Mothers and Sons. “That’s My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys…” by Rick Johnson and excerpt of children’s fear of dark (Sept. 2010)

Susan's Thursday morning note September 23, 2010
That's My Son: How Moms can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character by Rick Johnson
Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France by Sue Monk Kidd (Mother/Daughter Relationships)
Things That Go Bump in the Night by Dr. Paul Warren & Dr. Frank Minirth (Children's fear of dark)

Hi out there!!  It’s hard to get up and try to think with rain coming down.  Two sickly-looking sopping cats at the sliding doors just let in to warm up with a little milk in a cup.  Perfect coffee for me.  I’m ready!  I have three books in front of me and I don’t know how to put any of the three into good words for you.  The first I wanted to write about I devoured the last two weeks.  Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd.  If you are a woman (or know a woman!) around the age of 50 and have a daughter around 22-23 then I really think you would find a lot of help in this book.  This is a journal of both women (the mother & daughter…each chapter switching between each).  Of the mother entering menopause and trying to figure out her emotions, her sadness, her thoughts as she argues “aging” with herself.  Seeing her daughter so young…painfully feeling her “youth” behind her…regrets…not knowing what to look forward to in a lot of areas of her life.  Then entering the mind of her daughter…her fears now that she leaves her “youth” to her.  Her sadness of feeling “youth” is gone…her depression on the inside.  The two having a hard time connecting because of how much the daughter has grown the last few years…how to re-find a new relationship between them of two adults, yet mother/daughter.  I have thought of every friend with older daughters and want them all to read this.  I believe this will be like I felt with Anne Lindbergh.  I read her the first time thinking over and over, “Yes, this is how I feel…this is what I think…I just had never known to solidify the thoughts into actual thoughts or words…”  Just finding someone who understood so deeply thoughts of mine I hadn’t ever really thought out…helping me to then say inwardly, “Now, what can I do knowing where I am?”  I believe Sue Monk Kidd will do the same for anyone with older daughters and any woman going through (or fearing) menopause.  Regardless of if there is a daughter in the scene.  Chapter after chapter of accepting the challenge of 50’s and older…finding the new “I” inside…finding the eternal perspective of the soul instead of the finite thinking of our time on earth….I recommend this book so highly.  I can’t even put exact paragraphs out for you…too complex.

Okay.  Second book I want to write on but don’t know where to begin.  That’s My Son by Rick Johnson.  Ordered by one of you.  Snuck off the shelf and stealthily brought home by me.  How often that happens at that little bookshop in Aurora by the girl behind the counter!  A privilege or pardonable sin?  (grin).  This book begins with an account of a war in Greece in 480 B.C between the Persians and Spartans.  There was a narrow valley through the mountains named Thermopylae where 300 Spartan men were chosen (including the king) to stall the Persians…knowing that all 300 would most likely be killed in delaying the army.  The king was secretly asked before the battle how he chose the 300 men for the suicide mission.  “Did he pick the bravest men the best fighters, the greatest Olympic athletes?  Or did he choose the fastest, strongest, and wisest men he could find?  Leonidas stated that none of those traits factored into how he chose the 300.  Instead he chose them based on the character of their wives and mothers.  He reasoned that Thermopylae would not be the deciding battle of the war – that would come later on the plains of Greece.  Since all the men at Thermopylae were destined to be killed, their wives and mothers would be left for the rest of Greece to see.  If these women were broken by the loss of their husbands and sons, then the Greeks would lose heart and fail to defend their homeland.  But if these women exhibited courage and strength, then the Grecian peoples would be inspired and win the war…apparently these extraordinary women performed up to his expectations…”

I was captivated by this story and entered the book…(I have to add there is also a letter in a writing I can’t find anywhere this morning of a letter from Plutarch to his wife on hearing news on the death of their toddler daughter.  They only had sons before this little dear girl was born.  The letter arrives to her with incredible kindness and love from Plutarch, who was travelling when his daughter died.  He expresses his deep love and pain for what his wife is enduring, then follows the letter with his pride in how he already know she will carry the burden of grief…keeping her mind sharp, giving God thanks for the beautiful little girl that was in their home that they never dreamed they would’ve had a few years back when their lives where so happy with their sons…writing his pride and encouraging her to keep her steadfast spirit, her mind clear, her love of life still alive even with the great pain of this loss….I thought of her as one of the women the king in Greece would have chosen…a woman who through deep loss, and deep grief, continually prayed for an eternal perspective and keeping a strong spirit even in great pain…I love reading examples such as these.  Strength.  What we as women are capable of if we don’t turn inward (we’re still allowed to cry in the shower as I wrote about a year ago…then get on with the day focusing on others and what we have…even if we can only find the tiny flower that God gave us that day…that is still life….beautiful.)

