Volume 13, Issue 6: Femina
Mothers and Sons
That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth. Psalm 144:12
David is singing praise to God in Psalm 144, praying for deliverance from his enemies, seeking
God's continued blessing on His people, and describing what he envisions this blessing will look like. Part of this description is the verse above where sons who are blessed of God are likened to plants that achieve maturity while they are still young. A plant grown up in its youth is a picture not only of early maturity, but also of significance, productivity, and strength. This kind of son is impressive in stature, despite his youth.
Though we acknowledge with David that God is the One who is the source of such blessing, we
also realize that He uses means to accomplish His ends. And mothers are one of these ordained
means. Mothers have opportunity to bring great good to their sons, and they can also enfeeble them.
Let's consider a few of the things mothers can do and avoid as they bring their sons up in the Lord.
First things should always come first. A mother must be a faithful Christian and a faithful wife before she can fulfill her secondary duties as a mother. One of the best things a mother can do for her son is to demonstrate to him that she takes the Bible seriously by walking in obedience to God and respecting her husband, her son's father. A boy finds joy in seeing his father respected. This is the way God has made sons. Sons run on respect just like their fathers, and it is important that they not only see their fathers respected, but they must receive respect in the home as well. It will look different from the respect the head of the house receives, but sons need to be praised and admired for their achievements and accomplishments, just like Dad. This means mothers treat their sons with courtesy, and sisters are taught to treat their brothers the same way. Courtesy excludes
scolding, running down, picking on, or criticizing. Mothers should not share their son's weaknesses, failures, or sins anymore than they should share their husband's. Rather, they should seek to build them up, encourage them, and praise them for their good work. The mama-bear syndrome does not encourage masculinity. This is the mother who wants to fight all her son's battles for him and pick up all the pieces when he fails. This kind of mother shoulders all her son's responsibility for him and teaches him to look for a wife who will continue to mother him in this way.
Sons need to be given responsibility suited to their age and gifts. This might mean helping to look after little sister or setting the table when they are young. But their responsibilities should take on more size and significance as they get bigger. Because sons should not be taught to be home-centered like their sisters, they need to learn masculine tasks. This does not mean sons cannot help in the kitchen, but it does mean that they should be taught that the kitchen is not their long-term destination. They will find their calling outside the home.
Mothers need to require both physical and mental toughness from their sons. Though motherly affection is a godly attribute, it can run amok when it turns into sentimental molly coddling and indulgence. Physical toughness means sons have to learn to "suck it up." When a toddler falls down and skins his knee, of course a hug and a kiss from Mom is essential. But then he must be told when the crying should be all done. A few seconds may be plenty, depending on how severe the injury. But there is no need to let it drag out. Take a breath. Be tough. All done. If a toddler is allowed to "flip out" when he gets hurt, it will take him far more effort to learn to
control himself later. Mothers especially need to be taught to be tough for and with their sons. If a junior-high age son is still crying when he gets hurt, something is seriously amiss. But self-control includes temper as well. A son who doesn't cry, but who yells and stomps, is just as much an embarrassment as the son who bawls. Neither behavior should be tolerated in sons.
This goes for academics as well. It does not matter whether Mom is backing up a teacher or if she is the teacher herself, sons must be held to high standards. Academic laziness is as deadly as physical laziness. Sons must be required to work hard in both areas, and they must suffer the consequences when they slack off. This means that mothers must not give in to excuses. Just because a son does not like math or does not show an aptitude for reading does not mean he should be allowed to skip it this year. That is a grievous mistake that will teach him that he doesn't have to exert himself in areas that are unappealing to him. Far from equipping a young man to be a leader, this kind of limpness emasculates sons.
As we bring up sons before the Lord, all of our training and teaching must be saturated with Scripture. We cannot expect our sons to be mature without filling them with much biblical teaching. Every mother should give her son Proverbs to read and reread. He must be taught that he is expected to do these things because He serves a good and holy God. This, by God's grace, will equip and prepare our sons to take their places in the city gates
with their fathers.