Do you compare your kids to each other or to their friends? It’s kind of impossible not to. I have two sons. One is way more stereotypically “boyish” than the other. Until the little one was old enough to ask for specific toys, we didn’t own a sword or lightsaber. My older son was happy with blocks and farm animals. All of the stereotypical hobbies for boys were not his style.
So here are these two kids, 20 months apart. They have the same parents and the same exposure to television. Yet my little one is just so much more naturally rough and tumble. My older son never wrestled with his grandfather until his brother started doing it. He never jumped off a bench at the park. At a souvenir shop, the little one grabs a sword and the big one, a puppet. How do you make sense of it when you have one boy who isn’t as “boyish?” And how do you encourage your son to pursue what he loves, even if it’s not what the other boys are into?
First things first, when they are very young and until we start telling them, our kids don’t know what is for boys or for girls. They just know what looks fun. And just because he doesn’t enjoy stereotypical hobbies for boys doesn’t mean he’s not growing into a strong young man. I’ve watched my 8-year-old son develop a love for theater and performing. He knows he’s the only boy in the group and he’s admitted it’s a little awkward. My heart hurts because he feels alone, but I am so proud of him for doing something he enjoys.
Our theater experience has opened my eyes to truths that I pray for both of my sons—and for yours, too.
That our sons will do what they love, not just what the other boys are doing.
That our sons will know that activities and hobbies for boys can also be done well by girls and vice versa.
That our sons never feel they have to do or like something or they are less of a boy.
But there’s more…
Now look at these prayers and imagine them being prayed for a 20-year-old young man instead of an 8-year-old boy. They look a lot different than just supporting a kid who wants to take art lessons or doesn’t want to play youth football. They speak to what it means to respect yourself and the dignity of others. Those prayers are about encouraging them to pursue the passion God has placed on their hearts. They are about respecting each person’s ability regardless of sex, race, or religion. And they are about not giving in to pressure to conform to what society says a “real man” would do. I’d say that’s a pretty important prayer for every boy.
How do you encourage your children to pursue their passions, even when different from what the other kids are doing?