Ok, so technically I haven't raised boys yet. I've got a 5 year old, so I've got a while to go before I can consider him "raised", but with the arrival of my second son just around the corner it got me thinking. Thinking of how much my life has changed since entering parenthood. How much more enriched (albeit challenging) it's become. It's not something you can really describe to someone without kids. We all want to raise our children the best we can, feed them the healthiest foods, buy them the nicest clothes, newest toys....but what about supplying them with the things money can't buy like honesty, loyalty, gentleness and an enviable work ethic? In order for him to grow to be a man he can be proud of, I strive daily to follow some points of advice I've come across in my few short years of parenting:
1) Show affection - At the end of the day I will never question whether or not my son knows I love him. I tell him when he's brushing his teeth, I yell it across the road, I say it when he's in trouble, when he's sad, mad, hurt, irritated. I'm always giving him hugs, squeezes and kisses even when he's quick to resist them. "Men who give affection freely grew up getting it".
2) Respect for others - Always treat other adults in his life with respect. This one is really lead by example. Boys will respect someone who's not a doormat. When he breaks a rule, there are consequences, no ifs ands or buts (admittedly I need work on this). This all boils down to making sure he listens to authority figures, obeys rules and deals with conflict in a caring way. That paves the road for a respectful young man.
3) Self Esteem - For the most part Liam marches to the tune of his own wild drum. The only time he's ever shown any insecurity is when he got his first pair of eyeglasses. He was a little worried at first that his classmates would think he looked weird, but after a quick pep talk, he braved his Kindergarten class and guess what? He was fine! We always recognize and praise his efforts, speak to him with respect and celebrate Liam for being Liam.
4) Empathy - This is a big one for me. Teaching my son to walk in someone else's shoes is, in my opinion, one of the most important in this list. A few times he's come home from school complaining that he missed recess because while playing he pushed someone or laughed at another. Now Liam knows that in our house bullying never has been and never will be ok. So when he tells me these things I am quick to remind him of how hurtful it is when other people make fun of him or push him and how we treat others how we would like to be treated in return.
So there's the big four. I really had about 4 other points I wanted to throw in there, but I am dead tired and can save it for another day! Night, all!