I told you I didn’t know how to put any of this together today!  I just can say that anyone with sons or that works with boys – this is the best book I have found for helping me.  Here are the chapter titles:

1. Your Place in God’s Plan for Your Son
2.  Why Are Boys So Different?
Physiology, Hormones, Adolescent Boys (testosterone & hard to control desires in puberty), Psychology, Characteristics Common to Boys, War on Boys (trying to take away their toughness…this was really interesting)
3.  Pitfalls – What to Avoid
Mothers & Sons & Apron Strings (overly affectionate mom), “But He Might Get Hurt” (letting them take more dangerous risks…interesting comparison of a dad taking a boy to playground vs. mom – moms fear where they might fall, dads put them up high and say go for it…the need for “danger”, Smothering with Love, No Quitting,
4.  Boys and Sex
How Males Think about Sex, Sex Education (at different ages), Private Issues, Dating
5.  Communicating with Boys
Males Can’t Read Minds, “Touch, Eye Contact, and Sound Bites”, Reinforce with Activity, Admiration & Respect,
6.  Disciplining Boys
Consequences & Accountability, Challenging Authority, Anger Control, Teach Them to Work
7.  What Do Boys Need to Learn to Become Good Men?
What is a Man?  Perseverance, Loyalty, Manners, Courage, Compassion, Self-Discipline & Self-Control, Dependability, Honesty, Humility, Trustworthiness, Honor
8.  Respect
Respect for Women, Single Moms & Self-Respect, Boundaries
9.  The Importance of Male Role Models
The Need to See What to Be, Mentors, Heroes
10.  Where Do I Go from Here?

Recognize Your Role, Pray, Plan, Keep Learning, Involve Male Role Models, Develop a Vision for Your Son, Modify Existing Programs to Fit Your Situation, Have Fun!

Then resources are given…highly recommended books for boys to read…more books for parents and workers with boys to read.  See why I didn’t know where to begin on writing on this book?  I’ll special order and get copies in next week…let me know if you’d like me to save you either of the ones above.

Then the third book sitting here that’s helped me the last month.  Things That Go Bump in the Night: How to Help your Children Overcome Their Fears by Dr. Paul Warren & Dr. Frank Minirth.  The problem is this one is out of print, but I can tell you a line I read that I found interesting.  When children have unreasonable or unfounded fears…we as parents often say statements like, “I promise there is nothing there, you don’t need to be afraid.”  Or, we go to the area they’re afraid they heard or know something is and show them there is nothing there.  The advice in this book is nonchalantly stating to the…”It’s such a pain to be “9” (or whatever age they are)…You’ll be so glad when you’re older and don’t have the feelings 9 year olds have that something is over there!!  I’ll stay with you a little bit until you aren’t so scared.  Soon you’ll wake up and not even think this anymore!!  That’s one of the pains of being 9!”  This short sentence shows them they’re normal.  They don’t have to solve the fear or be rational (they’re unable to be)…but that they can go through this time and have the fear…pray…still have the fear, but see that it’s okay.  The book is much deeper than this, but that is the paragraph that I liked & thought you might like.  Maybe you can find a used copy on Amazon if you have young children….I really liked the blunt advice and not taking their fears into major moments of our days, but acknowledging them as reality of theirs and moving through the fears with them.

Well, those were my three books here.  I almost cheated and did none of them – just sending a poem.  But, I was affected and wanted you to be with words worth reading in these books.  I so hope you can come over to the used bookstore…treasures everywhere in there.  More than 500 more books put in there the last 10 days!  If you only knew how much I love to see you entering with bags and boxes of even more books.  We’ll always take them!!  We’ve given away 50 books just this week…how everything matters that we’re doing together here!  Thank you so much for your constant encouragement.  Tonight we’ll write an epitaph for the moments we use today.  Will we use them in a way worth writing?  If we don’t think we have anything worth writing tonight…if we take the time to listen to the rain…if we take the time to notice the silence…if we take the time to notice anything, even our own feelings…if we take the time to stop the moments…then we have something to write.  Making our short lives worthy.  Praying silently.  Slowing down.  Enjoying the smallest details.  not agonizing if the house isn’t “Suzy Homemaker” house…but that the house has life all over.  Regardless of our age.  Is there a desire to live shown around us if someone walked in, or is there starkness from trying to show perfection and too much order?  Life.  So fast.  Let’s try to make the day count – regardless of anything that was the past….today.  All new.  Thank you for letting me come into your Thursday again!  Susan

Latin for this week:
Sunt pueri pueri, pueri puerilia tractant - Boys are boys, and boys do boyish things.
Matris condicio - of being a mother
Filiae condicio - of being a daughter

Works Cited:
Johnson, Rick.  That's My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character.  2005.  Grand Rapids.  Revell.
Kidd, Sue Monk, Taylor, Ann Kidd.  Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France.  2010.  New York.  Penguin Group.
Warren, Dr. Paul, Minirth, Dr. Frank.  Things That Go Bump in the Night.  1992.  Nashville.  Thomas Nelson.