Being a boy momma takes a blend of strength and grace, grit and wisdom. When they are young and snuggled in the laps of their mothers for another bedtime story, they adore her . . . and they wonder why they can’t just marry Mom when they grow up.

She can kiss away the booboos.
She can make everything better with an ice cream cone and a hug.
And she can chase away the bad dreams with a lullaby and a prayer.

To go with the muddy footprints in the kitchen, there are puppies, baseball games, golf balls, insect books, and Hot Wheels cars in your purse. Life, it seems, will always be filled with boyish antics and laughter.

But soon, in a blink, the boys we’ve been mothering will become men. It’s our job as mothers to train them well for the task. The boy on your lap must one day lead a family of his own, work hard to provide for them, and learn to be spiritually strong in a world that will constantly tempt him to compromise.

How, as mothers, do we plant those seeds in the hearts of our boys?

1. Pray. Pray daily for the hearts of your boys. Join a Moms in Prayer International group. Gather at least one other mom and pray together. Pray for their daily needs, for their future, for their emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, for their education, their career, and their future spouse. Your son will need the heart of a warrior. He needs his mother to do battle as a prayer warrior for him each day.

2. Teach your son God’s Word. My friend Dinah used to say, “It’s better to pay your children for learning Scripture than for doing chores.” Speak of God’s Word throughout the day — in conversation, during teachable moments, in pointing out God’s creation while on a walk, at the park, or on a bike ride.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

3. Give yourself and your child grace. Boys need discipline and a healthy reverence for God and respect for their parents. Don’t get me wrong, they also need plenty of grace as they grow, learn, explore, and make mistakes. They need to be able to learn about the beauty of forgiveness and redemption. Let them know that nothing can separate them from the love of God through Jesus . . . and nothing can make you stop loving them either. A person who knows he is loved can accomplish anything.

4. Listen to their stories. Let them make you laugh, and laugh often. Enjoy your sons. They will want to impress you with their outrageous stories. Let them. Soak it in, for it is the way a boy gives his heart, and it is an honor to be the one he wants to tell his stories to. Be available to listen when he wants to talk, without judgment. Make your home a safe haven for your son and his friends.

5. Respect him. Men feel honored and loved when they are respected. Boys are the same. As a mother, and an authority figure in your son’s life, it’s important to remember that he needs to be treated with respect when speaking to or about him.

6. Give your son a vision of what it looks like to be a godly man. Boys are visual and they respond well to what they can see. Paint them a word picture when you are speaking (In as few words as possible! Boys have a limit!), building in them a vision of the kinds of qualities they will need to be protectors and providers one day. Point those qualities out when you see them in your spouse, coach, pastor, teacher, or in another godly man in their lives.

Some of the most precious times in my life have happened around my kitchen table with my boys. I have learned the most important lessons about grace and love from my sons and their friends, simply while listening to their stories and being there when they needed a word of truth and encouragement. They taught me never to underestimate the importance of building a relationship before trying to teach, shape, or mold a heart.

And, quite truthfully, I think they’ve taught me much more than I’ve ever taught them.