God has created for me, and I am relieved that I have been given a husband to do the heavy lifting, both literally and spiritually, in this joint adventure.  And to be honest, I don’t care if our culture treasures or honors any part of the journey.

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About Coralie

After 11 years of infertility, I am now a mother to three, a wife of a Presbyterian (ARP) preacher and a struggling homemaker. Welcome to my little corner of the net. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and join the conversation. View all posts by Coralie

3 responses to “On Raising a Boy

  • Roberta Taylor

    Raising a boy (speaking as a mother here) is a joy and an endless frustration (frustration because we simply can’t quite understand them- that’s one reason we need our husbands). They are so different from our girls, and yet their needs are the same in so many ways as well. They need hugs and loving and patient correction and a cheering section.

    And while bonding with a father may be more deliberate and take (sometimes) greater effort, a mother defines much of her son and shapes his idea of a godly woman. But I think that this lies in the daily things, the routines and safe harbour you create. Because if Dad if for exploring, Mom is for the hot cocoa (yes I said that) at the end of the day and the kisses on the knees. And both are so needed.

    It took a long while for J to build a bond with Ben, due to the problems surrounding his birth, and it bothered him greatly. But I love seeing the two of them now, strategizing together to beat a computer game or roast a chicken (two activities considered quite manly in our home). And the older he gets, the more he turns to his dad. It is a long journey, from infant to man, but a joy to watch.

  • Marianne

    I loved this post, Coralie. (Well, I love your writing in general!) I wish I had something of value to add, but I don’t. I know that I find my boy to be an amazing joy and blessing every day. I know too that we’re so blessed to have my husband, an wonderful kind-hearted man, in our life. I guess we’ll figure out the rest.

  • Tera Montgomery

    You and Jonathan are and will continue to be (God willing) amazing parents to mackerdoodle and to cheesedoodle.

    And I agree. To some extent we must make our own way (as a family) regardless of what the world around will have do or think. That is what makes a family so strong and special (and freeing).

    And I agree with Marianne…I love your writing 🙂

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