Q: What advice would you give to a mother raising boys?
A: As a mother who has raised three sons into adulthood, I’ve learned a lot about child-raising — especially about boys — from my experience and the wisdom and guidance I received from the Lord. I adore my sons. All I wanted to do was to raise them right, but above all, I wanted our boys to learn to honor us.
The Bible says if children honor their mother and father, they will have a good, long life (see Exodus 20:12). This is what encouraged me to appropriately discipline my boys — because I wanted them to honor authority. I knew if they grew up honoring authority, according to the Bible, they would have good, long lives. I was also confident in disciplining without anger. I rarely got angry when disciplining my boys because I knew they were only little children who just needed a bit of gentle correction and instruction to get back on track.
Another thing about raising boys is to simply enjoy them! Children are amazing! Don’t get angry if they track mud through the house or present you with a creature they found while playing outside. By nature, children are curious, so let them enjoy their discovery of rocks, twigs, snakes, and lizards and embrace their precious curiosity! We’ve had creatures, plants, and rocks of all sorts in our home because we wanted our children to enjoy nature and embrace their curiosity. And we embraced it too!
The most important thing to instill in your sons, and in any child, is to show respect to their father. Whether you realize it or not, your own actions are building an image of their father in their minds. If you and your spouse disagree, you should discuss it privately and not in front of your children. They are looking to you as an example of how to behave and interact — whether you respect or disrespect your husband will determine the amount of respect in your children’s relationship with their father.
I want to tell you about a time in my life when my choices toward Rick affected the way my sons viewed him and his involvement in the ministry. At the beginning of our ministry, we had our oldest son, Paul, Philip was just a baby, and Joel wasn’t born yet. The four of us traveled in a car together as a family, and I was ministering with Rick — it was such a joyful time! I didn’t care how small the car was because we were together, and that was what was important to me. But eventually, as our ministry grew, Rick suggested it was time for me to stay home with the children. Joel was about two years old at the time, so I stayed home to take care of him, Philip, and Paul.
Now that I was a stay-at-home mome, it seemed that all I did was drive Rick to and from the airport! And because of how our ministry was growing, he would sometimes be gone for a week or more at a time. He would leave, return home for a few days, and leave again. After a while of this, I began developing an attitude, and I’d think to myself, I didn’t marry you to be apart from you! I secretly became angry on the inside without being able to discern exactly why I got so angry. I’d be angry when Rick got home and when it was time for him to leave, I’d get angry all over again.
If there was enough time between Rick leaving and coming home, my heart would settle, but as soon as I knew he was coming, I’d get angry yet again. I couldn’t figure out what was going on inside of me. All I knew was that I didn’t like being separate from Rick or being left alone — I wanted to be with him.
One day I was seeking the Lord, and He directed me to Isaiah 54:2, which says, “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.” When I saw this verse, the Holy Spirit kindly but firmly opened my eyes to two sets of attitudes I could choose to embody as a wife and mother. He said, Here is one set: anger, resentment, rejection, and depression; and here is another set: joy, peace, patience, and pride for your husband. You have to choose! So to the best of my ability — and I didn’t do it perfectly — I chose to embody that second set of attitudes. I stopped crying and getting angry and started having pride for my husband and his work in the ministry.
Little did I know, this decision to stop giving place to anger and to start showing reverence and having pride and respect for my husband had a profound impact on my boys. Many years later, my son Paul paid me such a precious compliment during an interview. The interviewer said, “Your dad was gone a lot while you were young. Why is it that you don’t resent the ministry since the ministry is what took time with your father away?” Paul replied, “I have to say it was because of my mom.”
You see, in the privacy of my bedroom, I made that choice to change my attitude. But I had no idea how the impact of that choice would do something so amazing in my sons and affect their attitudes toward their father for the rest of their lives. That is why I placed so much importance on honoring my husband, and I urge you to do the same!
If you make choices that honor your husband and lift up his image in the eyes of your sons and daughters, you’re doing your children a tremendous service — a service that will stick with them through their childhoods, and instill the priceless attribute of respect and honor that, according to Exodus 20:12, will bring and them long and happy lives.