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Raising Sons To Be Good Men With Kara Lewis

If you’re a mom of a boy – you are well aware that there is no manual that can possibly prepare you for the unique joys and challenges of raising a son.

And when they hit the tween and teen years there are a lot of changes – you may be finding your once sweet, affectionate son is beginning to pull away, they may talk less and not include you in how they’re doing.

Or they may resist your advice. You may be finding it difficult to know how to connect with them and support them when they’re struggling.

Kara Lewis, the founder of TheJoysofBoys.com, celebrates the little men in her life and has now grown into a resource that connects parents of boys with family-focused activities, parenting advice, and support to help them to connect and communicate with their sons to bring out the best in them. She has a lot of experience as the lucky mom of four boys. She also has published two journals, A Mother and Her Son: A Shared Journal Adventure and A Father and His Son: A Shared Journal Adventure.  These journals help parents connect with their sons in a fun way.

If you’re a momma of a boy, you should give this episode a listen!

Scroll down to read the full episode transcribed, if you don’t have time.

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Where to find Kara Lewis:

Kara’s FREE GUIDE: Get Your Son To Listen – A Guide to Effectively Communicating and Connecting with Your Son
Workshop: Confident Mothers/Thriving Sons
Website: TheJoysofBoys.com
Kara’s FB – The Joys of Boys
Kara’s Instagram – The Joys of My Boys
Email: [email protected]

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Sheryl also has an Inner Circle Weekly Parenting Program with a community of like-minded moms, personal coaching, and tons of resources to equip and support you to love well, navigate the challenges and meet your tween and teen’s unique needs during these pivotal years.

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And here is the episode typed out!

Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. If some days you doubt yourself and you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve ugly cried alone in your bedroom because you felt like you’re failing. Well, I just want to let you know you are not alone and you have come to the right place.

Raising tweens and teens in today’s world is not easy, and I am on a mission to equip you to love well and raise emotionally healthy tweens and teens that thrive. I believe that moms are heroes, and we have the power to transform our family and to impact future generations. If you are looking for answers, encouragement, and becoming more of the mom and woman you want to be, welcome. I am Sheryl Gould, and I am so glad that you are here. 

SHERYL: Hello everybody and welcome. We are so excited that you’re here. And if you are raising sons to be young men, you are going to be so happy that you joined us today. It’s a privilege to have Kara Lewis here who is a lucky mom of four boys. I know that we are going to learn so much from being with you today. And I want you to share Kara, a little bit more about yourself.

KARA: Back in 2011, I found out that I was having my fourth son. I remember those days off I was actually on bed rest, and I was laying there thinking, “Okay, I’m going to be a mom of boys forever.” I was not planning on having any more children, and so I actually went online. I started looking for resource resources for moms of boys. I went to Facebook and looked for groups, but there wasn’t a lot of support at that time. And so I just had this crazy idea of, well, maybe I should just start the group, start the community, and share some of the things I’m doing with my boys.

Because if I was looking for support, I knew that there are other moms out there that were looking for support. Over the past eight years or so the community has just grown. We have a wonderful place for moms to come, sometimes vent, but also just celebrate raising sons. There’s a lot of negative things that come in terms of assumptions people make about sons.

Being able to just come together, support each other, raise each other up, and really work on raising our boys to be the best men they can be is it’s been a really fun adventure.

SHERYL: I love that. And I love that you created what you needed at the time, out of that desire to have that kind of support. And then you created that for other moms, which I think it is so important that we can do that.

I found you on Instagram and I was looking for somebody that was talking about raising sons. I was thrilled and reached out to you because moms are always asking me for more boy articles. Our blog posts about raising sons are our most popular posts. So I’m thrilled to have you here.

When you talk about the negative assumptions, you even wrote a blog post called “Yes, I am raising boys and no I’m not sorry.” I was like, “Oh my gosh, and then I thought about the things that I’ve said to moms when they tell me they have like three boys anything over two, I mean twos a lot too, but I go “Wow, you know that you’ve got your hands full.”

And so what are some of those assumptions that parents make when you’re raising four boys?

KARA: Well, I think most of the time people say things innocently. I’m sure the moms raising all girls get the same similar types of comments. But I think the main one that really got to me is when my boys were young, I’d always have them with me when we go places.

