The Relationship Between Mothers & Sons
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My friend was approached by some mothers after a Bible study session for advice on dealing with their sons. The mothers wanted to protect their sons from destructive behaviors. The sons were non responsive to their efforts. The mothers were distraught and desperate. My friend’s advice follows:
Mothers are hard-wired to protect their children. They especially want to protect their sons from the bad consequences of rash decisions and reckless behavior. Unfortunately, there are many 3rd party bad influences over which mothers have no control. So mothers worry. And sons cause heartache.
Mothers try all sorts of things to remedy the situation. They give good, sound, practical advice which is mostly ignored. Their pleas for their sons to care about their mothers, as their mothers care for them, fall on deaf ears. Their demands that their son obey the mother who gave them birth and nurtured them all their life is met with unappreciative indifference. Mothers’ threats are hollow and ineffective. What’s a mother to do?
Let go. Birds learn to fly when pushed from the nest. More relevant is the butterfly extracting itself from the cocoon. It’s painful to watch the butterfly struggle to emerge from the cocoon. The urge is to help the butterfly by pulling it away from the cocoon’s sharp edges, and end its painful struggle. Yet, that assistance damages the butterfly for the rest of its life. It’s the struggle that strengthens the butterfly to endure its life outside the cocoon. Those not strengthened by the struggle fall victim to natural predators. Sons, like butterflies, need to struggle as they emerge from home, as painful as it is to watch, to be a man.
The process to become a man has no set timetable. Some sons take more time than others. St. Monica prayed over 30 years for her son to end being a drunk & carouser and become the man – St. Augustine, a premier theologian of all time. Unfortunately, mothers have their own timetable when things should happen for their sons. That also causes worry and heartache for mothers. Again, mothers need to let go – of their expectations.
My friend learned the lesson of letting go of expectations years ago. He got out of the “Outcome” business, because there were too many uncontrollable, unforeseeable 3rd party influences on outcomes to control. He now only spends time in the “Effort” business, which he can control, and leave the outcomes to the Providence of God. The distinction is the difference between Psalms 22 & 23.
Psalm 22 laments, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 23 asserts, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall no want.” It’s the difference between relentless anxiety and comforting peace.
Belief – that your son was made in the image and likeness of God – helps. Trust – that God is sovereign over all things – helps. Hope – that God’s providence and grace are sufficient to protect and guide your son – helps. But most of all, God so loved your son, that he sent His Son, so that if your son believes in Him, he will not perish, but have eternal life. God’s concern for your son trumps all other concern and control.
For practical guidance from this day to that, I suggest that mothers give their sons the poem “If”, by Rudyard Kipling. My friend gave that poem to his sons upon their graduation from high school & college, and again on their wedding day. (He reads it every once and a while for his own benefit.) He also gave the mothers “Words to Live By”, a list of insightful, inspiring quotes from famous people.
(The compete list of “Words to Live By”can be found in the “Archive” section, on the right-side of the Home Page, in October 2019.)
Mothers should also consider giving their sons the book, “The Seven Seasons of the Man in the Mirror” by Patrick Morley, to help them understand the process of becoming a man.
Most of all, be still your hearts.