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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 Thoughts on Raising Boys to be Men


10 Thoughts on Raising Boys to be Men- The Unlikely Homeschool

The other day while perusing the magazine rack of the hair salon waiting area, I stumbled upon a very popular parenting magazine and was intrigued by a headline on the cover.

In big, bold letters it read
Raising Boys to be Men
or something to that effect.

Of course as the mother of four boys, I immediately grabbed for the issue and flipped to the appropriate page. Not surprising, I was sorely disappointed in the suggestions given by "the experts." It was a disparaging look at society's attempts to raise gender neutral boys.  


I let out a deep sigh...saddened by the reality of what my young band of boys will face as they seek to grow into strong, Godly leaders of faith and family.  

As a mother whose oldest boy has barely graduated from training wheels, I realize that the verdict is still out on my parenting skills. Only time will tell whether I've done it right. But, if truth be told, I have THE TRUTH to guide me...the never-changing words and teachings of the very first Parent who has laid out some very clear advice on how to raise boys to be REAL men. And from His Word and by His example, I have formulated a few thoughts on what that should like in my home.  


10 Thoughts on Raising Boys to be Men- The Unlikely Homeschool

I encourage bold faith.

I want my boys to love God with abandon. To trust in Him and His plan above all else. To walk humbly behind Him knowing that in order to be a good leader, one must first be a faithful follower. One quick look around most church communities today shows a lack of bold men of faith. When it is time to read a passage of Scripture or pray aloud in a group setting, many men sheepishly defer to their wives. I want to raise spiritual leaders. Men who will boldly stand for Truth even if they have to stand alone.

I do this by helping my boys establish a habit of morning devotions and by providing opportunities for them to read Scripture out loud, pray in front of a group, and hear testimony of God's faithfulness in my life and the lives of others. More importantly however, I recognize that I can not be their Holy Spirit. I can not allow my constant voice to drown out the still, small One of the Savior. I have to acknowledge that God loves them much more than I do and has a perfect plan written just for them.

I foster relationships with Dad.

From the moment each one of my little guys took their first breath, they looked to me with undeniable adoration. I was the obvious FAVORITE. And why not? Wasn't I the one who kept their bellies full and their bottoms dry? But, around the time they each turned 18 months, I made attempts to begin shifting their adoring gaze towards my husband. Because after all, if you are hoping to build something, don't you need a blueprint that looks like the finished product?  



10 Thoughts on Raising Boys to be Men- The Unlikely Homeschool

I allow risk taking.

While at the park recently, I watched as my boys along with several of their friends scaled a very high chain-linked fence. In my peripheral view, I could see a rather anxious mother pushing a pink bundle in a stroller pleading for the boys to get down before they fell and hurt themselves. Under her breath, she replied, "Where are their mothers?"

Over here!!! I waved. And then continued to watch as the boys proceeded up the fence.

The fact of the matter is, our society has created such a padded, safe environment that boys are rarely ever given the opportunity to take a risk...a risk that might end in failure or in complete success. How can I expect my boys to attempt their life's purpose, if I never give them opportunities to take a risk and possibly fail...possibly fall? If I constantly hover over them? Because in truth, success almost always follows failure. I want my boys to know how to get back up and try again...to persevere. That lesson is best learned with risk-taking.

I lead lightly.

Boys, much like their adult counterparts, are hard-wired to be leaders. They have no desire to be henpecked by a nagging woman, especially mom. I obviously have been put in a place of authority in their lives, but I have to maintain that position delicately. I have to help them accept that although they want to LEAD, for a time, they must FOLLOW...a woman. This short season of submission can be eased by providing opportunity for each one of my boys to make decisions for themselves. Obviously, as mom, I have ultimate VETO power. But, unless their choice violates Scripture, goes against one of our house rules, or poses a real danger to themselves or others, I allow my boys to make decisions and face the consequences, whether good or bad.  


10 Thoughts on Raising Boys to be Men

I assign work and promote the use of real tools.

A brief glance at the annuls of American history shows boys as young as 7 and 8 hunting for food, earning money to help support their families, and even helping to defend their country in times of war. Now, I'm not saying that we should be sending our little guys off to military academy. However, I do think we, as a society, do not give children enough credit. When given the proper tools with the proper training, even boys as young as 3 and 4 can be given the chance to learn the satisfaction and blessing of responsibility and hard work.  