Now that they’re older, I don’t always have to take them everywhere. But you know, having four little boys in the grocery store at the same time, just the comments from people a lot, mostly it was, “I’m sorry.” That’s where that blog post came out of because people coming up to you and seeing you have boys and saying, “I’m sorry,” in front of your children and I’m like, “No, I love these boys.” Like, this is my life.

That would really hurt when people would say things like that. I do have some friends who have had worse comments made to them about having an abortion or things like that. I don’t think that’s the norm.

I do think that people just kind of say things without thinking, the main one people get is, “So when are you going to try for your girl? When are you gonna have a girl as if having all sons doesn’t make your family complete, in a way.

So now that my boys are getting older, I don’t hear that comment as much as my youngest is eight. And I’m not planning on having any more children. I think people realize that, but I think that we just need to take a minute and think about what we say to people in regards to their families. And I know it’s not just when it comes to raising boys, but also any parent, like couples that have no children, or I think we just kind of say things without thinking sometimes.

SHERYL: Yeah, we label don’t we. No matter if it’s even raising boys, or it’s labeling in some other way.

I want to quote you about each of your boys, you said, “Nearly 17 years of raising boys has taught me that even though I have four boys, the way I connect and communicate with each of them is so different.” And then you share how to connect with your son, get him to listen without yelling and frustration, and how to get them to listen.

So tell us a little bit about what the three emotional needs of our boys are that drive their behavior and about what are some of the ways that you’ve seen your sons are really different?

KARA: I think when it comes to boys, we have this assumption that they’re all the same. They’re all rough, tumble, and very aggressive. And what I found raising four sons is they couldn’t all be more different.

My oldest son is very much an introvert, but he’s also very stubborn. I have my second son who would do whatever I asked him anytime, like, very easy going. But then he’s very high anxiety because he wants you to know, he works really hard for grades and everything has to be perfect. So it’s really interesting to see these different personalities.

And I have my third son who came along, and he is my only real extrovert who would talk to anyone and go anywhere with anybody. And when he was younger, I had to really keep an eye on him because he really would go anywhere with anyone.

What I found is we have this assumption that, “Oh, all boys are the same.” You know, all boys are athletic. And that’s not true. There’s so many boys that don’t like sports, and they don’t want to be down on the ground wrestling.

One son that I mentioned, that’s more of an introvert — he’s a big boy. So growing up, everyone wanted him on their football teams, and he didn’t have any desire for that. It wasn’t something that he wanted to do. So being able to look at each of our individual children, and finding how we can connect with them on their terms. You know, what are the things that they like? How do they communicate?

One of my boys, it’s a matter of, “Okay, if I could tell he’s upset, I have to ask him, do you want to go on a drive?” And he’ll want to go on a drive because boys tend to open up more when they’re side by side with you, instead of looking at you across the table face to face. And so, learning what works and what doesn’t with each of them is so important.

SHERYL: Wow. What was that like for you? I’m so curious about your process of having these different boys.

KARA: Well, my first son, he was very stubborn. So ages four to I don’t even know probably now. But those earlier years were really difficult. And I have a lot of moms come to me and say, “My son doesn’t listen, he just screams and yells. He’s just so hard.”

I just remember this moment that I had with him. And it was a very difficult moment. I was upset, he wasn’t, we were all upset. And I’d been yelling and was frustrated. And I looked in his eyes. And I saw this little boy, who was just unable to express what he was feeling. At that moment, I said, okay, we’ve got to do something different, and so that’s when I started realizing and learning more about the things that drive behavior and the things that cause them to react in certain ways.

Once I learned to dig deep and discover the why behind his behavior, and what needs were not being met, then everything started to change for us. So with him, I learned that he has a bit of anxiety. So if we were to go to a new place, he would literally not go in the building. He would stand outside, or you’d sit in the car. You couldn’t physically force him to go into a building. Or if people came over to our home that he wasn’t expecting, he would react in these big emotions.

Once I realized that with him, I was able to start to prep him in advance like, okay, this is what’s going to be happening, this is where we’re going and this is who will be there. Eventually, he did kind of outgrow this, but during those early ages, it was very difficult because I had other younger boys I’m trying to take care of that didn’t have these same emotional reactions to things as he did.

