There’s nothing quite like boys…ferociously competitive, endlessly energetic, possessed with the insatiable desire to grab the world by the horns…I’m working up a sweat just thinking about it. This is boys at their best, the way God designed them to be. Our culture pressures us to feminize our boys. It accuses by asking, don’t I want my boys to be caring men? Yes. Thoughtful and considerate? You bet. Sulky, lazy, unmotivated wimps? Yuck.

I have six boys, and my husband works away from home. Fellow moms see this and often ask me questions like, How do you keep your boys busy? What kind of work or activities can I give my boys? How do I raise my son to be a man when his dad works away from home all day?

A little about Dad…

Boys need their father. They need his guidance, his leadership, his example. Unfortunately, in modern times Dad is often away from home earning a living for his family. It has been a dream of ours to work together as a family, and we have done that in the past, but currently a family business is just not feasible for us, and that’s okay. As wives, we have to work with what our husbands provide.

My first and biggest blessing as a mother of boys is that my man fathers his children wherever he is. He calls home two or three times a day to see what they’re working on, give them directions, or just ask questions. “What are the boys doing right now? Have they finished the project they started this morning?” John, my husband, has taught our boys to be capable and confident. He’s worked beside them, showing them how to do things until he knew he could trust their solo efforts. We’ve both taught them that they can do anything—and if they don’t know how, they can learn.

My husband gives the boys jobs and projects, but day by day it’s up to me to keep them busy and engaged.

A little about why…

Why all the fuss about children being busy? Don’t children need time to play and be entertained and “be kids”?

Children need structure and organization. We want them to be hardworking, responsible adults, right? They’ll never learn how unless they’re working and responsible now. It’s never too early or too late.

Boys, in particular, are our future men, the fathers, providers, and leaders of tomorrow.

Boys, in particular, are our future men, the fathers, providers, and leaders of tomorrow. I want my boys to “quit you like men” and get the job done. My husband told someone that the way he changes the oil in our vehicle is by first sitting down, usually with a cup of coffee, and then saying to one of our boys, “Change the oil.” The man marveled, “And you really trust his work?” Well, yes, because after doing it with our son the first few times, he let him do it himself and checked his work. Doing it himself and seeing his work meet with Dad’s approval builds confidence in our son.

A while back, my car was shrilly squeaking whenever I turned a corner. My 12-year-old son said, “Mom, I can fix that,” and he named the part he believed was at fault, a something-or-other belt; I thought belts were for holding up pants. But my son was confident he could fix it—and he did. He fixed it even though he had until that day never repaired that part; he’d just watched Dad work on it before.

Boys need that self-assured belief that they can do anything to grow into men of action and achievement—but they’ll never build that confidence if Mom and Dad never give them real responsibility. We have to give important jobs to our kids, and then we have to trust them and not worry about them messing up. It would certainly be easier for us to just do the hard stuff ourselves and let our boys play, but our goal isn’t to do what’s easy. It’s to raise men.

strong in spirit

A little about entertainment…

Boys need that self-assured belief that they can do anything to grow into men of action and achievement—but they’ll never build that confidence if Mom and Dad never give them real responsibility.

My boys love to read. It is their favorite pastime, hands down. Most people would say that’s fantastic, and indeed it is a good thing. But as with anything we enjoy, it can get excessive. Whether entertainment takes the form of a book, a card game, a movie (even educational documentaries) or just playing, it’s all the same. It’s all entertainment. We all like to relax and be entertained from time to time, but everything has to have its place. I don’t want my boys to be idle, so I only allow reading or any other form of entertainment after dinner cleanup. (Obviously school time and Bible study are exceptions.) I want them to be using their minds and hands creatively during the daylight hours.

My husband and I treat our boys as young men. We want them to be hardworking and confident. I believe the more productive we are, the better we feel, and so I structure my children’s day to be active and busy—and they love it.