Renee Davis is not just raising her son to be a fine human being, she is making sure he will be a good husband. Here are the indications she is on the right track.
Just so there are no misconceptions, this is not about MY husband, who is already grown up.
Today I’m writing about my 11-year-old son.
I’m really proud of the young man he’s becoming. Though I have mixed emotions when it comes to his independence, I’m (sort of) happy to say that he can do quite a few things without me.
And the more I try to encourage that independence, because I know it’s the right thing to do, the more I’m conflicted.
Yes, it’s cool that he can go into the pizza shop, order our favorite, and be sure to receive the right amount of change. Do I watch him like a hawk through the thick glass window? You bet.
Am I overjoyed that I don’t have to do it myself? Of course.
Do I worry that I’m going to get a case of the ugly cries and not be able to drive home from said pizza shop, simply because he’s growing up and doesn’t need me as much anymore?
You’d better believe it!
Despite my inner struggle, he just has to become independent in everyday life skills sooner or later—whether I like it or not! With the hustle and bustle of today’s life, we can overlook this sometimes. And sometimes many times it’s just easier for us moms to do everything ourselves—it certainly is faster!
But to do it all myself, to do everything for him, would be a disservice to my kid (and society).
THE GOLDEN WHAT?
I’m a little embarrassed to say that there was a time when everyone in the house was buzzing around, whizzing by doing chores while this kid was watching t.v., playing a videogame, or making messes faster than we could clean them up—all without a care in the world.
He was totally oblivious to the rest of the people in the universe.
By human nature, and most certainly due to an underdeveloped brain, this was completely “normal” for any kid.
But my biggest pet peeve in life—the thing that really gets me in a hot lather and causes me to have to pray hard and dig deep—is when someone acts like they’re the only person on the planet and the rules don’t apply!
More than anything, I want my son to acknowledge others and their feelings. I want him to be sympathetic and empathetic, kind and helpful. I want my son to be able to look beyond himself, to see a need, and find a way to fill it.
I want him to know that the rules apply to him and that rules are actually not “made to be broken.”
Since then, we’ve taken great strides to help him become more aware of the people around him.
THE NEW ROLE
I’m not sure if I’ve had a demotion or a promotion. Some days are filled with trepidation at the thought of receiving my pink slip. No matter how I look at it, my job has changed.
Long gone are the days when I had to do everything for him.
Now, it’s my job to equip him.
So even though I’d love for him to just be a carefree tween while the rest of us “old folks” do the heavy lifting, I don’t want him to grow up to be a moocher, have a sense of entitlement, or have to pay someone to change a lightbulb!
I’m trying to not give him too much freedom and independence while allowing him to learn new skills and feel helpful and useful.
This is where balance comes in. And I’m trying to find the balance on a daily basis. (It’ll never be balanced in my heart, I fear.)
THE MOMENT OF REFLECTION
A couple of weeks ago my son and I were talking about what makes a good dad a good dad and a good husband a good husband. He’s hurt by all of the divorce he sees his tween friends going through. I think it makes him worry too, not only for them but for himself. How could it not?
We had a long talk about the things that my husband does that we appreciate and what my son admires about his dad.
That night as I crawled into bed and closed my eyes, I wondered how well I’m readying my child to become not only a productive citizen but a loving mate for his future wife.
I know what you’re thinking: Gee, the kid’s barely eleven! What’s the rush?
There’s definitely no rush!
Maybe it’s just my proactive personality, but I don’t want to wait until he’s about to leave my nest to give him a crash course in how to take care of himself and how to treat women.
THE MODEL MAN
Honestly, there are days when I feel I’ve failed.
I make the mistake of comparing myself to other moms. I make the mistake of comparing their kid to mine.
I feel guilty that I’ve messed things up or that I’m not doing enough, especially those hectic days when we eat fried chicken from a gas station and when my house looks so scary that visitors should don hazmat suits.
I have so many doubts and worries:
Is he too thin?
Is he experiencing too much anxiety at school?
Is he making good enough grades?
Does he use his manners when I’m not around?
How will he handle life’s struggles?
Am I doing everything I can to ensure his future success…
But in this world of uncertainty and age of supermoms who seem to have it all together, I have some peace of mind in knowing I’m actually doing something right!
And, really, it’s not all me. What makes the biggest impact is in my child’s life is seeing his dad flesh it out each day, modeling the behaviors we expect to see both now and in the future. Call me Pollyanna, but I’m convinced that many marriages could be saved simply by treating each other with respect and kindness.
So without further ado, I present to you the nine clues that tell me we’re raising a future self-sufficient adult and good husband-to-be:
1. He’s Loving: He stops and kisses my arm for no particular reason. And he says, “I love you,” without me having to say it first.
2. He’s Courteous: When it’s bathtime, he offers the shower to me first. And he says “please” and “thank you.”
3. He’s Easy: When given a choice of what he’d like to have for dinner, he replies, “Whichever is easiest for you, Mom.” (Yes, this one makes my heart smile every time. Every. Single. Time.)
4. He’s Wise: He asks me to pray for him when he’s struggling. (And I know he prays for me.)
5. He’s Helpful: He brings in the groceries, folds the towels, takes out the trash, vacuums the den, and push-mows the lawn—without complaining!
6. He’s Chivalrous: He holds the door for me. He locks all of the doors when just the two of us are home. When I drop something, he picks it up before I have the chance.
7. He’s Compassionate: When he sees that I’m tired or stressed, he tells me I need to take a break, to come sit by him and relax. And he usually gives me a big hug.
8. He’s Concerned: When he hears a loud noise, he yells from wherever he is to ask if I’m okay. When he sees me struggling, he asks if there’s anything he can do to help. [insert melted heart here]
9. He’s Human: He can be self-centered at times like a normal kid and most humans. He forgets that his actions can have negative effects and that his mood can influence those around him. He’s loquacious at all the wrong times! He’s really messy and takes way too long to eat his dinner… In short, he makes mistakes just like the rest of us.
But he apologizes and asks for forgiveness.
Our kid is on the right track to becoming a kind and productive adult. One day, he’ll hopefully become an upstanding husband who will model respectful and loving behavior to his own wife and family, just as his father does.
I’m really in no hurry for him to do that…
Not. Even. Close.
Photo: Flickr/Emilie Rhaupp