As I sit here, my boys are heavy on my mind. Our girls, our boys, all of our children hold weight in my thoughts. By all accounts the five sons we are raising fall under privileged white boy status. We are not wealthy by any means, but that is not the privilege I am referring to.
The moms I converse with in daily life, the ones I respect and admire for their committment to their families, for their humility, I know they are trying to raise good kids. I want to trust this is what we are all working toward. We are concerned as the mess, in our homes and in the world, swirls around us. An anger arises and I understand it, I feel it too. I am suspended between the woman who grieves and the mom raising the white boys who will become white men. We are raising them to be the good ones, the safe ones—beyond grateful for the solid and strong examples they have in their lives, my husband’s committment to this joined with mine. Still it gives me pause.
What do we tell our boys?
Collectively, we believe our boys are good, we think we are pouring all the right things into them. We teach and correct them. We pray, we hope. We talk to our friends raising boys. We seek out a mentor who understands the trenches. We read, we learn. We hold them accountable while allowing the grace of being a growing child. If we are honest, humble, we hope we are doing enough and are open to what we can do better.
Ultimately, we seek the balance of accountability and grace.
As we look to what is playing out on the mainstage of our country, we are in great need of both. An indivisible nation, divided, torn. A massive fault line between the aisle. At the center, an issue not partisan or particular to one race, creed, or religion. It is one that exists at the core of humanity. Now, a reckoning arises from the misuse of grace and the lack of accountability. It happens every time we try to play God. The scale has been tipping for generations. Ignorance dances and celebrates at this time, declares a win in something that was never a game. A competitive spirit displayed instead of what we desperately need—the human spirit.
This is part of what we tell our boys. Adults act like some things are a game when they’re not. People left hurting, confused, wounds exposed and unattended, that is never a win. We get this wrong, we focus on THE WIN and whatever it takes to get it.
We tell them the composition of our character matters. It far outweighs any accomplishment. How far you make it doesn’t matter as much as what you did to get there.
It is character not notoriety that generations are built upon.
We tell them that their character is best on display when no one is looking, when the spotlight is not shined upon them, when there is no one around to inflate their ego—when their ‘bros’ aren’t around to impress. Who they are then, is who they really are—the man in the lights needs to match the man in the dark.
Confidence is not cockiness.
Well-liked is not manipulative.
Kindness does not have motive in the driver’s seat.
We help them understand that while they respect all adults, some lack character themselves. They take care of ‘their boys’ and abuse their position of power, and our boys need to identify this flaw and be prepared to stand against it.
Someone void of good character is not a good judge of character.
We tell them they can attend church every Sunday and that is a great committment to keep, but not more important to their life than personally knowing Jesus. It’s about what happens between Sundays.
We tell them their accountability is not to their mom, dad, brothers, sisters, friends, cousins, but as a son of God.
We tell them the choices they make are important but so is their ability to own them.
Moms, we need to care about what starts small. We steal the transformation that is grace when we enable sin. Mercy and grace do not disguise themselves with a cloak of enabling. The process of grace itself is kicked off by the acknowledgement of our wrongdoing. The small things become the big things when left unchecked.
When we miss the connection, the crossover between what our boys know is not good becomes acceptable because we allow it. It starts small, oh so small, but the seed planted is that our boy thinks he is better than someone else. He is enabled. What starts out as, “I am better than,” leads to the bigger, “this person is less than me,” initially a subtle shift in thinking, that grows.
As women, moms, we know where that point is.
And we have to check ourselves too. We don’t always realize the comments we make carry so much weight to our kids, the offhanded remarks, the undertones of superiority, our kids are really good at picking up on them and carrying them for us. Whomever we disrespect, they will too. The fear of missing out in the driver’s seat, never leads anywhere healthy.
We help them discern friends with good character, to see manipulation for what it is. To walk away when reason has not prevailed. Unfortunately, there are good kids that make bad choices and sometimes they will need to distance themselves for a time. Respectful boys elevate their environment and friendships.
If you are tempted to believe there is no place for the good guys, they will just get run over or passed by, I get it. It’s a real fear. When my boys hurt because they do what is right, it is so hard to sit by and watch. I would tell you to add for now to your thoughts, this is hard for now, this isn’t right for now, this is unfair for now, because that’s just it, it is only for now. Hold tight to the promise that He will make every wrong right.
Look around, the world is crying out for the good guys.
Moms, this is not a time to give up, bury our heads in the sand or shrink back. God gave us great responsibility and influence in our boys’ lives. It is convicting to think how important women were in Jesus’ life. He respected, trusted, confided in women from all walks. Women felt safe with Jesus. He revealed himself to the women.
We not only tell our boys, we point them to the One who is good.