"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." Abraham Lincoln

Mothers play a vital role in their sons' lives. Here are a few suggestions to help in the amazing and sometimes scary endeavor of motherhood.

1. Give boys examples to follow

Express to your son what a wonderful man his father is. It builds his father up in his eyes and, honestly, it will cause his father to rise to the occasion. Encourage your husband to include your son when he is working on projects around the home. If he doesn't have a father in his home, then give him examples to follow. Arrange for trusted men to teach him skills. Arrange for your son to work on service projects in your community. Tell them stories of the wonderful things the father figures in your life did for you.

2. Cleanliness and modesty look good on boys

Boys can be taught to take care of themselves. They can learn the importance of grooming their hair and keeping nails trimmed. They can trim those bushy grandpa looking eyebrows to look more manageable. Boys can be taught how to wash and iron their own clothing and to dress appropriately. Boys sometimes will need to be reminded to put deodorant on more often or apply it more fully. You might need to explain to them that their body odor requires them to shower more frequently. Remind them to clean their ears or take care of their acne with skin care products.

3. Teach boys respect for womanhood

Do you allow your son to hit you when he is throwing a fit? It is never appropriate for this even as he is learning to deal with his emotions. Teach him to open the door for you or other women as he grows up. He can be prepared to guard the girls in his life. He can be taught to not allow himself to think inappropriate thoughts. He will not allow the guys around him to talk about girls inappropriately. Pornography is not a rite of passage but an awful source of addiction that skews the view of womanhood. Teach your son that the goal for him is to get to know girls. Be friends with them. Hang out and have fun. Boys should be prepared to know how to deal nicely with girls who do not have the same high standards as he does. It is natural for a relationship to progress in a certain direction. Jeanette G. Smith, a family therapist, explains that there are different stages to a relationship, and until he is ready to be a husband or father it is best to keep his relationships nonexclusive. It is my opinion that every parent and adult should own and read her book.

4. Decide when to let go and allow your son to sink or swim

In our attempts to help our boys succeed in life we sometimes do not allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions. Some mothers will own the mistakes of their grown sons, thinking that they should have taught him better or she should have prepared him more. If you are one of them, stop it. You have done enough and he is accountable for his own choices.

5. Build boys up

Boys need to be told by their mother that they are handsome. They need to know that their muscles are looking stronger and bigger. They need to be complemented. If your son has sisters, encourage them to do the same. A few nice words about his physical appearance go a long way for boys.

6. Expect greatness but don't be derailed when your son is not so great

It is good for you to expect amazing things from your son. As they grow they will try to rise to it. It is also important for mothers to understand that your son will make a mistake. Sometimes, a very big mistake. When this happens it is vital to show an increase in love to that boy who needs you. Tough love doesn't mean an absence of it.

It's tough when you are cleaning around the stinky toilet or picking up the toys that you slipped on. You groan when you see them struggle with bullies. It's expensive when you are supporting them with a passion that has them working towards a goal. You're tired. You're not certain you are doing enough. Take solace in the thought that amongst all the cleaning, training, carpooling, and doctoring you are putting together a man and it's worth it.

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