I embrace gender differences.

I don't force my boys to play with dolls or wear pink shirts simply because the mainstream opinion declares both to be gender neutral. Why? Because although I want my boys to form a healthy respect for and admiration of the gentler sex, I don't believe neutrality is the way to accomplish that. On the contrary, I think that gender differences should be embraced and encouraged. God created men and women to be different. Equal in worth and value. Equal in the eyes of their Creator. Equal in intelligence and importance. Equal BUT different.

10 Thoughts on Raising Boys to be Men- The Unlikely Homeschool

I insist upon chivalry.

As an adult woman, I am perfectly capable of carrying my own belongings. But, my entire family has a very clear understanding, as dictated by the Hubs...unless the boys' hands are full, momma should not be carrying anything. Groceries, library books, church bags...are all carried FIRST by the boys. Only when I see that there is an additional need for helping hands, do I step in to share the load. Obviously some tasks are too large or too heavy for little hands. But, my boys can carry something always...even if it is only a small portion of the whole.

In addition, when my boys see a lady approaching a door, they are expected to arrive to it first in order to hold it open for her. Recently, my oldest two boys began standing outside the main doors of our church on rainy Sundays greeting women curbside with an umbrella and escorting them to the safety of the dry entryway.

I want my boys to learn to care for the women that God has placed in their lives. I want them to champion the lost art of chivalry.

I cultivate tender spirits.

I pray my boys grow to be men who extend apologies and forgiveness easily. Men who admit mistakes. Men who swallow pride. Grateful men. Humble men. Loving men. Admittedly, none of this can be taught, only caught. And while I know I fail at setting an example of these tender qualities more often than I succeed, I pray that God in His loving kindness for my sons, can cultivate all of this in them despite my lack.   

10 Thoughts on Raising Boys to be Men- The Unlikely Homeschool

I applaud initiative.  

My scientist boy is always inventing little "helpful" and "handy" tools for making my life "easier". Not surprising, most of these contraptions require more work on my part than the manual labor it would take to get the job done WITHOUT the tool. Despite the obvious failure of many of his creations, I always affirm his willingness to TRY. My boys need to know that their attempts at maturity and invention, no matter how unsuccessful or small, will always be appreciated and valued. 

I work my way out of a job.

To the best of my ability, I teach my boys age-appropriate responsibility and then expect them to manage those tasks by themselves. I try never to do for them what they are fully capable of doing for themselves. Because as an adult although I can probably do all of those tasks better and more efficiently, I love my boys too much to cripple their chances for an independent adult life by doing everything for them and never giving them a chance to master those skills.

A final word...

I realize that to some, my attempts at nurturing my mini men to maturity seems harsh or perhaps unloving. I admit it is quite countercultural and definitely politically incorrect. But, in the end, I'm not trying to please others...certainly not the editors of the aforementioned magazine...I'm trying to please the Lord.

As I seek to raise loving husbands, patient fathers, and bold Christ-followers, I look to the words of King David, who although was less than perfect, is credited as being a man after God's own heart. On his death bed, when given the chance to give one last word of wisdom to his beloved son, Solomon, he said,

“I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ " 1 Kings 2:2-4


I am a mom of four boys. It is a high calling and a huge challenge that I do not take for granted. While in my selfishness and sometimes laziness I sometimes fail at my best laid plans, I am confident that God desires my boys to be men someday...REAL MEN...and He'll accomplish that with or without me. I'm honored and humbled that He has allowed me to be a part of the blueprint.

In addition to Scripture, my parenting has been influenced by the following books.

Some of my favorite resources written specifically to boys



Do you have boys?  How are you raising them to be men?

44 comments:

  1. Amen, Sister!!
    Thank you for sharing this - you are totally accurate in your attitude, and I applaud you for it. I pray God's continued blessings upon you and your parenting.
    I am a mother of 5 boys, and 1 girl(she's in the middle). We do most of what you have shared, and have talked about in the past few months, instilling the stuff you do but we don't. :) Life is so much smoother when you start all this at an early age(we've learned from our mistakes here)!
    Chilvary is really important to their marriages, I believe. It's one thing to respect their mama, it's another thing to treat females the right way. I'm thankful we have a daughter to teach the guys how to be gentle & respectful in their approach to women, & to understand it's okay that God wired girls differently.:)

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    1. That's one of the many reasons I'm thankful for my daughter too!

