SNIPS & SNAILS
I was 120% sure we were having a girl with our sixth pregnancy. Her name was going to be, Olivia Grace. You can imagine my surprise when the Dr. confirmed through multiple ultrasounds that we were infact having another boy (our fifth!). While I was surprised, I wasn't upset. I love boys! When I felt encouraged in my heart to get pregnant at the begining of this year, it only took a couple of weeks until I found out I was expecting. We have waited for four years since our last baby, and in this decision to wait when we found out we were pregnant and it wasn't our little "Olivia", we decided to name our newest addition "Theodore" which means "God's divine gift". Since I was fully expecting a girl, this baby boy is definitely a GIFT!
BOY # 1 "THE SAFE ONE"
One of our boys is extremely "safe", always making sure that no one gets hurt (including himself). He is not at all timid in how he relates to people, and being brave in asking for things - but when it comes to climbing, jumping, running, etc. He chooses to enforce boundaries and remain on the whole unscathed. It has been very nice to never have to question his judgement... most accurately I would define him as having a "JUDGE personality". Promoting and dispensing fair and equal judgement and safety for others.
BOY # 2 "THE RISK TAKER"
On the contrary, our second son is a risk taker. If he could live life upside down he would! Always dangling from trees or running a mile a minute, this son proves to the world that there IS a world out there. There is more to living than four walls, and if you aren't living on the edge... you are taking up TOO much room! Personally, he makes me laugh because he always questions gravity. Not just 'gravity' as in terms of the laws of physics, but 'gravity' in terms of the weights of the world. If any human being could figure out how to "fly" he would. With his desire to throw the weight of this world off, I would define him as having a "CHALLENGERS personality", not a CHALLENGING personality - but a CHALLENGERS personality. One who challenges man's laws and with his love for the Lord, brings attention to others HOW freeing living for God really is.
BOY # 3 "THE ADVENTURER"
Boy no.3 has always been an adventurer. Like Indiana Jones he resolves to "go where no man has gone before". While he doesn't challenge the norm, he loves to explore it and prove to others that size and age doesn't matter. If any of our children was like King Josiah (who was made King at 8 years old), it would be him. He intimidates others to do things for him at six years old, not through fear but through conviction! His personality is definitely a "LEADERS personality" and will lead a horse to water every time he gets the chance. Whether that horse is ready to drink or not, frankly isn't his concern!
BOY # 4 "THE THINKER"
The youngest boy of ours is a thinker. He is constantly putting together puzzles of all types. Thomas the train, wooden puzzles, thought puzzles... this boy loves to solve and to think. He has a "THOUGHTFUL personality" and has always wanted hugs, kisses, and to give you comfort when you are down. While this can come off as perhaps more "intelligent" that other types of personalities - thoughtfulness really has nothing to do with 'intelligence' but EVERYTHING to do with awareness. What this young man does is WATCH and LISTEN and in so doing, he appears and reflects a maturity and wisdom that is rare. The lesson with this child is that we can all be more "intelligent" if we just WATCH and LISTEN more.
Some of my SMARTEST MOVES ... AND ... NOT SO SMART MOVES IN RAISING THESE BOYS:
SMART WAYS OF DEALING WITH A "SAFE" BOY
- Allow your safety expert to assume responsibilities starting at a young age. Give them dishes to do, laundry to wash, cars to vacuum. Even if they do not so good a job - this doesn't matter. They NEED the self confidence that they can be trusted in their own judgement of HOW to do something.
NOT SO SMART
- Standing over their shoulder and "micro-managing" HOW they are completing a task then pointing out their failures. No one likes a nag. When you have an overly safe child, you have a "detailed" child. As they get older and their dexterity improves they will resolve their own mistakes. If your 'safety' child has forgotten a toy under the bed when cleaning, go clean it when they aren't looking. Don't be hard on them for missing something at the time of clean up, next time remember to be more detailed in your clean up instructions BEFORE the process begins.
SMART WAYS OF DEALING WITH A "RISKY" BOY
- Giving a risky/challenger boy an opportunity to bend and brake rules is HARD. While no single child should be able to break a parents rules (while the others have to abide by them), sometimes we have rules that need to be questioned. Perhaps for years your own parents showed you a certain way to clean up a mess, if you have a challenger son like I do, that son will say to you "WHY do we clean this way, why not this other way instead?" Then from out of nowhere, your item is cleaner than ever before! Allowing your challenger/risk taker to have his own voice is key in the raising of this personality. But so is having VERY DEFINED rules. We always do our best to stick to God's laws in the Bible (primarily the 10 commandments and to love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul) the risk takers in the family MUST have clearly defined non-crossable boundaries like "thou shalt not steal". However, when these "Golden Rules" are obeyed, this child should be free to challenge the status quo!
