The Other Males in Your Home

Yesterday would have been my mom’s 84th birthday. She died at 70, but she still affects my life even now.

Mother and son arm wrestling  © Voyagerix |

If you have sons, you’ll be affecting them long after you are gone. It’s inevitable some of the effects will be bad; hopefully the majority will be positive.  A few thoughts:

  • Your son is male. He doesn’t think or feel as you do, which is as it should be. Be careful you don’t try to make him more female. If you don’t understand what it means to be male, you could easily be attacking his masculinity without meaning to do so.
  • Risk and adventure run through his blood. Sure, you need to keep him safe, but not too safe. You need a sane man to help you understand proper limits.
  • Apologise to him as often as necessary. Teaching him by example is the surest way to help him become the man he should become in this and every other area.
  • You are the first woman in his life, and you will set a precedent. His future wife will either thank you or secretly curse you.
  • He needs your respect. If he decides he can’t get it, you’ll both lose a great deal. Find ways to respect him even when you don’t understand or agree with him. His desire for your respect can be a powerful tool for modifying his behaviour as long you don’t push too far.
  • He’s happy to be your son, but he doesn’t want to be your little boy. This is another respect issue, and a place where you can easily push him away without intending to do so. (Please, don’t call him your baby after the age of two!)
  • He feels protective of you because it’s how God made him. Odds are he will feel this way long before he has any ability to protect you in a real way. Appreciate his desire to protect you even when it’s “cute”.
  • At puberty, he becomes sexual. He has no idea what that means, but he feels it. He wants you to accept this part of him, not deny it. If you’ve built a good relationship up to puberty, he wants to know what you think about sex. You have the chance to be the first female voice influencing his sexuality – take it.
  • He’s going to hurt your heart. Even if he’s a great guy and never intends to, he’s human and will do things that hurt you. If it should hurt, let him know. If he’s done nothing wrong and it hurts because of you, either keep it to yourself or let him know it hurts because of your stuff.
  • You probably won’t like his early girlfriends. I think most of us unintentionally seek out girlfriends who our mothers won’t like. Not necessarily to tweak mom, more to learn about other kinds of women. A sure way to push him to the wrong girl is to tell him she’s the wrong girl. 
  • His wife will be more important to him than you. If she’s not, the marriage is in big trouble. Assume this will be the case and rejoice when you see it. Be all about the woman he loves enough to marry, and be ready to go much more than half way to meet her.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I had junk left when my mom went home. Sigh.

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10 Comments on “The Other Males in Your Home

  1. This post resonates with me as we have our two-year old grandson residing with us at present, and there are many notable differences in his natural behavior compared to that of my daughters when they were his age.

    “Risk and adventure run through his blood.” I would think a mother could help her son understand how his behavior may affect his wife, if his need for risk and adventure is exercised by actions that jeopardize his safety and wellbeing (driving faster than the speed limit, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol, texting while driving, refusing to wear safety glasses/earplugs, etc.)

    Not only will she be unimpressed, she will find it difficult to respect him. These actions will cancel out other actions meant to communicate love and affection. The physical risks he takes may jeopardize her emotional safety. She may even feel unsafe when it comes to sexual intimacy, withdraw and check her heart at the bedroom door.

    A mature man will temper his need for risk and adventure, thereby increasing safety and security for his wife and children. Perhaps this is one of the ways a husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church, giving himself up for her.

    • Yes, she can and should help him think about his choices. The tricky part is doing this without going so far he just dismisses her and everything she says. This generally means living with a level of risk beyond her comfort level.
      I watched Lori do this with our son, and I know how difficult it was for her. I also know her doing it well allowed her to have a much greater calming influence than many mothers have. While he has plenty of “Oh mom” moments, he did not feel she was trying to castrate him. When a boy feels his mother is trying to make him less of a man he reacts by going even further into dangerous behaviour just to show her he is a real man. It can become a horrible self-perpetuating cycle.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…The Best Marriage and Life PossibleMy Profile

  2. Well written! As a mother of a few teenage boys (no girls!) I find that this is very accurate and true.

    Risk and adventure is a huge part to being male – I think this has been the hardest aspect of having men in my life to work with. All the men in my life are very adventurous, probably learned from my husband! I worry so much for their safety, but rather then limit them and what they want to do, I discuss my concerns, they talk me through it and at the very least acknowledge my concern, and then I turn it over to God. Thankfully no one has gotten seriously injured, mostly just small “holes” as they call it. An ER doctor, a mother of boys herself, told me to invest in superglue and assorted bandages, and boy was she right!

