[Melinda Finch is a 30 something mother of two from Dyersburg, TN. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree from Tennessee State University. Follow Melinda @sillymi09]
Respecting women involves sensitivity to each woman as an individual. To truly respect a woman, a man must honor the woman holistically. In short, he must respect and honor her mind, her contribution, her spirituality, and her sensuality.
The very first female relationship in your son’s life is with his mother. Men tend to chose mates with similarities to their mother.
If you want your son to learn the skill of respect for women, you must demonstrate character and behaviors that are worthy of respect. It is best to lead through example.
Your son must see you respecting and honoring yourself. He has to know that you believe in something greater than yourself. So please feed your mind, contribute value, believe in the impossible, and love you—the whole you.
The Respect Skill Set for your Growing Man
Her Mind. Teach your son to explore her thoughts, aspirations, and values. Teach him to look for compatibility with his own thoughts, aspirations, and values. Value him. Teach him to value himself, and he will be able to notice and appreciate similar characteristics in a potential mate.
In the beginning, his goals will be simple; however, a person’s values expand and complicate throughout life. Your task is to instill sustainable values and guidelines for daily living while he is young. As he grows, the principles will continue to promote sustainable choices.
Her Contribution. Welcoming what she brings does not mean submission. It means communication and shared decision making. It means being willing to listen and potentially compromise.
Developing decision making skills and engaging in conversation with your son will teach him to create thoughts and communicate those thoughts. Teaching your son to negotiate, to respectfully disagree, to resolve conflict, and to compromise with you provides him with a secure pattern for the future.
Her Spirituality. A man also has to recognize a woman’s spirituality. Teach your son that there is something greater than him. This knowledge allows him an opportunity to humble himself. His power is to choose sustainably or unsustainably. Awareness of the woman’s faith, resilience, and promise promotes unity in the relationship.
Spirituality is a sensitive subject to most people. Faith provides your son with the ability to see past simple ideology and accept each person as an individual including his potential mate. Faith leads to resilience—the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. In order to be capable of recognizing his mate’s spirituality, your son must know spirituality. Your son must see and feel his power to make choices in his own life.
To teach this to your son, provide him with age appropriate choices. Discuss with him the positive and the negative outcomes, the pros and cons of each decision. Remind him of the lessons when the consequences are revealed. This is promise. Keep your promises, and also discuss with him the certainty that life’s choices have consequences. He can overcome mistakes, but he can also choose sustainably from the beginning.
Her Sensuality. A man must embrace a woman’s sensuality while revering her value. As your son loves, honors, and respects himself, he is able to do the same for his potential mate. Sensuality is expressed in the woman’s need for closeness and attention from the man. It is not enough for a man to submit to the indulgent whims of any woman. Teach your son to respect her needs by managing his own. Teach him to look for sustainability and complement in the closeness and attention of the woman. Sustainability is the idea that the relationship is building toward permanency and exclusivity. Complement is the idea that the relationship both helps him achieve his goals and her goals long-term.
Teach this to your son by engaging him in goal setting for himself and the household. If he is to be a contributor, require him to do his part. Discuss how his maintenance of his room, picking up around the house, washing dishes, folding laundry, etc. supports the functioning of the household. Demonstrate that WE win when we work together, each doing our part. Inspire goals beyond simple sexual gratification. Teach your son to responsibly build a household, to honor your legacy.
Note to Mothers about Boyfriends
If you have a boyfriend, make sure the relationship is building toward something, and maintain appropriate boundaries. Sons are protective of their mothers by nature. If he sees his mother choosing boyfriends that disrespect his mom, your son will be frustrated not knowing what is acceptable behavior in a relationship. Take care to introduce the authority of the boyfriend gradually as your relationship with him advances. Your son will consider himself the man of the house. After all, he has been with you longer and more consistently than any boyfriend.