Wild Things: The Art of Nuturing Boys with David Thomas

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I’d love to share “ALL THINGS DAVID THOMAS”  with you today, so you can get to know a little about a man who is not only an amazing counselor, author, speaker and expert on boys, but truly one of my heroes!  If you don’t know David and his work, hopefully this introduction can help you with resources that help you understand a boy in your family better. Whether you’re a mom (or a grandmother) of a boy ages 2-22, David can help!

I found a few goodies today that I want to share.First is a link to download an excerpt of Wild Things:The Art of Nuturing Boys. It’s “hands down” the best resource that I know of for a mom of a boy.  I also found a video clip on YouTube from a few years ago where David tells a little about the book.  If you don’t have time to watch all of it, I’d love to encourage you to listen to a few minutes starting at 2:33 where David explains why understanding our sons matters.

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Years ago, I attended a parenting seminar that was invaluable to me as a mom that Daystar Counseling held in Nashville featuring David who was my son’s counselor at the time. For years, David has walked through extremely challenging events with my family.  There were really difficult seasons in our journey that he was truly a ‘lifeline’ for us.  At other times, he was more like an older brother to my now young adult sons.   As a mom, I told people for years that David is a huge reason I’m sane after parenting two boys as a single mom for over 15 years.  In all seriousness on several occasions, I’ve said “should he ever need a kidney, I would gladly give him one of mine“….. that’s how much I owe him.

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2009 photo Kim, Graham & David 

All that to say, we have benefited greatly as a family from David’s work and his life and it is a huge honor for me to be able to share him with a handful of BoyMamas at the events I host at The Nashville Treehouse.  David is an “in-demand” parenting expert and I still pinch myself when I invite him to come and he answers, ‘yes’!  If you can’t make it to Nashville to our October 7-8 event, I’d encourage you to follow him at Raising Boys and Girls to find out about other speaking events around the country and their new book releasing soon.

I’m headed to see the last high schooler in my family, my nephew Drew, play football tonight.  I’ll get to cheer for my alma mater, Evangelical Christian School (Memphis) and Drew here in Nashville. Have a great weekend!

PS. If you don’t have the book yet, click below to order it today!

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Bigger Than His Body

I know most of you know that my son, Graham is #52, the starting Center for Stanford Football.  It’s been such a thrill watching him play this fall live and on national tv.  It’s especially rewarding to see him stepping into so much of what I’ve always known he was meant to do beyond football as well.  Graham was “Red-shirted” his Freshman year, which means he practiced every single practice with “all that he had” knowing that no matter what… he wasn’t going to play in the game.  I really can’t imagine what kind of discipline that takes.  Especially, when you’ve been an All American in high school with more offers than you can count coming out of high school.

Graham’s worked really hard the past few years at Stanford and has learned several lessons the hard way.  His journey is his to share if and when he chooses, but as his Mama, I’m really grateful he’s made it to his “sweet spot!”  I’m so grateful to get to see him not only play his heart out on the field, but see him stepping up as a leader on and off it.   Graham’s always been a people person. He’s able to relate and talk to anyone and willing to help, so it’s not surprising to me that every time I go to Stanford, other parents tell me how much Graham has helped their son with the huge adjustment of college football.

This week, this video (Shuler on Stanford) was released by Stanford Football and I’d love to share it with you.  A friend of mine in Dallas tweeted me after seeing it that “Graham’s heart was bigger than his body” and it made my day because Craig saw what I’ve always known about my “mountain of a man”.   I was reminded again that God does above and beyond what we can ask or think when He opens doors for our sons that lead them to be the best versions of themselves and step into their own unique calling.

Graham would be the first to say it’s been a rocky road the past few years… again, his story to tell.  But, if you have a son enduring some of those times, I hope this encourages you to step out of the way and trust God with his journey.  I’m incredibly grateful for the coaches at Stanford, especially Head Coach David Shaw for creating a football culture that is as concerned with my son’s character and education as with his football abilities. They’ve raised the bar for Graham and his teammates and my son is benefiting from that environment in more ways than I can count.  It’s definitely helped me rest easier knowing that they truly care about Graham now and who he’s becoming as he enters adulthood.

This morning, I did a radio interview for WBYN (107.5 FM) for a benefit concert that I’m part of in a few weeks in the Philadelphia area.   The host started off our conversation telling me that he’d seen Graham’s video this week and wanted to talk to me about him and his perspective on being at Stanford.  Of course, a delight to this mama’s ears!  I’ve shared it on facebook, but it prompted me to write this and share it here too.

Last week, I was at their game against Notre Dame (tough game in horrible weather) and I tried to endure it in my ski jacket and rain gear, but wimped out and joined the old folks in the gym watching the big screens.  I’m grateful that Friday night, I can watch Graham in my pjs on ESPN 8pm CST kickoff vs Washington State.  I’m hoping for an easy win, though I know in the PAC-12 that doesn’t happen too often, but my stomach has just recovered from the tension of the last game.  My sweet mama is hoping for that too. She text me during the last game and said, “Graham needs to play a different position… this is too intense!”  My mom doesn’t watch football, but is watching Stanford this fall with her 94 year old mother.  They’re cheering for Graham along with all of our family and friends!

After the game in the 30 something degree rain.

After the game in the 30 something degree rain.

Hope you’ll join us cheering for #52 and Stanford if you’re home tomorrow night and are able to catch the game!

