Raising Boys to Men

According to FM100’s Rebecca Cressman, you get creative… and dirty! As a mother of three sons, she shares tried and true techniques to help raise boys to men.

One by one and three in a row, I became the mother of all boys. I bought Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs to build their imaginations. I filled their toy shelf with FI Joes and Barbie Dolls of every ethnicity, banned all weapon-inspired toys, and read them wonderful stories every night. I also limited their TV and computer use to strictly educational programs. I even bought a plastic play kitchen center and scooted it into the corner of the playroom so they’d be well rounded. I admit it. I had watched too many episodes of the “Six Million Dollar Man” as a child and now adopted the role of a modern scientist trying to engineer something I’ll refer to the “uber-male” – confident, cultured and creative. But my mad science project unraveled pretty quickly. The boys used Tinker Toys as swords. Lincoln Logs as hammer and banged the kitchen pots and pans together like cymbals in a drum set. I remember trying to convince my 3-year old, Parker, that he could be less aggressive by controlling his actions with his thoughts. First. I asked him to think real hard first before he ever decided to bash his big brother with a book again. Parker grew real quiet in his car sear. “Mom,” he said thoughtfully, “I think I need a new brain. This one just thinks rough and tough thoughts.”

Well, the truth is, over the last 20 years, I’ve learned a lot from my bous and form childhood experts that have studies the journey from boyhood to manhood. Just for the record, my sons aren’t perfect and I’m still learning how to mother each of them. But here are a few of my thoughts on how raise boys to men.

Masculinity 101

Did you know that boys in every culture test each other to prove common themes like masculinity, strength and stoicism? So, don’t be surprised to see boys challenge others to wrestle, to stick fight or to try trampoline triple twists and double-dog dares. The experts say it’s their way of passing the test of maleness. Try talking to your sons about the tests and help them keep it all in perspective.

The Y Chromosome

Simply put, women who raise boys should like them too. We want our sons to feel like we respect, enjoy and embrace their masculinity and their gender. That may mean that those of us how many have been hurt by men in our past man need to take an honest assessment of our feelings today, so that we don’t pass those negative perceptions of men onto our children.

Male Bonding

We all learn from imitation. Look for opportunities to have you sons rub elbows with men you esteem and men who share your values. Scouting, church activities, sports, and community service organization are filled with positive role models for our sons.

Boyhood Balance

Though I’ve thrown out the pursuit of engineering uber-males, I do believe in balancing the lives of my children so that they have a variety of peers and friends form different social groups. From elementary school on, I’ve encourages my boys to join both sports and music groups. They develop more than muscles and musical skills; they also develop a wide group of friends.

Play Ball & Banter

I believe wholeheartedly in play. It creates a chance for us to laugh, tease, wrestle and relate to our sons. Even more importantly, it creates the perfect playing field for conversations. But there are some rules to play by and the most important one is to listen without judging. That way they won’t feel that they have to hide things from you in the future. So, grab that basketball, a baseball or the Xbox controller and have some fun with your sons. You never know when it may pay off. My middle son came home from high school basketball the other day and told me that one of the players had praised his rebound. He looked and me and smiled and said, “You should have seen the look on his face when I told him I learned it from my Mom.”

Rebecca Cressman co-hosts “The FM100 Morning Show” with Brian Foxx and hosts the public affairs interview program “Utah Weekly Forum”. She’s an experienced journalist who has worked as a news director, anchor, and reporter in television and radio. She’s an avid reader, but has kept her pencil sharp documenting her honest and revealing reflections of life in her “Your voice” column for Wasatch Woman Magazine. She draws inspiration from one of her heroines, Erma Bombeck, who said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” She explores that thin line as host of the Emmy-Nominated bi-lingual television series “Living Essentials” for BYUTV. Foreign languages and cultures are close to her heart and a part of her Hispanic heritage. She’s fluent in Spanish and has lived throughout North, Central, and South America. Rebecca graduated from Brigham Young University in Communications in 1988 and studied for a Masters in Education in 1992.

Rebecca and her husband, Dale, have been married for more than 20 years. And together they’ve raised three busy teenage sons who share Rebecca’s sense of humor (Though the joke is usually on her). They also share her passion for music, sports, and, community involvement. So, when she’s not in the studio, she’s somewhere on the sidelines of a Spanish Fork High School track or swim meet, cheering at a soccer game, or in the bleachers of a basketball court or school auditorium. And, in all honesty, she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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