I knock on his door and find him at his desk folding paper. He’s an origami master, turning a square piece of yellow paper into a swan who dips her neck at his will. His desk resembles a paper zoo.
I crawl up on his platform bed and get comfortable.
“Mom, you’re not going to try and get me to talk about my feelings are you?” He knows me well.
I swallow a smile and a bit of mom guilt and I tell him I worry.
He gives me a sheepish grin because he is his mother’s son.
“I know,” he says.
We talk about our fears, taking turns. After awhile, I know he’s glad I’m curled on his bed.
I watch this nearly 11 year old boy who is changing before my eyes. We skipped Super Bowl commercials because he has started to notice things now. We limit video games, we filter computer time, we try to monitor every image he puts in his mind.
We hold at bay the very world that seeks to sling mud on that white canvas. From magazine covers at the grocery store to too short skirts at church, it’s a minefield for a young mind in our highly sexualized culture.
Thankfully, he’s mostly unaware of what lurks behind a click or cover, but I wonder how long we can protect him from this raging enemy. Pornography used to be a taboo word, but it’s snuck its way into mainstream living and not only do countless people struggle with its entrapment, many people in our culture consider it a normal, experimental right of passage or something used to rev up a marriage.
My son has a Daddy who struggled in this area as a teen and later as a man, and I’m thankful he’s vigilent and not afraid to talk about hard things with his boy. Last week, my husband dug out Passport2Purity and I saw the book tucked under his arm on his way out the door. I see a weekend campout in their future.
But what’s a boy mom to do?
I know how to talk to my daughters about purity and their hunger for screen time (TV, computers, video games) is mild. In the last few years, I’ve educated myself on how men think, but getting into my little boy’s mind is a lot harder. I asked a friend of mine with four boys what she did about all this: “I make sure they take quick showers.” That’s not enough for me.
Here are 10 things I’m doing as a mother to a boy to fight against the triple threat of porn, aggressive girls, and ultimately premarital sex:
- I’m reading. A lot. Currently open next to my bed: Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy: Guiding Your Son from His Tweens to His Teens, I’ll share more books on my shelf this week.
- I’m trying to connect with him. I want to know his friends, his concerns, his dreams, his first crush (gross, mom). And I’m learning that it’s not all in the asking. It’s mostly in the listening.
- I’m turning off the screens and pushing books. Did you know that today on average, boys spend 35 hours a week in front of a screen? We have always limited screen time, but I’m militant about monitoring this part of our lives. And before he turns on a screen, he knows I’m going to ask what he’s read for the day. He just finished The Hobbit!
- I’m sending him outside to play during idle time. Boys need this! Lately, we’ve told him he can earn screen time after he’s been outside for awhile–playing basketball, jumping on the trampoline, shooting his bow.
- I’m building his confidence through physical activity. My son loves sports but doesn’t feel good at anything. Sports are competitive and often leave our boys feeling discouraged instead of built up. We are helping him pursue individual sports activities that build confidence (example: golf, swimming, archery)
- I’m educating him. I used to try and keep all the “bad stuff” away. When he asks why he can’t see a certain movie or play a violent game, I tell him. I’d rather be the one to explain our why’s then let him guess.
- I’m not pushing the girl thing. It’s not cute or funny for a young boy to be encouraged to have a girlfriend. I want my son to know we live in a cultural with aggressive girls who will make it challenging to be pure and we want him to resist this pressure until he’s older.
- I am pushing guy friends, especially from church. I love that my church has a tween “youth group.” They meet weekly for Bible study and have monthly hangouts. This has really been a huge help for my son to connect with other boys like him.
- I’m not giving him his own phone and when I do, it will be heavily monitored. I am also not going to put a TV or gaming system in his bedroom. (Even though 2/3 of kids do!) Did you know 39% of all teens have engaged in sexting (either sending a nude/partially nude photo of themselves or a sexually suggestive text)?
- I’m being realistic. He’s a boy. He will be tempted. He will fail in one or more of these areas. We are learning together. We are also on the same side, fighting an enemy, together. I want my home to be full of grace and I when he messes up, I want to be there. “
Life is about learning and we will make mistakes as we mother our sons. I love what Vicki Courtney says in her book, Your Boy: Raising a Godly Son in an Ungodly World and this is my goal:
“The key is to be engaged in our sons’ lives, stay in constant communication with God, who knows them best; establish appropriate boundaries; and pray a hedge of protection around their hearts.”
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.