All Boy Life welcomes our newest contributor, Kelly Strohm. Kelly is a mother to 3 boys and, counting her husband and the dog, she is outnumbered 5 to 1! Kelly is daughter-in-law to Mark Strohm and Sister-in-law to Julie Taylor.
Things I want my sons to “be”…
I’m the mommy of 3 wonderful little boys. One is 6, 4, and 3 months old. As I sit and rock my baby and watch my older boys run around the back yard, I can’t help but think about the kinds of things I want them to “be” when they grow up. My oldest says he wants to be an engineer or an architect (and he’s got the LEGO skills to back up that plan for sure)! My 4 year old wants to be a police officer (lord help his momma…one more thing to worry about)! And the 3-month-old just wants to BE held. And I am ok with that! But besides career aspirations, there are so many other things I’m trying to teach my boys to be. My goal is to devote quality time teaching my boys to become the men that God wants them to be. And I pray daily that the Lord will use me to help mold and shape them the way He sees fit. What I’m learning is that God so often uses these lessons to mold and shape me as well! So here some of the things I pray my boys will be:
If there is one very important concept to teach our kids, it’s that actions and words have consequences. We should always consider how what we do and say makes others feel. Now I know most boys don’t ride the “feelings train” like girls do, so it can be easy to let them get away with more thinking that things don’t bother them…But boys do have feelings. Lots of them! When my 6-year-old takes something from his 4-year-old brother (say the iPad game he was playing) and the little brother naturally is upset, I try to ask my oldest how he thinks his brother is feeling right now. Does he think that’s fair? Would he like it things were the other way around? By asking these kinds of questions we can reinforce the golden rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Matthew 7:12.” So far I have yet to have my oldest tell me that it was fair. He is quick to think about it and admit that he wouldn’t like it if it were done to him, and we can then move onto finding a solution. What if little bro gets 10 minutes and then you get 10 minutes? Teaching a boy to be thoughtful and aware of how he’s treating others will shape him into such a great husband, right ladies?! Along side of being thoughtful, I also want to teach them to be respectful. A little respect really does go a long way! It also builds humbleness and character to show respect to others and even more so to show respect to God. I pray daily that I can model respectful behavior for them.
I have a son who is so incredibly gentle and sweet–definitely amazing qualities to have–but at times, he allows himself to get pushed around because of it. Some days it’s his little brother doing the pushing and other times it’s his friends. I’ve often used a saying that my dad used to tell me when I was a little girl, and that’s “don’t mistake my meekness for weakness.” Wow. What a difference in those two things. Weakness means allowing fear or failure to take over and being unable to do anything about the situation. Meekness, on the other hand, requires having a level head and a position of gentleness and humbleness. What a powerful weapon! I encourage him to follow his instincts which are mostly meek by nature, but at what point does his meekness put him in danger of getting physically pushed around? That’s when the practical approach kicks in for us. So, my approach with this gentle and, at times, passive boy of mine when it comes to others using physical force against him, whether playing too rough or being mean, is to stand up for himself. It’s ok to defend yourself! He’s learning to first ask or tell the person to stop (and definitely say it like he means it when necessary). Next, he is to walk away and tell a grown up. But sometimes kids are tough and want to continue chasing and pushing without relent, and in those extreme circumstances, it’s ok to defend yourself! It’s ok to stand up for yourself by using force! Often children, boys especially, are punished for standing up for themselves. Call me crazy, but I’d like to teach my son to defend himself when necessary. It’s a life skill he’ll need as a man to protect himself and his family. I would never condone starting a fight, and my guys know that if they go picking a fight, they’ll have mom and dad to deal with, but teaching a boy to stand on his own two feet is a very valuable skill to learn.
Oh, positivity. It’s something I sometimes struggle with myself. Is that glass half full or half empty? Empty. The glass is half empty…probably because one of my kids drank my drink. Being positive is something I’m learning along WITH my kids. I was never aware of how negativity could impact a life until I met my husband. He was one of the most positive and happy guys I had ever met and really didn’t let a lot of things get to him. How’d he do that? How was he not brought down by all the things to do and the dreariness of certain situations? I was a ball of nerves! His secret weapon: positivity. He chose to not focus on the bad. He chose to think of the good and focus on that instead. Watching how he deals with life has made me want to become a more positive person, and now, as a mother to little ones, I’m so thankful for that awakening! By being positive we can encourage our kids better! We can empower them better! We have the ability to help them conquer fears and failures with our positive parenting! We can’t dwell on the bad and the uncertainties. We can’t pick apart the things they’re doing wrong. What if we focused on all the things they do right instead and lovingly guide them in the direction of improving the areas they struggle with? Everyone will come out feeling like a winner! For me, one of those areas is my son doing his schoolwork. I homeschool my 6-year-old, and some days it is just. so. hard. Talk about a test of patience and faith! It’s very easy to focus on the hard parts and let them get the best of me. But by doing that, I’m miserable and so is he. Instead, I will lovingly place consequences in order and stick to them. I will see how hard he’s worked and how much he’s learning. I will know that the Lord will bless me for my diligence. And I will press on with faith and positivity in my heart, remembering that I set the tone in this house. My words have power and so do my kids’ words. This lesson is an ongoing lesson we are learning together!
“Kill ’em with kindness” the old saying goes. In a world full of such hatred and division, what a powerful value to pass onto our kids. It doesn’t cost anything at all to be kind. It doesn’t make you less of a man to be kind. It doesn’t mean you “lose” the argument by being kind. It means you value how others feel. It means you care. The best way we can model this lesson to our kiddos is by example. I’m southern and half Hispanic, so having a strong opinion isn’t a foreign concept to me, however learning when my opinion or words lift others up or tear them down is always a work in progress. Not too long ago as I was driving my mommy-mobile (aka minivan), someone cut me off at the last minute forcing me to pull a Dale Earnhardt jr and get out of the way. All at once I started yelling about what an idiot and a jerk this guy was. Well, it didn’t take long for my four-year-old to start using the words “idiot” and “jerk” when he saw something he didn’t like about someone. That was my fault. I didn’t exactly model kindness to him that day, and now I know to be more mindful next time of the behavior I model. It’s our job as parents to set the kindness bar high! If we want more kind and caring people in the world, it starts at home. I can’t think of a better example of kindness than that of Jesus Christ. He was mocked and made fun of, but he still handled himself with dignity and class and under no circumstance did he resort to frustrated name-calling. What a class act that guy is!
So here I am, still rocking that sweet baby and thanking God for entrusting these precious little boys to me. I am not a perfect person, and my kids know this first hand. I am so incredibly thankful that the Lord chose me to be their mommy, and he gives us all grace daily. I will continue to pray that these boys of mine will be shaped into the men that God desires them to be, and I will be a useful tool in His hand.