NOT SO SMART
- "Baby proofing" the world. A challenger/risk taker will need a mom or dad who won't run up and see if they are "okay" every five minutes. Our risk taker is a Junior Olympic springboard diver and every time I see him do an inward dive it seems like my heart skips a beat! Holding my tongue and trusting his coach is MY NUMBER ONE JOB. Just as I trust his coach however, I have had to learn to TRUST GOD more. Recognizing that it is GOD who put the "riskiness" in him is paramount to his success, and for me to be able to just relax and enjoy his accomplishments is really very cool. When executed correctly, it can be like watching a race car hug the track at full tilt... it can be like they are flying and it is God doing the driving!
SMART WAYS OF DEALING WITH AN "ADVENTEROUS" BOY
- Boys which seem to be more concerned with getting somewhere than HOW to get somewhere can be challenging, leaving many parents to think... what are you crazy? This type of personality will look across the street to their destination and step right out into traffic. NO these boys aren't "crazy" they are BIG picture thinkers and it is our job to assist them in crossing the road! Calling a child "dumb, crazy, or stupid" for seeing a BIG picture instead of recognizing their sense of adventure is a BIG NO NO. Your child is BRILLIANT, made in the image of God as a child of God and is completely UNIQUE. While they are young and lack wisdom... this is where we as parents come in. We say "WAIT" and then take their hand and help them get to where they are going. Having an adventurous boy is a GREAT thing. When trained properly, you will find that their ability to be bold and resourceful is a great attribute to the world. Where would we be without Christopher Columbus or Neil Armstrong?
NOT SO SMART
- Education by FORCE. The other day I was attempting to teach my little explorer some history. He wasn't getting it. Unfortunately I tried to teach him like I would teach one of our other boys and he ended up crying and saying, "I just want it to be OVER mom." Oh, it nearly broke my heart! Here I have this totally free spirited boy and I was "breaking" him by way of influencing him to try and learn in a way that he couldn't grasp. This type of boy needs to be given the tools of the trade and then let go to learn at his own pace. Needless to say, I folded up the history lesson and said "Let's go play". Enough was enough. An adventurer will need to be watered and grown, possibly more than any of your other children. Giving them proper attention and addressing their disappointments quickly is very important!
SMART WAYS OF DEALING WITH A "THOUGHTFUL" BOY
- Thoughtful boys are pretty easy boys to be around... however I have found that boy can they hold a grudge! WOW! It is odd to me to see how one so young can hold on to an offense and not let it go for days even! Recognizing that thoughtful people tend to stay within themselves more than those that can just "let by-gones be by-gones" is absolutely necessary. The best way for me to handle our little thinker is to notice when he is down and immediately talk with him about what is going on. Taking the time to draw him out of himself must be done right away. We may be at the grocery store, at a friends house, on a road trip... wherever we are we must address the offense with our thinker right away, and ask them to forgive or move on. This instant attention to emotional detail establishes a routine of making attitude adjustments personally. Saying to your thinking child "just get over it" is failing them, they CAN'T. The thinker MUST process what is going on and reason exactly WHY it is ok to "just get over it".
NOT SO SMART
- Ignoring a thinker and treating him and his sensitivity the same way as you would treat your daughter is a mistake. The thinking boy is much more sensitive than a risky boy, and in so he will be WAY more tender. Learning how to balance a natural tenderness with his all boy-ness is the smartest thing you as a parent can do. Remember the BEST men in society today are proven by the way that they treat trivial matters. For instance a man who can hold a butterfly on his finger, can run a nation with temperance. Force and tyranny does not make a man anymore than the color pink and fancy perfume makes a woman. Training a sensitive boy to walk tall and be proud of his ability to read people and read situations through his thoughtfulness, gives him the heart of a REAL man. Understanding that Jesus hugged, wept, mourned, rejoiced, and cared for His disciples is just as much a recognition that He bore torture to the point of death through His THOUGHTFUL bravery. Sensitive and thoughtful boys can be molded into the image of Christ as long as CHRIST is the central focus and each and everyday is filled with love and not abuse of personal character.
Boys and girls are gifts from God and as parents we are their gifts to them. As we in America are coming into an election season, we all must remember that it is us, in our OWN HOMES that are making America what it is today. How we raise our children, praise our God and motivate ourselves... it is all up to us as individuals. We have the ability to change our circumstances and our country from the inside out, and as you go about your day today I pray that you will be able to hold your head up high and know that your children are the FUTURES of this world and with great parenting, our future looks BRIGHT!!
Jessica Heilman is the Founder of Wholehearted Ministries and is also mom to The Cookie Boys. Jessica has been a student of Psychology, Philosophy and Theology for nearly 25 years. Jessica founded WHM in 2008 while in Bible College. Jessica and her husband Jeff have been married 21 years. Jeff and Jessica live in the Silicon Valley with their seven children and their dog Kennedy.This post originally posted with Wholehearted Ministries on 10/2/12