But he was the one that needed me right then at that moment. And so even now, he’s almost 17, and I’ve realized I really do have to still kind of prep him for things.

We just moved a couple years ago, so began again, like you’re going to be in a new school and it’s a lot larger than it was. It’s just prepping them for what they’re going to be going into. And some of my boys don’t need that. My third son could go anywhere, anytime, and he’s fine.

So just recognizing their individual personalities does take some time. And it does take a little bit of patience, a lot of patience, and practice You won’t always get it right. I mean, I don’t always get it right. There’s still moments of frustration and moments of yelling, and then coming back to myself and saying, “Okay, let’s take a step back, dig deeper, what’s really going on here? And let’s address the root of the problem instead of the behavior.”

SHERYL: I love that. I clicked on being a student of your child and being curious about what are they really needing underneath that? And you also talk about how we’re tempted to want to fix our kids. Can you talk to the moms a little bit about that?

KARA: Yes. One thing that I’ve found is parents will come in and ask me questions about this behavior and say, “Well, I just need to fix this.”

And what I have them do is I actually have them start by looking at themselves. So look at yourself, what are they always start saying? So what are the key innate qualities that you have as a person.

I know for a fact that I am a little bit of an anxious person, like, that’s something that’s not going away. It’s not something that someone can just say, “Okay, get over it, and change.” That’s kind of who I am. And it’s something I’ve learned to work with and deal with. And that’s who I am. Some moms might be a little more prone to anger or just these different qualities.

Whatever it is acknowledging that that’s who you are in the first step, and then observing your son and doing that same exercise with him. So who is he deep down, and you’re not going to change that.

So my son, like I mentioned, is kind of stubborn. I can’t change that. But I have learned to talk to him in a way that makes everything kind of his idea and has helped us really solve problems because he does it on his terms. But things still get done. I can’t change that. I can’t take that out of him. I just need to help him learn to reframe it in a positive way.

SHERYL: Yeah. Are you finding that now that you’re helping him to reframe it because I think that’s one of those labels that and you know, it’s true? I always say to my husband, “You’re so stubborn” and our one daughter is so strong, and she takes after you. But there’s a flip side to that. That stubbornness can really be a positive if it’s reframed and channeled into a positive direction. Have you seen that with your son? Even though he’s almost 17, they can be very resistant at that age, do you see some of that becoming more of a positive?

KARA: So I remember when he was younger, and I was dealing with a lot of those difficult behaviors, an older mom said to me, “Don’t worry, he’ll be a leader someday.” And I thought, “Okay, someday he’s going to use that stubbornness to be a leader.”

And as I’ve watched him grow, it’s so true in the fact that he doesn’t really get swayed by peer pressure. He just kind of does his own thing. He doesn’t feel like he has to change who he is. He’s very comfortable with who he is.

Now, he’ll be a junior this year. So we just have a lot of big life decisions coming up ahead of him. But he’s very good at deciding what he wants to do and just going for it now. I will kind of steer him a little bit and bring up ideas, but he doesn’t need a lot of it in terms of making sure the schoolwork is done. So that’s been done on his terms. He always gets things done. I guess I should say, you know, he’s very good at it. And if he needs to know something, he’ll research it, and do it. It might be the last second, but he does get it done.

SHERYL: Well, and you bring up a good point that when we’re not wired like our kids, that’s uncomfortable, like being a Type A person, then you have this kid that’s very different. And maybe not even a rule follower. One of my kids is not a people pleaser whatsoever. And I’m a recovering people-pleaser. And that was so uncomfortable. Because I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how can you not care about this?” You know, it brings up our own stuff.

So you’ve been able to work with him and your boys and see what they really need. And each of them being so different. So talk a little bit about the three things that our boys need that are unique to being a boy?

KARA: So there are three emotional needs that really kind of contribute to their behaviors. And if those needs aren’t being met, that’s when you might end up with behavioral problems, or just them doing things that you’re like, well, what was he thinking?

So one of those needs is the need for experience. So our boys have this need to do things. They have this body, they want to experience things. So that’s why you might see them climbing a high tree, trying to jump off of something. As they get older, their need for experience gets a little more dangerous. You know, maybe going and jumping off cliffs and things like that. And they have this body that they want to use. So when we see our younger boys doing these things, and we’ve told them not to, and we question why did they keep wanting to do this?

