Last weekend we went on a church camp – tents, smoky fires and lots of kids! Someone asked me – probably tongue in cheek but it made me think – what do you do when boys just want to play in the fire! Sure enough there were about 5 young boys with sticks poking the fire and having a wonderful time. My quick answer was – you teach them responsibility and let them enjoy fire!
Thinking about it I think that is the right answer. Boys will be boys – let them be; let them be adventurous, boisterous, loud, dirty, physical, risk takers – but teach them responsibility. Teach them when the right time to be loud is, and when the right time to be quiet is. Teach them when it is okay to play rough and when it is the right time to be gentle. Teach them when it is okay to explore and when you need to hold the curiosity. Teach them to take risks but teach them to consider their abilities first. Responsibility and self-control.
Responsibility teaches them to consider their surroundings and to consider other people.
Self-control enables them to stop if it is inappropriate or inconsiderate.
2 Key Lessons I learnt
to handle my Boys doing Risky Things
I remember hearing a story from Greg Harris – he came home and his wife was frustrated because one of the boys kept throwing stones and she wanted Dad to step in and correct this behaviour. Dad instead took the boy outside and showed him how to throw a stone properly; he talked to him about the dangers and the responsibility. This is not what his wife had in mind! Mums think differently – but not necessarily right!
Another speaker I heard once (can’t remember his name) talking about boys and risk. He felt that the reason our teen boys feel they are invincible on the roads at 17 is because they have never hurt themselves, they think they are invincible. Playgrounds are padded, climbing trees is frowned upon. These young men (in his opinion) had never seen a risk, measured their ability and tested themselves with that risk. His encouragement to mums was to let them go –let them take risks, they may get hurt, but they will also learn. I guess his point was, an accident in the playground is better than an accident on the highway!
[Tweet “Before boys take risks we need to teach them Responsibility and Self control and then let them be brave.”]The questions we need to ask ourselves are –
- Have we taught them responsibility and self-control?
- Will they consider other people around them?
- Do they consider the consequences before they act?
- Do they have the self-control to stop if their idea isn’t appropriate?
- Have we given them skills to carry out what they want to do?
Another aspect to letting boys be boys is to trust our husbands. When our adventurous boy goes out and about and wants to explore and test physical limits I have to rely on Peter for an appropriate boundary. My sense of danger is far too keen – Peter on the other hand assesses danger/risk differently and I have to trust that he has his son’s interests at heart, and of course he does! He won’t let him go too far. For me it then becomes a trust issue.
I have also decided that there are some moments, some activities, where I just don’t have to watch!!
Do you Let your Boys be Boys?
Are you letting your boys be boys? Letting them test their physical prowess? Letting them take risks and challenge themselves? Letting them explore their world? It starts with letting them explore the sandpit, of walking away and letting them play by themselves, allowing them to climb trees and sit on a limb, of doing things upside down, or ride their bikes really fast (with no hands!) and then there is no end to the adventure that they may embark on.
But no boy, no young man should ever neglect the responsibility to look after his own health, to consider those around him and to respect property belonging to himself or others. He needs to do all things with responsibility and self-control.
Note: And of course, before I let my girls read this post – yes, girls like playing with fire, girls like doing dangerous things too and the same lessons apply! Just sayin’!
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