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  2. Wow. Just wow. You spoke my heart through and through. I tell my children (my girls too) that there is a difference between a Christian boy and a godly young man. Not only do I want my girls to find godly young men but I want to teach my son to be one. I love the whole post- the paragraph about chivalry goes to my heart. In our house we call it "being the man" (especially in his father's absence) and it is probably the most commented on "boat-rocking" part of how we're raising our son. My mother even commented once a few years ago "He's only 5. He can't be the man." I shared with her that he indeed could be. His shoulders are designed for responsibility and to lead, I want to foster that not damper it. A few months later, during the winter, my mom and my son were going off into the woods on their little utility vehicle (a gator) and my son grabbed a snow shovel and tossed it in the back of the vehicle. My mom asked him why and he said, "In case we get stuck." Well, long story short- they did get stuck and my almost six year old son who had the presence of mind to pack a shovel also dug them out. My mama right then and there saw the impact of our teaching our son to "be the man".
    Thank you for writing this post. It's straight up truth. And may God bless you above and beyond for following His lead in raising godly young men.

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    1. It sounds like you are raisin' that boy right. Kuddos to him for being such a big boy!

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  3. Awesome. I have 4 girls and only one boy so we've worked on some of these. I'm forwarding this to my husband and family. Thank you!

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  4. Thank you so much for this post!! You are able to so clearly annunciate everything I want for my son, and how I too want to lead him. You are a blessing to my household.

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    1. Elizabeth, what kind words. I'm so glad my thoughts resonated with you.

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  5. As a mom of four boys myself I truly enjoyed this post. I love hearing how other moms of boys are raising their sons. We have similar values although you are significantly more organized than I am. Kudos to you mama!
    Em

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  6. It's funny because I just picked up this same magazine from the library yesterday and was also very disappointed by that particular article. I was talking to my husband about it last night and we both agreed that society seems to have lost touch with how to actually raise/encourage the raising of young men. Of course, if you look to the Bible you will always find the answers you are seeking. It was a perfect reminder of where to look when seeking advice. My one and only son is only 4 but we are already working hard and doing some of the same things you do. God bless you on your journey and may we both turn out Godly young men when it is finished.

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    1. Glad I wasn't the only one who was disappointed with that article. 4 years old is the perfect time to start nurturing Godly manhood. Boys at that age are so eager to be BIG. I know my almost 4-year-old loves being given a big boy task.

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  7. You taught me a ton with this post, on a few levels. First, thank you for speaking your heart. I think I agree with about 80% of what you wrote (perhaps more) but what I love is that my respect for you as a blogger, homeschooler, and mother of boys did not decrease because I may see things (slightly) differently. I applaud your speaking from your heart, and that is giving me more courage to speak me heart.

    I also have 4 boys, each 2 years apart, and the oldest is almost 16...so I am coming to the point where I can see "what works" -- I'll tell you this much: I can see, very clearly, that working my way out of a job :) *works* as does promoting risk taking, and cultivating tender spirits. Everyone remarks about how sweet the boys are with each other, even as they are doing double back flips on the trampoline and doing other dare devil stunts anywhere they can...
    I also am very glad that they have a very strong relationship with their Dad, but I think for our family, that just happened without my direct control...he's just a really neat guy and loves spending time with them...but I see your point...
    Anyway, bottom line, I think I mostly agree with you, but the very idea that you wrote something from your heart is what I like best :) Take Care!

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    1. I love it when people can have differing views on things and still share a constructive dialogue. That's grace! Thank you for your encouragement and for your thoughts from a little further down the journey.

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  8. Hi Jamie. This post totally made me cry last night. I think I have been raising two heathens, with no respect or knowledge of what it means. I try to explain and show examples but sometimes it's just like talking to hamsters. They are 3 and 5 and I feel I have lost them, and most of all, I feel like a failure for not instilling this in them much sooner. I WANT to teach them these values but kind of lost at how to change OUR behavior (as parents) to teach them the proper way to grow and learn how to be a great man, the man God wants them to be.
    I loved this post!!! It is so powerful and well written, Jamie! I will forward to all the momma's I know about, especially that one homeschooling one with 5 boys. :)

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    1. Oh, Lynet. I'm so sorry to read of your difficulties. The good news is, it is never too late...for you or your boys. I think the key is to be consistent. No matter what your parenting beliefs or discipline/positive encouragement style is...it will only be successful with consistency.

