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Your Boy: Raising a Godly Son in an Ungodly World

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It Was Easier When Girls Were Yuck!

By Vicki Courtney One afternoon while driving my younger son, Hayden (then in sixth grade), home from school, he caught me off guard with this question: “Mom, how old were you when you had your first kiss?” I hesitated to tell him, given the fact it had occurred at his same age.

His question brought the memory back in an instant. I was with a group of friends at the movies and sitting next to Bobby Mallow, the sixth-grade popular boy and, rumor had it, a kissing bandit. He had recently asked me to “go steady” and rewarded my yes with his clunky silver ID bracelet, which I proudly wore on my wrist. I was busy chatting with my friend who sat on the other side when the lights in the theater dimmed. I was focused on the previews when, all of the sudden, Bobby reached over and grabbed my hand.

Thanks to my fifth-grade steady, Dorwin, I was no novice to this hand-holding stuff. On the second day of school, Dorwin had passed me a note that read, “I like you. Will you go with me? Circle yes or no.” (You betcha, I still have the note!) He was a cute, scruffy boy who had proudly earned the title of “fastest boy in the grade.” Sounded like good credentials to me, so I circled yes and passed the note back. Not unlike the unspoken rules of today’s grammar school going-out romances, it officially meant that we would hardly say two words to each other from that moment forward. We would, however, hold hands under the lunch table, as agreed upon in one of the many notes we passed back and forth at the beginning of the year. The first time he grabbed my hand under that lunch table, I knew I was hooked. I think I had a perfect attendance record that year. In fact, I remember getting quite irritated at my mother for having the nerve to buy fold-over lunch baggies because they had been on sale. Didn’t she know how important it was for me to be able to single-handedly shake a sandwich out of its bag?! For one month I had to rip my sandwich baggies open with my teeth. So much for trying to impress Dorwin!

Fast-forward a year later to the movie theater. I had been going through hand-holding withdrawals since breaking up with Dorwin some months prior, so it was nice to know it could still elicit the same jumpstart to my heart. As the movie wore on, I noticed Bobby beginning to scoot closer and closer until finally the sides of our heads were almost touching. Just as I was beginning to wonder what his motives were in leaning in so close, he let go of my hand and quickly put his arm around me. That was a new feeling. And a good one, at that. But before I had time to analyze this move, he turned toward me and with his other hand reached over and gently touched the back of my head, making it near impossible to escape the kiss that followed (as if I wanted to, anyway!). What ensued next was a tingle-down-to-your-toes, can’t-catch-your-breath, movie star kiss. Fortunately, we both thought movie stars kissed with their mouths closed, so it stayed rather innocent.

When it was over, I was certain that my heart was beating loud enough for everyone in the theater to hear. I felt as if I was floating on air in some sort of half-awake, half-asleep state of mind. The kissing bandit had struck. That kiss minimized to a tiny spark the hand-holding jolt I had once felt. We broke up before there would be a second kiss, and I wouldn’t kiss a boy again for at least another year. It didn’t matter because I conveniently stored that kiss in my mind and would replay it from time to time.

As I was finishing that thought, I heard Hayden calling me back to reality. “Mom, mom, did you hear me? When was your first kiss?”

I snapped out of my trance-like journey to the past and replied to Hayden, “Why are you asking? You are far too young to worry about such silly things!”

Wow, that should sway him from taking my same path, I thought. I happened to know that he liked a girl who, rumor was, liked him in return. I also happened to know that they were both invited to a bonfire party that weekend. And with that thought, my mind raced back to a few bonfires I had attended ... and hayrides ... and school dances. Yikes! I had no choice but to head this off at the pass.

“Hayden, I know you probably didn’t know this, but kissing before marriage is outlawed in all fifty states. If you get caught, you could do serious jail time.”

Not buying it, he replied, “Ah, Mom. I just wanted to know how old you were—that’s all.”

Then it occurred to me what a blessing it was that he would even consider discussing the topic of a first kiss with me. And at that point I decided to take a risk. I told him the truth. “Hayden, do you really want to know how old I was when I had my first kiss?”

He nodded his head, and I proceeded to tell him. I told him how it made me feel, and I confessed that my heart would still race days and even weeks later at the mere thought of that kiss. As much as I didn’t want to tell him, I leveled with him and told him it was perfectly normal for a kid his age to be curious about kissing and maybe even want to kiss. More important, I told him that I was far too young for that kiss and the emotions that followed. I shared that the earlier you kiss, the more you dwell on the next kiss, and the next, and the next. I told him how, after awhile, it becomes less and less special and eventually you look for other ways to get that same thrill—things that should be saved for marriage. The lecture seemed to go over pretty well, and because I was honest about my own feelings at his age, he never really caught on that it was a lecture. Best of all, it opened the door for future conversations regarding girls.

