A positive impact: the connection between a mother and her son
From the time a boy is born, his relationship with his mother forms one of the most powerful and important bonds he will encounter in his lifetime. Creating an environment in which your son feels safe to grow, and fall, is paramount to his learning, development and overall wellbeing. By fostering a positive relationship with your son, you give him the greatest chance of growing up to be the best that he can be.
I often rely on four symbolic characters to remind me of the qualities I can bring to my relationship with my son, to assist him to develop the social and emotional skills required to navigate successfully through school and life. These characters are the magician, the sage, the warrior and the caregiver.
Magician | be actively involved in his learning
Create experiences and take a vested interest in your son’s education. Ask open-ended questions about what he is learning at school. Share a novel with him, watch him practise his instrument, help him set his goals, let him show you how he solves a maths problem. Encourage your son to take risks and to understand that we all learn from our mistakes. Let him see you make mistakes; this helps him to understand that it is all a part of the learning process. Challenge him to think differently about tricky situations, looking for win-wins. Help him develop empathy to really understand himself and those around him so he can find creative solutions in his life. By nurturing your son’s creativity, you are providing an environment in which he gains the tools he needs to deal with the rises and falls of everyday life.
Sage | be the bearer of wisdom
Find the time (and refine the art of choosing the right time) to talk with your son: ask him questions, listen to his responses, gauge his body language and, where necessary, give him space. Share your own successes and failures – these are a part of the journey in shaping who we become. Having an honest relationship with your son from an early age makes him emotionally stronger.
Warrior | create clear and firm boundaries
Inherently, boys try to push boundaries. Although it can be tough, you need to be firm with your son. It is your job to set the rules. In the long run, he will respect you for setting appropriate parameters – but, in the meantime, expect some setbacks, pushback and the odd temper tantrum. This is all part of your son learning to express himself and communicate with you – whether he is three or thirteen! Discuss with him why you set boundaries and their relevance; this provides him with clarity and a sense of security.
Caregiver | play, protect and nurture
Recognise the importance and value of your bond with your son by being present and available, open and non-judgemental. Teach him to be kind and respectful. You are his role model. Show him that it is okay to be sensitive, that it is sometimes good to cry. Instilling these qualities in your son teaches him that being ‘manly’ does not necessarily mean being macho.
The bond shared between a mother and son is precious and to be protected. It is essential in determining the way your son grows and develops. So, this Mothers’ Day, celebrate the boy you are helping to shape and take some time to reflect on who he is becoming.
Emily Beaton is a Melbourne-based primary teacher, with a particular interest in boys’ education and the mother of two children, a boy and a girl. This article is about Parenting
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