    @Intimacy Seeker – I would think it is less risk & adventure and more his attitude towards his wife on matters that would turn her off. Although not a perfect man, my husband said that the type of behavior you listed isn’t risk & adventure (beyond driving fast which is a “thrill” at times) and men don’t even think of it as such. Its more an “ego” issue, or lack of maturity. Even when its something I’m very concerned about, and have been able to express concern, and they go ahead (hubby included) and do it anyway, it doesn’t cause me to struggle with disrespect, sexual intimacy or to be withdrawn. And 9 times out of 10, even when they arrive home scraped and bruised and bleeding, the way they tell their “stories” make me glad that they went and a little sad that I wasn’t along for the journey – of course I wouldn’t find half of what they talked about humorous if I witnessed it first hand!

    When the boys were little, my husband did temper his need for risk & adventure to provide safety, as well as financial security, because that was what he watched other men around him do, but he was miserable because he has a higher drive then they do and turned to other vices which actually caused more damage to our marriage, because he locked part of himself up and felt like he was being strangled. It took him a while to find the balance to be able to do both, but its been the best thing ever. My job is simply to help my sons learn how women think, so they know how to discuss concerns and make wise decisions, without being swayed my female “emotions” or coercion and I let my husband teach them how to find the balance between taking responsibility for their family and still having adventure in their lives – because that is how God made them. I think at times we need to look past just how our husbands are loving us, and look at how we are respecting them (or not).

    • When we sublimate a strong drive is often comes out somewhere else, and usually the way it comes out is worse than what we have avoided. It’s like blocking the vent on a pressure cooker – it stops the steam for a while, but then it blows up!
      (Am I dating myself with “pressure cooker”?)
      Paul Byerly recently posted…The Best Marriage and Life PossibleMy Profile

  3. Thanks for sharing these insights. The antics of my two-year-old grandson exhaust and exasperate me and my daughter. We feel beat up by the end of the day, and sometimes have the bruises to prove it! :) So in addition to the super glue and bandages, I advocate ice and ibuprofen.

    Thanks, Henri, for pointing out that the behaviors I listed fall more in the “immature” category than in the “risk and adventure” category. My particular situation includes alcohol-related issues, a couple of close (nearly fatal) medical calls, and generally accident prone hubby, so any unnecessary risks raise my anxiety level. I even admitted to my husband that sometimes I fantasize about being a widow when I won’t have to always anticipate the next crisis. Sad, I know.

    For me, these events have made sexual intimacy difficult for me. I don’t feel safe being naked and vulnerable with someone who chooses to damage his brain cells, destroy his liver, and drive under the influence on a regular basis. I put so much effort into my part of our relationship, and the alcohol-related behaviors send a message that I’m not worth much to him.

    I have heard it said that if a woman doesn’t want to have sex two to three times a week, she should not marry. Perhaps the same is true for men: if they are unwilling to temper their need for risk and adventure, they should not marry nor have children. When we put ourselves at risk, we put our loved ones at risk.

    I realize there is a spectrum here and that I live at one extreme due to my history. There is enough tragedy in this world without inviting more. No one is invincible.

    • When our son was 2 I would come home each day, sit on the couch with Lori, hug her, and tell her it would get better. Often while she cried. It was hard on her, but it did get better. Two is just very tough age with boys!

      Your point on what we should do if we are going to marry is excellent! A good marriage requires both husband and wife to do some things they would not choose to do, and to not do or cut way back on some things they would like to do. Sadly neither society nor church teach this.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: My Stuff, Your Stuff, My Stuff, Your StuffMy Profile

  4. @Intimacy Seeker – I will say that I empathize with how you feel. I find that when my husband is not at the least listening and acknowledging my concerns, I tend to withdraw – more a self protection reflex more then anything. When the boys were really young, my husband was out almost every night partying, and I never knew when or if he would make it home. Half the time he never knew how he got home, or who parked his car in the driveway so “stupidly”! God has been gracious though and we have worked through a lot and are still working through alot.

    I highly recommend for you and your daughter Dobsons book Bringing Up Boys. It is especially helpful for those who have never had these “creatures” before. And I use that term tongue-in-cheek, because they are so different.

    I spent this weekend with family taking down trees and was so happy we came home unscathed, despite there being axes and chainsaws, only to spend my day in the ER with #2 son, who managed to break his thumb while mulching my garden! So sometimes we can think they are “safe” and accidents still happen : )

    • @Henri My heart goes out to you as you recall the early part of your marriage. Glad to know you have worked through much of that and that things are less frightening now.

      Thanks for the book recommendation; I will look into it. It would seem that girls generally avoid an activity that appears to be dangerous while boys generally participate BECAUSE it appears to be dangerous and coming away unscathed somehow means they triumphed over it and that speaks to their capability. What I find most intriguing is if that is meant to impress their woman, it may be the thing about him she is least impressed by. Go figure.

      Accidents do happen, sometimes when we least expect them. We can manage our reactivity by acknowledging our triggers and identifying our emotional reactions. And frankly speaking, by not putting all our eggs in one basket. It helps to have meaningful, fulfilling lives outside of our marriage, especially when our spouse insists on taking unnecessary risks.

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