Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. Proverbs 4:1
Have you ever heard yourself saying something to your children that you never imagined you would say? I had this experience not long ago.
My boys and I were engaged in some intense wrestle-mania action in our living room. Like most wrestling matches it started out all fine until things began to get a little too intense. Our oldest boy, who tends to be a little rougher than the other two was getting a little overly into it. That is when it happened. Out of my mouth came the strangest phrase I have ever uttered. “No kicking in the face!” I said with all seriousness. The moment the words left my mouth I realized how crazy I must have sounded.
It seems I was telling my boys that kicking is OK as long as it is not to the face. Is this right, are they allowed to kick one another? What kind of parent have I become? As I continued to think about this statement however, I became more and more comfortable with its message. I concluded that I was not telling my boys that it was ok to kick one another, but that it was their responsibility to protect one another. I was sending the message that as you use your wonderful strengths of power, aggression, energy, and play, be safe. The message that I now keep in mind when wrestling with my boys is “control yourself”.
I believe the lesson learned from these moments of high-energy play is how to control their aggression and energy. When I say, “no kicking in the face” I am attempting to teach my older son to “handicap” himself. He is obviously stronger and more powerful than the younger two. So, he must learn to play hard and energetically but in a controlled manner. This is the exact same thing that parents do over and over again while wrestling or playing sports with their children. We have fun and fully engage in the activity, but we take it easy on them and give them the advantage. As they get older and more capable we give less of an advantage and eventually succumb to the day when they truly beat us at our own game.
I love the lesson of self-control learned in these physical and experiential ways. It is so important for boys to be in control of their ‘self’. I have encountered many boys (and men) who have never learned to control their ‘self’. Sadly, if they cannot learn to control themselves they will eventually be controlled. So, one of the most important messages a boy needs to hear from his dad is, “No kicking in the face!” Not only does he need to hear this message, he needs to SEE this message displayed for him everyday in the way his dad lives his life.
What other ways can we teach our boys Self-control?
What are some other important messages boys need from Dads?
What important messages do boys need to hear from moms?