Cheri Fuller is the best-selling author of "What a Son Needs From His Mom," which is mean to be a helpful, faith-based guide to helping mothers strengthen their relationships with their sons. She is the mother of two boys and one girl and a grandmother of six. Fuller spoke with The Christian Post about the importance of raising a faithful son and the influence a mother can have on her son.
The Christian Post: Where did you get the idea for this book?
Fuller: The idea came from my experience of having raised two sons and having grown up with girls; I grew up surrounded by girls and my brother was six years younger than me. It was a big learning curve to be a parent to boys, and I think the more we understand our sons, the better bond we can have. My mission has been about building families and helping moms and dads unlock their children's learning potential and raising faith-filled children. This book certainly fulfills that mission.
I taught high school, have grandkids and am able to see the big picture, which is to raise our children to leave us. I've talked to many, many mothers as I speak at different conferences, and nurturing is easy for most moms. The harder part is letting go. Our whole thing is that we're supposed to be preparing our kids for flight.
CP: Is it based on any of your own personal experiences or struggles raising two boys?
Fuller: I share stories from the very first chapter about when our oldest son, when he was barely two and disappeared. He couldn't be found in the house, and it turned out that he was actually out on the roof. His "roof adventure" was one of the first experiences on our long journey of raising boys. It's very rewarding to raise boys, and the more we truly understand what they go through as they grow from little boys to young men, the greater the reward.
CP: How important is it to raise a son in a godly way?
Fuller: One of the needs a son has is to build foundations of faith, and that doesn't mean to micro-manage his faith. I think it takes a lot of faith and grace to raise our children. We're the ones laying the foundation through reading the Word as a family, not just delegating the teaching to the church, talking about God throughout the day, and praying as a natural response to life. Sometimes our older sons, but especially little ones, they come and tell mom about any problems they might have. It's a good opportunity to listen and pray and lift that burden to the Lord, not in a big religious way, but in a natural way. It's a wonderful moment of connection between mother, son, and God.
Another important aspect of parenting is knowing that we're not capable, in and of ourselves, of producing a perfect Christian or follower of Christ, but that God will use everything we do to draw our sons unto Him. He'll use the home, the church we go to … we're really not in charge of the outcome. Mothers put a lot of pressure on themselves for the result (I want him to be this, do that). We really don't have control of that. The one thing we can do is pray, which lays the tracks for God's power to come into their lives. Today moms are so busy living fast-forward lives, and it's very easy to leave prayer out of the equation, but that's our greatest influence. The truth is that God has picked you out of all the mothers in the world to be this boy's mother, and God will give you grace.
CP: How important do you see a mother's influence on her son?
A mom can feel somewhat under-qualified when raising a boy because he's the opposite sex. This book is for moms, no matter what age their sons are. There's a lot written about a father's influence, and this book is specifically for a mother. The truth is, first of all, that moms make an indelible imprint on their sons through nurturing in the early years. It makes an emotional and cognitive influence in the first few years, which is a foundation for their sons' relationships for the rest of their lives. The place of safety and home that a mother keeps provides the courage that boys need to go out, explore and grow. Moms are the ones who provide the sense of home; if the boys have that, they will go out and do what they're supposed to do.
One big goal for a mother is to be her son's greatest encourager and not a critical person; the critical mom produces a son who feels inadequate all the time. The overprotective mom produces a son who feels needy. Instead, she needs to be an encourager, and she'll produce a son who will have courage for the rest of his life.
Research shows that from Kindergarten to senior year, kids will hear over 10,000 negative things about themselves. Moms have the power to moderate that with the real encouragement that they give, with words of affirmation and love, and noticing what they're doing and being tuned in. A mom is the primary person who teaches a boy how to manage his emotions for the rest of his life. It's the real role of a mother-moms really do make an imprint on their sons.
I do think it's important for moms to develop confidence in their boys. One mother specifically taught her son to make good decisions through encouragement. She gave him options and, when he had a problem, helped him think it through instead of solving the problem for him. There are just so many ways that we can develop confident sons. Raising a confident, courageous boy requires letting them make mistakes and entrusting them to God every day. It helps us to have a healthier parenting relationship because we remember that if we're good moms and doing the best for our sons, we're going to work ourselves out of a job.
To learn more about Cheri Fuller and her work, visit www.cherifuller.com.