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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Especially for BoyMamas of Seniors

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As you all can tell if you read this blog, I’m not doing too well at keeping up.  Last year, I was hopeful that I could give this some attention and be a resource for some of the moms of boys that I meet not only around the country at events, but the “members of the boymama club” that I recognize in the park or in the grocery store.

But, due to many factors in my life the past 5 months or so, I have really dropped the ball.  I also had a big transition going on with my youngest son, Benji that I couldn’t share publicly until his band was announced and had their official launch party.  Since that was last week, my “gag order” is now expired!  I’ll be sharing more about this part of our journey next week.

But, that’s not what I want to write about today… this is a quick post for moms of SENIOR boys.

I know you’re already exhausted and are either in the middle of preparations for graduation or you’re just trying to remember your name after all the hoopla last weekend!

Regardless of where you are in the “May Madness”, take a breath for a couple minutes.  Rest in the fact that you have given your son everything you have to be a successful human being.  Yes, you’ve made mistakes, but you’ve just crossed a major finish line and deserve a huge pat on the back!  If you still have a party to throw or lunch to cook for 50 relatives, “hang in there” and know that at the end of the day, making sure your son feels celebrated (and whether or not you’re stressed out) that day is more important than the college water bottle labels being perfect or the personalized cupcakes you’ve made or ordered.

Some of you may feel like a zombie because this year has been a painful one as your son has pushed so hard in his attempts to “get ready to launch” that he’s bruised your heart and crushed parts of it that you didn’t even realize he could.  Or maybe, like some Mamas I know,  you’re secretly grateful (and ashamed) that he’s about to go because you’re “rung out” from a tough year of navigating life with him.

I know that my last year with Graham was the hardest one we EVER had!  He turned 18 in May before his Senior year and thought he was a ‘full grown man who didn’t need a mama interfering in his life or decisions’. It was so bad that I almost kicked him out of the house before he left for college.  He apologized to me soon after (his vision cleared when he was thousands of miles away at school enduring his first summer preparing to play college football) and we’ve healed from that difficult year.   We both have some scars that remind us it was not a ‘bad dream’, but actually part of our journey as mother and son.  If this is you… please hear me say, “this is not the end of your story with your son!“.  I was broken-hearted and didn’t know if I could recover from the pain of that year, but I did.  I now have a great relationship today with my son who’s turning 22 tomorrow!  I’ve also been able to let go of my boys in a more purposeful way in the past 4 years as a result of what I began to learn that year.

David Thomas, author of Wild Things and DayStar Counseling in Nashville, has been a huge part of my journey with my sons helped me understand that it’s necessary for boys development to want to get out from under their parents roof.  That as a 17 or 18 year old, it’s critical that he separates and feels the desire to go out on his own into the world.  Sometimes, in order to do that, they push really hard… especially against the one holding on the tightest.

So, my advice here is pretty simple…. “Lean in” to the reality that he wants to go and that’s a good thing.  If you need a reminder of the alternative, check out the movie “Failure to Launch“.  While as Mamas, we may not want our kids to go, that’s the goal we’ve been working towards since their birth.  Remember, we want them to go out into the world and be a functioning adult.   We want our sons to make their own path and become the best version of himself!   Also, be aware that his heart is full of mixed emotions of being “ready to go” and “scared to death“!  He’s probably been operating on very little sleep with all the hoopla and is running on a low tank of emotional fuel, so give him some grace when he snaps at you.  I’m sure you’re tired too, so try to take care of yourself and ask for help from your husband, family and friends.

Enjoy these days as much as you can!   Celebrating HIM with joy is truly the best gift you can give him.  How he feels when he’s in the kitchen with you or in the car riding home from an event will be what his memories are made of twenty years from now.  Be patient if he wants you to wait while he takes 1000 pictures with his friends, or back off if he only wants you to take a few.  I promise he won’t care so much about all the Pintrest projects, but he will care that you recognized he was becoming a man and you let him go with as much grace as you could muster while loving him with all of your heart!

If I had a graduation cap to throw in your honor, I’d do it right now!

Bravo BoyMamas! Much love and peace from here.

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