I have been taking part in Letter Writing Week sponsored by Alexandra Franzen who has a pretty nifty website here. As a communications person Alexandrea gets the importance of letter writing and communicating clearly. I respect that and have always been driven to write letters. I think it partially stems from having my parents ask me to write a weekly letter when I went to college. That simple letter every week instilled in me the love of writing and the importance of being clear in my communications. I guess you could say my parents gave me that gift with their expectation.
The week of letter writing has been interesting. The letters have ranged from letters to a hero, to an apology letter to a letter giving advice. I try not to give unsolicited advice. I mean, really, who wants someone to give advice about something that they did not ask advice for? That seems to me to be a very easy way to lose or at the very least wreck a friendship.
So I decided instead I would blog my advice. Then you can choose to read or not. You can just hit your browser button to return to where you were before you popped over to It’s Just Life. I actually have decided to share a post I wrote when I guest blogged for Katy over at Learning As I Go. She is one of my North Iowa Blogger friends whom I love dearly. She is the stepmom to two growing boys and had asked me to write a post for her with advice for a mom of boys. I did and this is what I gave her. Enjoy. Or not. It’s totally up to you if you want to continue or if you click back to where you came. But I really do hope you stay.
Dear New Somewhat Frazzled Mom of Boys,
I’ve been there. Believe me I have. And I lived through it so I thought I would share a few little bits of wisdom with you from my vast experience. You see my boys are now 29 and 26 years old so I think I can pretty safely say that I have made it to the other side of raising them and the good news is that we all came out alive and relatively unscathed.
Here are a few things I can share with you. Everyone says it and it is a cliché but time passes very quickly. In the blink of an eye your preteens are teenagers. In another blink of an eye they are in their twenties and you wonder what the heck happened. With that being said it is simple. Enjoy each moment. They won’t be there forever.
Count your blessings. Yes, even all of those trips to and from sporting events, music lessons, school activities and friend events that seem endless during this time. Make those moments in the car count. Turn the music down, make them take their earbuds out and talk to you. It doesn’t have to be anything deep but my boys remember those conversations that we had as we were driving back and forth.
Be THE house. The house that they want to bring their friends to. The hub. The gathering place. It serves a few purposes. One– it lets you know who their friends are and be able to establish friendships with them as well. It also allows you to have a little bit of control which in this day and age is a good thing. All that is required is a full fridge and pantry, lots of snacks, video systems and acceptance. I loved being the house that they felt welcomed in and a couple weeks ago I had the privilege of helping at the wedding of one of my son’s friends. It was amazing and an honor and it was because I knew his friends.
Be intentional about spending time together as a family. It isn’t always easy but it is how you make memories and cement yourselves as a family. Make family dates. They are as important as couple dates.
Laugh a lot. Let’s face it. Boys can be gross sometimes. They emit all kinds of sounds and smells that “girls” like us can’t understand. They come up with situations and scenarios that are just “boy” and there is no way around it. Some of those things are downright fun. So embrace that and love that they are boys and that they will grow up to be men someday.
Teach them manners. I can’t say enough about this. When we lived in the South it is commonplace to hear “please” and “thank you” and “Ma’am”. Opening doors and being respectful will get them far in life and if that is something that you and your husband can help model for them it will be the best example to them.
Love them unconditionally. Plain and simple. Each child has their own personality and characteristics. Don’t compare siblings to each other. It does nothing but tear them down. Instead highlight their strengths and unique abilities. It is simple and the best way to raise well balanced and well adjusted boys. I guess it goes for any child, not just boys, but I think boys especially benefit from being appreciated for how unique they are.
I could probably write a book on raising boys. The best thing is that once they get older and leave home and are on their own (if they are ever REALLY on their own) you can enjoy a whole new relationship with them. When they are younger you just can’t be a friend. You have to have authority and those lines have to be distinct and not blurred. But oh—when they leave the home and you miss them so much you think you can’t stand it—they will call or text and tell you that they love you and that makes the whole experience even sweeter. It makes all those difficult moments when they challenged you as a teenager such distant memories. It makes you appreciate that you really did a good job despite not really having the “How to Raise Boys” handbook. It makes you smile . Because you have done your job and done it well.
Trust me, you are going to rock this job. Just keep smiling and laughing. It all turns out great in the end.
Slightly Older Mom of Two Boys Who Are Now Men