Just remember, they have these needs for experience. And so when we can recognize that, we can find ways to fill that need that might be safer or help them to use their curiosity in a better way. So they’re not getting hurt. I mean last year, we had seven broken bones.

SHERYL: Oh, my gosh.

KARA: One was from my son Walker

SHERYL: No wonder you’re anxious.

KARA: (HAHA) I know, I know. When it comes to that anxiety, I’ve really had to pull back and try not to get them to not want to do things because I will be like, “Oh, no, I don’t want to be the helicopter mom that doesn’t let them do anything because of my anxiety.” Because they don’t have that same anxiety.

So if I can find creative ways to help them still have these needs for experience, then they’re less likely to try to do these dangerous things. I do have that need for adventure. So maybe you’ve told your son quit jumping on the couch, you know, over and over and over and they’re still doing it. Well, taking that moment saying, “Well, you can’t jump on the couch. But here are some things you can do.” You know, you can jump on the trampoline. You’re giving them these other options.

SHERYL: Rather than just say no.

KARA: Right. So they still have that need to do something. So if you have a younger kid who’s coloring on a wall to see what happens. I had a nephew who dumped everything in the toilet, you know, “Okay, you can’t do that. But you can color on this thing.”

So it’s the same when our boys get older, you know, they might not understand why we’re saying they can’t go with their friends in the middle of the night and race down the street. But tell them, “Yeah, we can’t do this. But here’s some options of things you can do, tomorrow or whatever.”

So it’s recognizing they have that need for adrenaline. Some boys actually feel that need through video games. And so they might not go out and do actual physical things, but they might kind of get this addiction to their video games because they get that same type of thrill. So if they’re playing video games, maybe offer to take them to ride go-karts, or something like that to give them that same type of experience — that same thrill of winning, but in a little more positive environment where they’re not completely glued to a screen.

SHERYL: I love that. So replacing that gaming to something that’s still going to give them that thrill, like the go-kart racing.

KARA: Exactly because boy, they have that need for competition. So finding a way to fill that need in a more positive way.

So another one is the need for attention and connection.  Sometimes you might not think that our boys need this as much as a daughter because, I don’t want to make an assumption, some boys are definitely more affectionate than others. But when you have a son, who you go to hug, and it’s just the stiff arm, you might think they don’t need that attention or connection. But they still need it and to feel that you are there for them. And you can do that. And just in simple ways.

So some of that is just, you know, you can spend one-on-one time, and when you have several children, this can be really difficult to do this every single day. But it might just be a matter of, the first three minutes when they wake up, just talking to them and getting them kind of emotionally ready for whatever is ahead in that day.

Then the three minutes when they either get back from school or you get home from work, just kind of checking in again, during those three minutes.

The three minutes before bedtime be focused on being intentional during that time, and then you don’t have to feel like “Oh, we didn’t go on this big adventure. So I’m not getting my one on one time with my son.” But really, if you’re just spending those little bits of time throughout the day, then when you do plan a bigger thing, that’s just an extra special thing you can do.

Another way to really build that connection is to let them teach you something. I know a lot of moms say all my son wants to do is talk about Minecraft, and I don’t know anything about Minecraft. But if you can sit through your son talking to you about Minecraft and ask him to show you how it works. That is a really great way to connect with him because it’s showing that you’re interested in what he’s interested in.

And when you can, I think as parents, we’re kind of always the teacher. But when we can swap roles and let our son teach us something they’re interested in, that really does help to build that connection and realize that you are giving them that one-on-one attention that they’re craving.

Another one if you have a stubborn child. So they will also have this need for power and independence. And so you might think, oh, but I can’t let my son have all this power because he won’t listen or whatever it is. But if you think about being a parent, we tell our kids what they can do each and every day. We tell them what to eat a lot of the time, tell them what to do, how to dress, and when they can go places when they can’t. And we’re always kind of taking away that power and telling them what they can do.

So our boys really do have this desire to be independent. And this starts when they’re younger. This is when you have tantrums with a two year old because they’re playing with toys and you tell them they have to go to bed and they don’t want to go to bed. As our boys get older, it might be saying, “You need to do your homework and not just play video games.” And that might be where they get upset.