      I would encourage you and your husband to sit down and evaluate what you ARE or maybe not teaching your boys. And then brainstorm what character qualities you'd like to develop in them. Brainstorm how you both can nurture those in each other and in your boys.

      But above all, pray that God would chase after your boys' hearts. Because in the end, no matter how much you do or say to try to nurture Godly manhood in your boys, it is all futile if their hearts are not surrender to Him.

      I'm praying that God will speak clearly to you and your husband during this season of parenting young boys.

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  9. You presented sound ways to teach boys to be men! I didn't know or do all of those things with my boys, so it is good for you to be saying these things for your generation to learn. (Perhaps you should write a book!) One thing you didn't mention, a quality more indirectly caught than taught, is how you treat your husband. When you honor and delight in your husband, you teach those boys that becoming a man is desirable. Your grateful attitude of appreciation toward your husband is HUGE in training those boys to be fine men!

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    1. I wholeheartedly agree! I want my boys AND my girl to see a strong, Biblical marriage. I pray they see a relationship built on Christ.

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  10. thank you for this -- i am going to read it again and again and again. it's funny, i was just telling one of my boys the other day that there are plenty of guys in this world, but what the Lord really needs is MEN. thank you again -- your site was just recommended to me and I can't wait to explore. katharine.

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    1. I see the word "homestead" in your name. I've been attempting a little bit of city homesteading the last 2 years. We have a postage stamp sized backyard but I've been getting creative to do what I can. Do you have a site? Blog?

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  11. Amen! I agree with your thoughts and appreciate that you are teaching your boys these things. I do not have children yet, but I definitely will be teaching them those things!

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  12. Love this! I have one 2-year-old son and there's not one point in this that I disagreed with! KUDOS and God Bless!

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  13. This is right on the money!! I have to young men and these points you've made in your post are some of the most important areas to include on raising boys to become Godly men. I will repost it to my twitter and facebook as you have a wonderful way in expressing these realities. We can't fall for the lies of articles like this one.

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  14. I have a five year old son, and raising him to be a godly young man who will one day be a husband and father is something I constantly think about. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I absolutely enjoyed reading this.

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  15. Love this!!! Most of these lists I see written by Christians are centered around guns. It's refreshing to see a list like yours. I completely agree. These are the same things we do with our 2 boys, who are 4 and almost 6.

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  16. This is brilliant! I am not a mother (I'm 15), but I hope I someday will be. My mom does the same thing with my brothers as you do with your boys. I especially enjoyed the part about chivalry, and I'm really glad you're encouraging it! God Bless you and your family.

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    1. Wow, Lizzie. I think it's great that you are beginning to gather ideas now. Kuddos to your mom for setting such a great example for you. Thanks for stopping.

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  17. I knew I was going to love this post when I first saw your G+ post, and I've been saving it until I got home to be able to read it properly. Woo hoo!

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  18. I especially like the encouraging bold faith (so so important), risk taking, and initiative portions. There are many days that I have to watch out of the corner of my eye when we're at the playground and they're climbing higher than I can reach! I have also gotten that "Where is your mother look?" when I'm not hovering. We also let them wrestle (I know many who don't), but the rules are: all parties must want to wrestle and you must respect when the other says they don't want to wrestle anymore...

    But, why wait until 18 months to encourage a close relationship with Dad? We have done that from day 1 with both our children and it has been wonderful. We were very lucky that my husband was able to take time off from work when both of our children were born. Other than breastfeeding, he handled most of the responsibilities in those early days- diaper changes, bath time, meal preparation etc. Bath time is still Daddy time... As primary caregiver/SAHM, I am still #1 in many ways (especially the middle of the night), but both my son and daughter have very close relationships with my husband and it's wonderful!

    I was also somewhat discouraged with the "I lead lightly" paragraph. First, no one likes to be henpecked- no one! And leading lightly is a skill everyone should learn. While you sometimes need to lead with your words, leading by example is certainly more powerful and lasting. But there is no reason that women cannot be strong leaders or that boys/men cannot follow. I'm always so discouraged when people think their are Biblical reasons that women cannot be leaders or can only lead small children. I'm not sure if this is your view or not, but that is the impression that I get from that paragraph. Leadership should be encouraged in everyone. Their natural leadership level will come through...

