Living simply in the wild

Raising Boys: The Tender Soul

Lately I’ve realized something profound…my Junior Rangers are more like me then I ever had hoped. This is not a bad thing but it’s not particularly a good thing because they seemed to have received a lot of my dents.

1) I noticed this the other day when they laughed at my jokes. Normally this wouldn’t be anything to write home about, but my jokes are aweful. So this is not something to brag about. Ranger, now he can make me laugh. He has an awesome sense of humor…and he rarely laughs as my jokes. So that tells me something.

2) The poor kids run into things….a lot. Tables, Walls, doors, it doesn’t matter. I always thought my sister was the clumsy one growing up, but looking back I was the one hanging by my underwear during an intense game of hide and go seek with all the neighborhood kids. The pants ripped, I tumbled to the ground face first and had to do a walk of shame with a mouthful of dirt.

3) They are tender. The soak up other peoples feelings. They feel their feelings to the fullest. When they are mad their MAD. When their happy their happy. They feel.

Every few months we will have a spell of crying at night. Not a few tears, but what is known as the ugly cry. You know the one where you’re eyebrows go crooked, your mouth gets wider.  The cries are from things that have happened years ago, things that stirred up dust once but have settled since then. But we have to rework through those issues as if they have just happened.

So how do you go about raising boys with a tender soul, someone who feels so deeply. Trust me, I write this for my own reminder, not because I have it figured out.

The world we live in is extremely harsh. We have to be tough, thick skinned, and withstand blow after blow. We must force ourselves and our children to be tough to deal with the world.  I believe we were all born sensitive, with all these feelings and emotions. Through the years we realized that it hurts, it hurts to feel so much. So we force ourselves to toughen up, to close off. And then we teach our children.

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We should be strong, we need to be strong in the world to face it. The balance is being strong and staying open.

So how do we raise boys with a tender soul?

1) We must be tender ourselves.

If you have ever paid attention to any child in your lifetime you will see that all of them take on actions and words of those adults they are around. In our house we use the word ridiculous quite often. Sure enough the other day Junior Kman came huffing and puffing out of his bedroom after getting dressed. His jeans were unbuttoned, shoes untied, he had skipped about 12 buttons on his shirt. Little man sat down on the stairs, crossed his little arms, stomped his foot and said very clearly and angrily, “I look widiculous!”. In fact he did look very ridiculous. So i hugged him, explained how we could remedy the situation and make him look a bit less ridiculous. I too get angry at my clothes, way more often then I should. Thankfully I have stopped yelling at my clothes because i’ve realized they don’t listen. So I understood where he was coming from.

Whether it is the words you use or the actions you put forth, they are watching and soaking it all up in their beautiful little brains. In traffic their watching you, at the grocery store their watching how you react to the people around you. If we keep ourselves tender, if we pull ourselves away from being so tough to the world around us we will look at the world a bit differently. Our children will start seeing us deal with others with kindess and tenderness and in turn they will, hopefully, do the same.

2) We must be open. A side effect of being tough is being closed off. We stop seeing what is around us.

It never fails when playing with legos. Little Junior will work so hard on building the perfect contraption. Sometimes it is a plane, sometime is it a double decker plane, but whatever it is it’s huge…and top heavy. Apparently we haven’t learned how this effects things but i’m hoping we will learn this lesson soon because a lot of tears are shed. He will be concentrated so hard on building and then i’ll hear it. A shatter across the wood floor. And then i’ll wait for it, and it always comes. A defeated sigh, the look of complete heartache in his eyes, and then the tears swell up. He’s defeated. Completely and utterly defeated.

No big deal, it’s just legos. Get over it, build it again. But if I stop for a minute and see how much of himself he poured into building that masterpiece i’ll see that it’s not just legos. If i’m open enough i’ll see that it meant something to him, he was proud of it, and now it’s destroyed.

So every time I go and I sit by him.

“I know you were working so hard on that. I know you are not happy that it all fell apart.” A nice long hug here will usually stop the tears. He realizes that I understand, that it is a big deal, that he is upset, that I am here…open.

I ask him if he knows how he put it together and if we can work to put it back how it was. A few wipes of snot on the sleeve and we’re back to building another masterpiece.

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3) Give them tools.

I wish it were as easy as going to the hardware store and loading up a tool box, but it isn’t. This part really depends on belief systems and what works for an individual. Trial and error play a big role with this part.

The good news: there are so many tools out there!

Tools can be anything. For one of our Rangers a hug is the best tool. When he’s frustraited, annoyed or just in a pissy mood recieving a little extra love will have him smiling in no time. In fact just yesterday he was in a less than happy mood. I asked him what was the matter. His response? “I just need some lovin”. He’s getting it.

For our other Ranger it’s talking. He’s one to keep things inside and when I realize something is bothering him we will sit down and talk and spend some one on one time together. He will walk away in a much lighter mood.

Religion is a huge tool. Whether it’s God, Brahman, HaShem, Allah, or Buddah. Having a higher power that can help you along your journey is an excellent tool and one that most find very comforting.

Meditation, yes even for children. This is a tool i’m trying to equip our boys with. There are many types of meditation and there are a lot geared towards children. Mostly it is guided imagary which can be very fun and very powerful. It fosters many things within them and I hope it will be something they keep growing because it will always be something they can reach for.

Herbs and suppliments.   Being a tender soul isn’t a flaw, it doesn’t need fixing. It may need a little tuning and adjusting, but it is a gift and doesn’t need cured. There are so many wonderful herbs and nutrition based diets to really help your body become balanced. These are wonderful for kids as they are gentle on their bodies and natural. Seek out someone experienced in working with children and herbs together for their advice.

So how do you raise a tender soul? I’m not sure any of us know. But I bet that if we ourselves stay tender and open and we are able to supply these beautiful children with tools to help them along on their lives journey, i think that is a great place to start.

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<sorry, yes=”” i=”” am=”” aware=”” of=”” the=”” typo=”” in=”” quote=”” on=”” photo.=”” it’s=”” been=”” a=”” brutal=”” week=”” and=”” thought=”” trying=”” to=”” re-edit,=”” save,=”” convert,=”” upload=”” one=”” more=”” thing=”” is=”” too=”” much.=”” so=”” <span=”” class=”hiddenGrammarError” pre=”So ” data-mce-bogus=”1″>i’m asking for a little mercy on this one. Thank you 🙂

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