So when it comes to this need for power, we need to find little ways that we can let them come up with solutions to problems.

One of the ways that you can do that is first to acknowledge what they’re feeling. So if your son is playing video games, and he’s in the middle of a game, just acknowledge that you can tell they really enjoy playing video games. You can mention some strengths that you can see in him and connect with him. Then, if he’s been playing video games and not doing his homework or his chores, you can say, “I really want you to have this chance to play video games because I can see that you really enjoy that. We all need to do things that we enjoy. However, you also have these responsibilities that you need to take care of. So, what solution do you have, so that you are still going to have time to play video games, but you’ll still get your homework and your responsibilities are taken care of.” Then be willing to listen and see what they come up with.

In my home, we have an electronic contract. So they know the rules we have for electronics, and then also let them come up with their own consequences if they break those rules. That gives them power because they came up with a solution with you. They knew what the consequences were. If they break those rules or don’t follow through the consequences, they can’t be mad at you because they already knew what was going into it.

Giving them that little bit of power will really help with a lot of the behavioral issues that you might be dealing with. As parents, it can be kind of hard to sit back and let them kind of come up with solutions. And I’m not saying just let them choose whatever they want. But talk with them, come up with a compromise, and come up with something that works for both of you. And if they do come up with a solution that you’re like, “I’m not sure that’s going to work,” then that’s when you can say, “Okay, we’re going to try this for one week. And after one week, we’ll come back and reevaluate.”

SHERYL: I love that. I don’t know if the moms listening are going to agree with me, but there’s something about sometimes parenting that feels like we have to get it right the first time and like, have it written in stone rather than we’re going to try this for a week or a couple of days, and we’ll reevaluate and see how it works.

I love that you have them write down their consequences, too, and come up with those because then they’re gonna be mad at you and buy-in with whatever is agreed upon, and you’re giving them that positive power. And you have so many resources on your website. I was looking, I was like, I mean, moms, you got to check out her website, all kinds of ideas to connect. What are some of your “Top Best Seller” ideas on your site?

KARA: Well, when it comes to maybe younger boys, like seven to 12, these journals are really great because there are questions for moms to fill out. And then it’s a question for sons to fill out. So as they go throughout this book, it’s like if you could do anything in the world, with all the money, what would you do?

It’s really just a way to connect with your son to pass back and forth and get them to open up to you. It’s also great for writing skills because boys tend to not like writing. And so they kind of put that off in terms of school, but this is just a way to connect with your son. So you could even just, pass it back and forth, put it on their pillow. Then, they answer a question, and put it on your pillow, and you answer a question.

It’s a way to kind of get into their brain a little bit without them having to sit face to face and have conversations. So those are fun words. It’s the mother and her son – a shared journal adventure.

Then, I just published a father and his son because I have a lot of requests for something for the boys to write back and forth. I will disagree you can.

I do have a new resource. So in my Moms of Boys Facebook community, I had a mom who posted a question. It said something along the lines of my son never listens to me, can anyone relate? And we had over 800 comments from moms who were struggling to get their son to listen to them. So I’ve put together a couple resources for them. I have a get your son to listen guide and how to get your son to listen without yelling guide.

And then I put together a workshop for moms that actually want to take some of these concepts and really put them into action. Some of these things when you’re not raised with maybe positive parenting techniques and those sort of things, it can be kind of hard to make that switch when you realize yelling or spanking aren’t working.

I need help in switching my mindset into what can work. And so that’s what this workshop is, it’s called “Confident Mother’s, Thriving Sons.” It’s helping moms find confidence in their abilities to raise the good son, help bring out his strengths, and help him to thrive through the ways that you communicate with him and solve problems together.

SHERYL: Yes, that’s good because we need support and hand-holding when you’re trying to do things differently. And we’re hardwired for a certain way, or we didn’t grow up learning how to do that.

KARA: That can be found at the joysofboys.com/thrivingsons workshop. We need those simple basics that can be really powerful when we put those into play. And a lot of it is just recognizing that there’s always a why behind a behavior. So once you can recognize that and start learning, it just kind of becomes second nature to stop and pause once you’ve learned how to do this and say, “Okay, what’s really going on here.”

