Mom, God has wired you to love your son. Your soft, nurturing spirit is critical to his development. But as your son grows into a young man, his primary emotional need from you will become something else: respect.

Respect is what attracts guys to coaches and mentors. A growing boy needs someone who will put an arm around his shoulder and challenge his performance. Someone who will say, “I expect more out of you, and you should expect more out of yourself.” A boy needs to be challenged to rise up and win the game, to conquer the chess tournament, or to master the musical piece. He’ll need that tenacity when he grows up and becomes a husband, a father, and citizen who stands for what’s right.

Transitioning from nurturing love to respect will require a shift on your part, mom. It will also raise some questions:

  • How do I balance respect with my natural instinct to shower my son with hugs by the bucketful?
  • Should I offer my son respect if he’s not acting in a respectable manner?
  • What if I don’t have the vocabulary to communicate respect to my son in a way that he’ll receive it?

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