Children need many things from their parents. They need stability, protection, nurturing, and love. They also need other things, different things from each of their parents.
Because I am a mommy to a little boy, this is what I know. So, here’s the list of things I hope I give to my little guy, in order to help him grow into a good man – the things I think every little boy needs from his mom.
A boy needs:
1. To be showered with affection - hugs, kisses, all of it. Until he is big enough to not want that anymore. Then he needs you to ruffle his hair, put your hand on his shoulder, and hug him anyway. He needs to know the importance of human contact so that he doesn’t keep it from his wife or children.
2. To dance – in the car, in the living room, in the front yard. Slow dance, crazy dance, any kind of dancing the song calls for, even if there’s no song at all. He will learn that life has a soundtrack. That there is no moment too small to celebrate, and the big ones….. they almost always call for dancing.
3. To be told secrets – and let him tell them to you. Big or small. Doesn’t matter what they are. He needs to know that he can always talk to you, about anything. And besides, secrets are fun!
4. For you to marry the kind of man you want him to be – because he will. His views of marriage are shaped by what he sees from you. He will model himself after the men in his life. The kind of husband he is, the kind of father he is, the kind of man he is. You can’t example that to him, so find someone who will.
5. To learn the kinds of things that women need – tell him your favorite flower and let him “buy” them for you. Let him take you out to dinner. Let him open doors and hold your hand. Show him what a gentleman looks like.
6. To appreciate beauty, real beauty – don’t put yourself down in front of him. He will learn to see you like you see you. He will, at some point, think you are the most beautiful woman in the world. Let him. Don’t tell him he’s wrong. Let him watch you do your nails, your hair, and your make-up. It won’t make him less “manly”, but it will help him understand that women need to feel beautiful. Hopefully, he’ll spend the rest of his life appreciating the lengths we go to in order to attain that beauty.
7. Discipline – don’t just let his father do it. He needs to respect that you are a figure of authority also. He needs to know that your voice carries just as much weight. He needs to understand what co-parenting looks like; he’ll do it himself someday.
8. To respect – he will treat his wife the way he was allowed to treat you. He will treat every woman the way he was allowed to treat you. Show him that the correct way to speak to women is with respect and dignity. He’ll thank you for it some day.
9. To learn to say ‘sir’ and ‘miss’ - it will take him so far in life. People appreciate this little extra bit of politeness and respect. It can make someone’s day to be made to feel important and appreciated.
10. Comfort – kiss his boo boo’s, hold him when he needs it. He’ll learn that when it hurts, it’s ok to cry. Eventually your kisses won’t fix everything, but knowing that you want to fix it, that you wish you could heal every one of his broken hearts, it will give him some comfort. It will give him a place to start healing and a spot to launch from when the time comes to get back up.
11. Responsibility – make him put his own laundry away, take out the trash, and help you do the dishes. Make him earn an allowance to save up for that new guitar, or video game, or baseball equipment. If you don’t, all housework will forever be known as “woman’s work” and nobody wants a man like that. You want him to be the man who will step up and help his wife take care of their home. You want him to learn to take care of the things he has acquired and you want him to know how to work for something he wants.
12. To learn his lesson – even the hard ones. This is one of the hardest parts. As mothers we want to shield our children from the big, bad world. We want to run to them every time we see them start down a path that will lead no place good. We want to take their place every time they might get hurt. And sometimes they need that. Sometimes they need shielding and protecting. Sometimes they need mom to swoop in and save the day. And sometimes they don’t. They will be more effective adults if they are given the opportunity to learn that actions have consequences. They will be more effective adults if they learn how to walk away or say no themselves. And they will be more effective adults if they learn how to handle disappointment.
13. To see his mom respect his father – show him every day what respect looks like. Show him the way a wife should treat her husband. If you’re not married to his father, show him the way to co-parent peacefully, with respect. He needs a woman who will respect him. Show him what to look for.
14. Love, unconditionally – and make sure he knows it. When he’s being sweet and obedient. And when he’s not. Every time my son is in trouble, after he has served out whatever punishment he has earned and/or we have had the necessary discussions, I always tell him I love him. We always end on a positive. I never want him to doubt my love for him and I want him to understand that there is nothing he could do to make my love for him diminish. It is very important to me that he knows my love for him is unconditional.
15. To talk to his mom about sex – when he’s old enough and the timing is right. Let his dad talk to him, too, but he needs a woman’s perspective. He needs to know the emotional sides to sex and the ways in which he can damage, or love, a woman with them. He needs to have a place he can ask questions and be honest. He needs more than just the facts and the hormones.
16. His mom to be his biggest fan – whether it be on the sports field or at the World Series, his first guitar lesson or a stage, a finger painting or an art gallery masterpiece. Be his biggest fan. The world is full of people just waiting to show him he’s not the best. Let him know, that in your eyes, they will always be wrong.
17. His mom to be right next to him – through everything. Hold his little body when he’s sick and his hand when he’s broken-hearted. Stand next to him, with pride, on his first day of kindergarten and his high school graduation. Help him fix his tie for his first date and his wedding day. Be the first one to him after the birth of his children. Be right next to him… every time.