If your son doesn’t come to you with his girl issues, let me assure you that you are in good company. Hayden is a rarity, and much of his openness is due to his temperament. As the years wear on, I expect him to initiate fewer conversations, and I realize the importance of taking advantage of his open curiosity. In fact, I don’t recall his older brother, Ryan, ever seeking my advice regarding girls. He gets my advice all the same, but I have to take advantage of teachable moments and initiate the conversations. Even so, sometimes he heeds my advice, and other times he insists on learning some things on his own. If he absorbs one-tenth of what I tell him, it is better than nothing.

I am a firm believer that mothers owe it to their sons not only to model the beautiful qualities of womanhood but also to help them recognize these same qualities (or lack thereof) in other women. Then, when it comes time for their sons to choose brides, they will have had positive examples and much-needed counsel to aid them in their decisions. I also hope to have encouraged my sons along the way to become the kind of young men that all parents with daughters dream of having for future sons-in-law.

I am amazed at the number of Christian mothers who obsess over praying for their son’s future wife but fail to recognize the duty they have in helping their sons develop healthy relationship patterns in the years leading up to marriage. It would be similar to praying diligently that your child will win a gold medal at the Olympics someday but failing to recognize the importance of consistent training in order to accomplish that goal. A gold medal is not likely if they have been left to figure things out on their own.

With a divorce rate of nearly 50 percent, it’s safe to say that few are getting the training needed on the front end to successfully navigate a marriage relationship. While children who have had parents who helped them develop healthy relationships are not exempt from the pain of failed marriages, they will be less likely to bail when the going gets tough.

As mothers, we must leave our sons with the tools needed to understand the differences between guys and girls, make wise choices when it comes to the kinds of girls they date, behave nobly in dating relationships, and recognize positive qualities in their future mates. Here are some ground rules that must be in place. If practiced, it will create the kind of environment that lends itself to positive communication with our sons when it comes to matters of the heart. I call it the “never-ever list.”

Never ever . . .

  • Share anything he tells you with another mom or sibling.
  • Tease him about liking a certain girl. You hated it when your parents did it, and he does, too.
  • Push him to tell you more than he is comfortable sharing.
  • Badger him to like a certain girl. It usually backfires anyway!
  • Say/do things he would not want you to say/do in front of girls (this goes for pulling out the cute naked baby pictures or telling embarrassing stories!).
  • Minimize the pain of a breakup. (Example: “It’s probably for the best so you can focus on your studies more.” “You have more important matters to worry about.”) Such statements may be true, but ask yourself if what you are about to say to him would have offered you comfort at his same age after a painful breakup.
  • Cease praying for your son.

From cooties to crushes and beyond, a mom can be a tremendous positive influence in her son’s life, but first she must earn her son’s respect by living an authentic witness to the truths she imparts to her son. Only then will she earn the right to be heard. Just as mothers in the Bible imparted advice to their sons regarding women, so should we. That having been said, I also realize that in many homes the dad plays the primary role in counseling his son regarding girl matters, especially when the son begins to pull away from the mom during the middle-school years.

One friend of mine shared that her son is more comfortable listening to dad, so she has stepped back. When she observes a situation that needs attention, she discusses it with her husband so he can address it with their son. In other homes (like mine), mom and dad both play a part in guiding their sons through girl matters. In yet other homes, mom is the primary influence, especially if it is a single-mom situation. Whether you influence your son from the front lines or behind the scenes is of little consequence as long as he is receiving positive and godly counsel.

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About the author: As a past agnostic and feminist, Vicki bought into the world's formula for liberation only to emerge empty and confused in her college years. During her junior year at the University of Texas in Austin, a friend invited her to a Christian conference for college students. It was there that she discovered that true liberation could only be found in Jesus Christ. She later founded Virtuous Reality Ministries® which reaches over 150,000 girls and mothers a year. She is the creator of, an online magazine for teen girls, and college-aged and adult women. Vicki resides in Austin , Texas with her husband, Keith and three children, Ryan, Paige and Hayden.

Adapted from Your Boy: Raising a Godly Son in an Ungodly World by Vicki Courtney, copyright © 2006. Published by Broadman & Holman Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.


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