If my son broke something because he was throwing a ball in the house, you know, I could run down there yelling and screaming and everything else, but that’s not going to fix the fact that something got broken. And he’s probably already feeling really, really bad. So if I can just pause for a moment and say, “What’s really going on here,” it kind of transforms my thoughts a little bit into helpful thoughts.

I always say, I can have positive thoughts when something like that happens, but it’s gonna have a helpful thought, like, how can we get through this and come up with a solution? Because if I go down yelling, and they start yelling, and everyone’s yelling, the things still broken, and your relationship might be damaged at that point a little bit.

SHERYL: I’ve never heard that before. It may not be a positive thought, but it can be helpful. It’s like you can’t make it positive when they break something. But what will be helpful right now?

KARA: Yes because I remember thinking, “Oh, I just don’t think negative I always think positive.” But I can’t do that. I recognize that. And so I think that’s part of understanding who you are as a mom as well. And maybe some people could find the positive in those kinds of situations, but I can’t. I have to recognize what’s helpful. What will help us get through this situation? And keep our relationship strong, too.

SHERYL: Yeah, absolutely. How do you get them to talk when they are mad over something?

KARA: I actually love this question because I’ve been noticing with my boys that we’ve had some really weird kind of behaviors or things that I’ve been getting upset. One of my boys was really upset a couple of months ago, and over something that seems so silly, and I just couldn’t figure this one out. It took me a minute.

And then once I started looking, and as I said, to kind of dig deeper and find out what the real problem was and why is he really upset about this silly thing. Our boys, their life is so upside down because of quarantine and school not being in all these things. So my son was upset about this thing that I thought was really silly.

But as I started to dig deeper, I realized, they got pulled out of school without any notice. It was like they went out Friday, and they didn’t go back. At this time, my son was my most social child. And so he was showing these behaviors that he was getting upset over the silliest things, when deep down what was really going on is he was emotionally not able to express what he was feeling with all these changes happening.

All they hear is talk of quarantine, viruses, and all these different things. So I think if we take a moment and just sit down and acknowledge what they’re feeling and say, “You’re really upset right now. I can tell you’re really upset.” So that they know that you’re not just blowing them off, I think that’s one of the biggest kinds of mistakes we can make by saying, “Oh you’re fine,” when they really are upset about something.

This goes for any age of our children, if you can actually connect with them in that way and show empathy, they are much more likely to stop whatever the behavior is and calm down a lot more quickly. And to open up to you about the situation because they know you’re not just going to blow them off.

So, the first step is just acknowledging, “Okay, you’re really upset. Even if it is silly, you know, you’re really upset about this. But let’s see if we can talk about it, or maybe you just need to go want to go to your room for a bit and we can talk about it later.”

Because boys don’t always want to talk. Like they don’t always want to talk at the moment. So sometimes it’s not as if they’re upset about something and they aren’t hurting anybody. Maybe it’s just a matter of needing some time alone to process it. And then before bed, maybe just say, “Hey, you’re really upset earlier? Is there anything I can do to help you?” or “Is there any way I can help you with this situation? Or have you come up with a solution?”

SHERYL: I like that. Being more inviting versus thinking something must be wrong and trying to get them to talk.

KARA: Yeah, I think as moms, we want to fix things. Like we mentioned earlier, we want to fix their problems. We love our children and we don’t want to see them sad or upset. But sometimes, you know, we forget that they’re human too. They have to express those emotions just like we would as adults. I have moments where I’m upset, and I don’t want to talk about it. You know, I just want to go on a walk or whatever it is, and our boys have those same types of emotions.

We kind of put them on this pedestal where we think, oh, they should be happy all the time. And we have to make sure that everything in their life is all roses when in reality, it’s not. And they’re going to have these negative experiences.

They’re going to have emotions they have to work through. So just being there and being supportive, even if we don’t understand, you know, what they’re going through or why they’re so upset about it.

SHERYL: I love that. Another question from a mom is “How do you get a 19-year-old boy with anxiety issues to see a therapist, straighten meds, and then take them? It is clear to us he needs help, but he distances from us more than before.”

So how would you encourage your son, if he’s got anxiety to see a therapist?