    I would never force or enforce anything "gender neutral", but I certainly don't discourage my 4 year old son when he is interested in anything considered "girl". It's a rare day he hears "That's just for girls.". And my almost 2 year old daughter loves her matchbox cars and trains. I think it's sad that society gets caught up in what's for boys and girls. I prefer to just encourage their natural curiosity and interests. More often than not, they choose what is considered normal for boys or for girls. But, I never want either of them to think "I can't be interested in that because it's only for boys or girls." Society will do that enough- they don't need to hear it from me.

    Keep on raising those boys to be men- its so important!

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    1. While I agree that everyone should develop strong leadership skills and as Scripture says, "be ready to answer to every man," I also think it is Biblical that the Husband maintain the role as head of the home...leader. (Eph. 5:23, 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and many more) That is not a position that many men walk into well. I want to start early with my boys so that they can transition to that God-given responsibility well.

      I completely agree about the boy/girl toys. My daughter loves Legos, building forts, playing cars, etc. and while most of my boys don't tend to choose "girl" toys to play with, they all have enjoyed playing Littlest Pet Shop and such WITH their sister. Unfortunately, the article I was referring to as well as a few others I have read suggested that readers INSIST that their boys play with "girl" toys to break the gender stigma of dolls, toy houses, etc. I don't feel it is necessary to FORCE anything. My boys are boys and just naturally prefer playing with "boy" toys. And that's fine by me.

      Thanks so much for your thoughts. I always welcome conversation, even if it differs from what I believe.

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  19. I think it's a testament to how far our society has shifted that anyone could even possibly get offended at this post! So very true. I particularly loved the part about leading lightly. I have two boys (16 months and a newborn) and I can already see my 16 month old wanting to be independent and do it himself and give me a "mama, honestly" look. I am encouraged to find a balance between knowing I am truly in authority and letting him leading strongly in his own way. Really loved this!

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    1. Thank you for that, Rachel! It is true. Our society has shifted a GREAT deal, hasn't it? I pray that my boys can be used to bring TRUTH to light again.

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  20. Thank you for sharing this with us all. It touches me, thank you.

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  21. Thank you for sharing this. I'm a mom of one son. I feel that your points are valid. God bless you.

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  22. Love this post! I have a 2 year old son and while I have been trying to do some of this you definitely gave me more I can work on and very much want to!! I realized the other day that not only do I need to teach my son but remind my husband about chivalry, lol. I want to raise my son (and in 3 weeks time or so my daughter...so excited) to be little men and women in Christ!!! Thank you for sharing this...I absolutely love your blog! :-)

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    1. I'm so glad it was an encouragement to you, Jessica! I pray your upcoming delivery goes well and that the transition from one to two little ones goes smoothly.

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  23. Thank you for your story. I really enjoyed reading it. I too am very disappointed when I read all the experts online. There is a new age fever that I myself don't prefer. There is a natural way to raising children that many people are ignoring based on all the expert advice. When I trust my heart, I raise my kids in much the same way you do. I have to tune out some of the new age advice that goes against what comes naturally. I have friends that believe boys should wear pink and play with dolls. I heard their story about why they thought this was a good idea and I guess, in theory, in kind of made sense, but unfortunately the boys proved to all of this that it was a stupid idea. They walked out into the world confused, and to make a long story short, it caused a lot of trouble in their lives. It's our job to help them learn about the world and dressing a boy in pink means we aren't doing our job. For now, this is not reality.
    I also like your take on giving them responsibility. Chores and carrying groceries, ect. This is good for their personality. As my kids aged they taught me that they needed this. They started acting disrespectful throwing their clothes around the house and making a big mess and walking away. When I started making them responsible for cleaning up they learned a lot and it made them better little people. They take pride in their work and it also wears out a little excess energy they always have building up. Anyway, just wanted to really thank you for sharing. I appreciate your ideas

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    1. It sounds like you have built a firm resolve about how to raise your kids. Good for you for teaching them responsibility early on.

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  24. Rhonda Stoppe has a wonderful book by this title that I highly recommend

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  25. I absolutely love this article. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  26. I hope the man my daughter eventually gets married to has a momma like you raising him right now. (She's only 11 :-)) How beautiful are the plans and designs God made for each gender, and how blessed children are when parents recognize that.

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