Peace and love from here, Kim

Next weekend, I’ll be hosting our last “BoyMama Weekend” at The Nashville Treehouse.  We still have a few spots available if you are within driving distance of Nashville, would love to invite you to join us.  David Thomas (Wild Things, The Art of Nuturing Boys) who’s my special guest is worth coming for alone!  We also have real conversations about parenting, great music, gourmet food and a wine tasting woven into a few days of R&R for moms of boys.  www.nashvilletreehouse.com/boymama 

Some Fights Are Worth Fighting

Benji's Instagram Jan 2014

Benji’s Instagram Jan 2014

Well, after starting off with a bang in my attempt to become a blogger, I fell off the wagon in May and for most of June.  Like most of you, I was juggling happy events like Mother’s Day, weddings, graduations and birthdays along with some unexpected funerals and tough times with my youngest son, Benji.  Hopefully, Benji won’t be mad at me for sharing this (maybe he’ll never know, since he’s on a mission trip in Haiti right now,) but a few weeks ago, he was in his first real fight.  I’m grateful this didn’t happen until he was 17. He swears it won’t happen again, but every man I’ve talked to about it tells me it’s an inevitable part of being a man.

When I first got the call from Benji that he needed me to come and pick him up, I was mad at him for getting into a fight for ANY reason!  He said emphatically, “Mama, I don’t need a lecture right now, I think I have a concussion (as diagnosed by his big brother over the phone in California) and I need you to come and pick me up.”  I won’t go into all of the details, but after hearing the “whole story,” I understood it was probably unavoidable.  Benji told me the next day (after we were both up and down all night) “Mama, you don’t understand “Man Code” and that if this happened 100 years ago, we would’ve had a duel and one of us would have been shot“.  So, I felt a little better that he only had a mild concussion and promised he’d walk away next time, regardless of the names the other guys shouted at him.

I find that the same part of Benji that decided to “fight” a few weeks ago, is the same part of him who “fought” his own fears and emotions to get on a plane Saturday morning at 5:00am to fly to Haiti for two weeks to work with an mission organization there working with kids in orphanages.  The day before, Benji was diagnosed with a rare disease that has been alluding doctors and chiropractors for the past several months as they’ve tried to treat him for chronic pain in his hip.  On Friday, Benji was told he’d need to have surgery when he returned and that he’d be on crutches for the last month of his summer.  The prognosis is good, only a 10-20% chance his problem will reoccur, but as a young man who’d already started the summer with several big personal disappointments, it was tough news to swallow.  He’d go to Haiti with no pain relief and return to spend his summer in a very different way than he’d planned.  He wouldn’t be able to report for his summer job that he was excited about, no driving (truly a hardship for a 17 year old young man and for his mother!), no swimming, a huge curve ball…. you get the picture.

As they say, “to add insult to injury“, Benji’s former girlfriend was in a bad car wreck 6 hours before his flight Friday night.   Ironically, the boy he fought was driving the car when it happened, so there was a lot of emotion around all of these events leading up to his departure.  I can’t say much about this event, but I truly believe God spared their lives and pray that it’s a wake up call for our community.

Benji had been impacted by his first trip to Haiti with his school in January so much that within 48 hours of being home, he’d organized a group of 30 to return to the same place for a week. He’d also signed up for an additional week by himself hoping a few friends could go, but they weren’t able to make it.  For months, he’s told me that he couldn’t wait to get back to Haiti and that being there was his favorite place on earth.  The week before he left, it seemed like daily there were obstacles discouraging Benji from making the trip to the point that I finally clued in that there must be a higher purpose for Benji in Haiti than I ever imagined. Over and over again, (as in my own life) in my boys journeys to manhood, I’ve seen a true battle take place around them when they are at important crossroads.

So, my brave 17 year old son faced his fears head on and left Nashville by himself after an exhausting day and night.  As a mama of boys, I think it’s hard for us to understand sometimes that some of the strengths our sons carry are a mixed bag. Instead of trying to “domesticate” them to the point of emasculation by making sure they always “behave like a good little boy“, I think we need to embrace the good, bad and the ‘sometimes ugly‘ parts of their manhood.

We all know that our strengths can be weaknesses if they’re not harnessed well.  Sadly, I’ve seen too many mamas respond with the extremes of throwing their hands up in frustration and quitting or turning into drill sergeants and “micro-managing” when they have strong-willed, independent offspring.   I think it’s easier to fall off in “either ditch” then to do the hard work of training them to be who they are designed to be.  Walking the hard road avoiding the ditches requires more from us as parents.  I told my boys for years that I was going to do my job regardless of what they thought about me.  I’d hopefully be their friend and ‘consultant’ later, but right now, I’m still wearing my “Coach Mom” hat and fighting the fights worth fighting for my boys.  When they’re adults, they’ll be responsible for their choices, but until then, it’s my duty to them to stay in the game, even when I’m worn out.

Both of my sons have made plenty of mistakes and foolish choices (just like we all have), but that’s part of growing up and part of their training as young men.  Hopefully, our boys learn from their mistakes so that they’re not making “foolish youthful mistakes” as adults.  I realize more each day that we ALL face battles privately and publicly and we need all the help we can get.   How much more do our sons need grace as they’re growing and maturing into manhood?  Encourage your son today that you see WHO he is and the good that will come from his life.  He needs to hear from you as his mom that he’ll be admired and loved, that he can be brave and you’ll always be in his corner!

If you’re a mom of a boy, I’d love to invite you to our first “BoyMama weekend” coming up July 11-12 at The Nashville Treehouse.

 

June 2014

June 20, 2014 – the tough Friday