KARA: I think kind of going back to what we just mentioned, is just being very empathetic with them and expressing what you see in him. You can say, “I can see you’re anxious, I can see this.” And then just showing that empathy, like I’m here for you, I want the best for you, I want to help you.

Unfortunately, when they get to the certain ages, we can’t force them to go to therapy or force them and really, when you start looking at their behavior, and you start digging deeper, maybe the reason he doesn’t want to go to therapist is because he’s embarrassed. That might be part of it, and maybe helping to come to understand and to kind of normalize that this is something that’s a medical issue. If you’re sick, you go to a doctor.

Maybe he’d be more comfortable not being face to face with the therapist, but there are some online programs that might be more helpful for what he’s feeling.

It is difficult when they’re older because, as I said, you can’t necessarily force someone who’s essentially an adult to do something they don’t want to do.

Just showing that empathy and giving them some choices. If you came up with this other option, maybe he would speak to someone on the phone but doesn’t want to see them face to face, you know, that sort of thing. So kind of coming up with a few different options for him and then guiding him to make the choice for himself to have power over.

SHERYL: That’s so good. Yeah, giving him that positive power that he gets to choose, rather than trying to get him to see a therapist, which of course, we know, would probably
help him by allowing him to choose and make that decision. Thank you.

I work with moms so often that have a couple of boys, and they’re physically fighting all the time. And they’re wrestling, but usually, one gets hurt, one’s upset.

How have you dealt with that with having four boys, with the sibling fighting the wrestling with somebody getting hurt? Do you have rules around that?

KARA: I heard some advice a long time ago that was basically as long as someone’s not getting hurt, to let them work out their problems together. And so that’s what I typically try to do. We don’t get a ton of fighting, but we do get arguing. The thing that’s funny is now that my boys are getting close to the same size, we don’t have as much of the physical fighting because they can kind of defend themselves.

But what I’ve always done with my boys, and this is something I love about raising boys, is they don’t really hold grudges. They’re very physical, they get it out, and then they’re best friends again, five minutes later.

So if someone’s not getting hurt, what I do teach my boys, is if someone says stop, that means stop. So whether they’re just being silly, or whatever it is, if someone says stop, that’s the end of it. That just teaches them, even in the long run, if someone tells you to stop, that means stop.

If they are getting a little bit too rough, then that means you need to stop, and obviously, there are times where you have to step in. A lot of the times for me when we’re doing chores, or whatnot, I put them all in different rooms because if they’re together, there tends to be, “Oh, he’s not doing as much as me.”

But, in terms of them, being rough and roughhousing. No, that’s just part of who they are. It’s kind of really a neat thing and boys to kind of get rough and tumble with each other at least in some ways.

So I guess it depends on what your home rules are. You know, if you don’t allow that in your home, then okay, you guys go outside, wrestle around, whatever you need to do to get that energy out. But you can’t do it in the house. That’s one of those other things like you can’t do it here but you can do it there.

If it is getting more violent than that, you definitely would need to just step in and either just listen to each side of the story and see what’s going on, and then help them come up with a solution together.

SHERYL: Yeah, helping them to work through that conflict.

KARA: Yeah because a lot of the time if we jump in and just automatically assume one did it. So if we just assume that it was the one and when it’s not, you know, then that can cause problems as well. So just separate them and then listen to each side of the story and say, how are we going to fix this together?

SHERYL: Gosh, well so helpful.  Thank you, and it’s so nice to meet you and get to connect, and hear your wisdom about raising boys because it’s different, and how to how to support them to be those unique men that they are.

And so everybody check out her resources because we have so many different wonderful ideas on there for how to connect and improve our relationships. So yay. Thank you.

KARA: And I would just say one last word to your moms: Don’t be hard on yourself. Like we’re all in this together. And I know it can feel like you are a failure or we’re not doing enough. Don’t be hard on yourself as long as you’re trying to do good for your children each and every day and to love them in the ways that you can, then you’re doing the best you can do.

SHERYL: We need to hear that message. Thank you for ending on that note because I think ah, we’re so hard on ourselves. And we need to take that in. So thank you. All right. Well, have a great day, and thanks so much.

KARA: We’ll talk soon. Okay, great. Thank you, everybody.

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