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by Mark Driscoll
10 Ways for Moms to Respect Their Sons
It is never too early to start showing that you respect your sons. I know as a young mom I was so concerned about discipline—when, where, why and how to discipline. I wanted this bundle of boy contained into a well-behaved, manageable package. Is that offense punishable by swat? Is he disrespecting me? Why is he so loud and messy? While those are fine questions to ask, looking back, I would rather have spent more time asking myself if I was treating my boys with respect.
My sons thrive in our relationship when respect is generously given. If I want them to look for a wife who respects them one day, I better demonstrate what that looks like now.
What Is Respect?
Let me first say respect is not making my son an idol and bowing down to his every need. Respect is defined as a deep admiration for someone elicited by his or her abilities, qualities, or achievements. A mother’s respect is also not based upon her son’s achievements at the beginning (unless you count squirting her in the eye with confounding accuracy at diaper changing time).
If our boys are continually being shielded from natural consequences, they will have a distorted sense of self and sin.
A mother’s respect for her son is founded upon his image bearing of her heavenly Father and belief that God has given her a powerful gift to steward for a season. A mother’s respect is born out of respect for Jesus and the cross: his life makes my life and my son’s life possible. A mother’s respect is based upon her trust in God to develop a godly man, husband, father, and leader out of the tiny one that she holds but for a brief moment.
What Respect Looks Like
I wanted to offer some practical principles to help show what it looks like for a mom to respect her son.
1. Set Jesus as the Standard
There is no man other than Jesus who demonstrates perfection. You will never go wrong in upholding him as the source, pointing to him as the example, and depending upon him for the answers.
2. Pray for Them and Over Them
You aren’t in control of their lives, you never will be. What better time than now to put yourself in submission to God’s plan for your sons by releasing them in prayer? Mothers have an awesome responsibility to pray for the intimate details that she knows about her son’s heart.
3. Watch Your Tone
Respect is often given and destroyed in the little things. I know the look in my son’s eye when I speak to him with a harsh or shaming tone—it is the pain of disrespect. Speak graciously, kindly, and firmly to your sons.
4. Let Them Make Decisions
Start small with choices like red or blue shirt, and move to increasing responsibility over time management and bigger life choices. Give them opportunities to lead in your home: chores, devotions, and family nights can be planned and executed by sons growing in maturity.
5. Serve Them
Love them with food, fun, folding of laundry. Let them see that you are willing to sacrificially serve them. Teach them to be grateful and one day they may actually thank you.
6. Teach Them to Serve You
Respectable men serve others. Servanthood does not come naturally to most of us. As you cheerfully serve your son, make sure you instruct and involve them in active service also. There will come a time when it is no longer sacrificial but sinful for you to be folding your boy’s undies.
7. No Secrets
Hidden sin is an insidious trap for men. Cultivate a climate of open confession and generous forgiveness. It is much more powerful for your son to feel like he can freely confess sin than have to hide in fear of your reaction.
8. Name Sin Biblically
Do not fall into “Boys will be boys” thinking. Differentiate between childish foolishness and downright rebellion. Instruct the former and correct the latter. Name their sin with accurate descriptions from Scripture so they can repent.
9. Name Character Biblically
Read to them and have them study passages of Scripture that speak to men (1 Cor. 16:13-14). Have them memorize passages of Scripture that describes their identity and riches available to them in Christ (Ephesians 1) so they can rejoice.
10. Let Consequences Fall on Their Heads
Respectable men recognize the painful effects of sin. If our boys are continually being shielded from natural consequences, they will have a distorted sense of self and sin. Let them feel the pain of their sin coupled with the restorative effects of grace.
Mothers, respect your sons. Give them this gift early on and by God’s grace, they will grow in respectability and become the godly men we recognized in them from the start.