Dirty socks on your chandelier, wads of gum in the dryer, scientific laboratories that only slightly resemble bedrooms, weapons materializing from thin air, and frogs on the dinner table are but a few surprises you can expect if you have boys in your home. After growing up as one of seven girly girls, I think it poetic justice that God sent me four boys. As bewildered as I once was by my Y-chromosome babies, how I love and cherish my sons - boys who have taught me the language of technology, the everyday wonders of nature, the strategies of every imaginable sport or game, the tender side of tough, and the miracle of becoming a man.

If you really want to know what to expect from your boys, you will need to examine your own values and determine your expectations for your boys. With society's ever-changing messages concerning the roles and definitions of manhood, it has never been more vital for parents and leaders to articulate, teach and model that which they expect from the boys who will shape our future. Following are six suggestions for helping your boys become the men the world needs.

If you want your boy to hold reverence for God and country

  • Help him feel and recognize spiritual experiences that will connect him to a power higher than himself.

  • Pray with him and for him.

  • Teach him to leave places and people better than he found them.

  • Support him in showing appreciation for local and national government leaders and men and women in uniform.

  • Illustrate the interconnectedness between the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

  • Model devotion and patriotism.

If you want your boy to become a productive member of society with a good work ethic

  • Give him age-appropriate chores and praise him for a job well done.

  • Assist him in finding opportunities to earn money, and then expect him to pay for some of his own needs and wants and save some for a rainy day.

  • Encourage him to study hard in school and seek as much education as possible.

  • Work cheerfully alongside him.

  • Teach him the financial and emotional rewards of honest labor.

  • Model diligent productivity, and whistle while you work.

If you want your boy to develop good judgment and decision making skills.

  • Within appropriate parameters, allow him to make his own decisions.

  • From an early age, let him experience the natural consequences of his actions.

  • Teach him to consider possible outcomes and pros and cons of his choices.

  • Encourage him to be observant of others and learn from their experiences, both positive and negative.

  • Model discernment and prudence.

If you want your boy to show respect for others

  • Show him kindness and consideration.

  • Reward him for being courteous and well mannered.

  • Insist that he show proper regard for parents, teachers, leaders and authority figures.

  • Notice and acknowledge his thoughtful and caring behaviors.

  • Encourage him to get to know others who may be different from him - culturally, religiously, physically, etc.

  • Model tolerance, politeness, and forbearance.

Click here to learn more about raising a modern-day gentleman.

If you want your boy to become a good husband and father

  • Praise him for showing proper respect to women and children.

  • Speak and behave kindly to your own spouse and parents.

  • Give him opportunities to work and interact with other good men.

  • Provide opportunities for him to serve and sacrifice for others.

  • Highlight good role models, especially his own father, when possible.

  • Model leadership and love.

In the words of author Dorothy Law Nolte, "Children learn what they live. Then they grow up to live what they've learned." Expect the best from your boys and from yourself. In most cases, you will see them grow into men that exceed your greatest expectations.

Check out this link for a discussion with other parents about raising boys.

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