In the first post of this series, we talked to Trevor Lawrence’s mother Amanda Lawrence. If you missed it, be sure to look back through my posts to catch it. Such great insight and wisdom.
Today is Hayden Betsil. I actually know Hayden. I had the pleasure of being his teacher. Because I worked with teens every day for several years, I love a TON of them. I mean seriously, LOVE. And I am proud of many of them. But there are a few that just really intrigued me…that made me go, “Whoa! I have GOT to find out what their parents are doing.” Hayden is one.
He is a unique kid. In a private school where everyone wore uniforms; boys had mandated above the ears, eyebrows, and collar haircuts, Hayden wore whatever uniform shirt he grabbed that morning (even if the shirt was a little tight because it was from 5 years ago) and his hair totally broke code…in all three areas.
He is the youngest guy I know that seemed to have figured out how to surf the waves of stress life sends our way…notice he neither drowned in them nor ignored them…he sucked out of every situation what he could benefit from it and let the rest go. It was like a human phenomenon.
At first glance, most assumed he was a rebel. Everyone that had as much as 30 minutes of interaction with Hayden fell in love with him. He is a respectful, intelligent, fun, and peaceful guy quick to offer a smile. He liked what he liked, regardless of how others felt about it. And his conversations about life, God, the Bible, literature, and history were insightful.
How do you do this? How do you raise a guy that chases God harder than most chase girls, is totally comfortable with who he is as well as who you decide you want to be, a young man that understands the seriousness of his education, but doesn’t let the seriousness suck all the fun out of life. A guy that rebels against the pressures and culturally imposed useless expectations that do nothing to make us better people…and does not become a rebel without a cause…
a gentle and wise rebel…
It is a beauty that steals your breath.
So, you know what I did, I e-mailed his mother. “Can we have lunch?” And lucky you!!! I’m sharing all of Chandra Sosebee’s awesome wisdom:
Me: I am doing a series on raising good, moral, godly young men. Can you give me a few suggestions?
Chandra: Hayden was always strong headed. So you had to curb that but not break his spirit. I always encouraged him to be an individual. Never follow the crowd. Do what you love, even if no one else is doing it. And BE POLITE.
Me: How do we teach our boys to love Jesus, make good choices, protect them from bad decisions that could ruin their lives, but give them room to actually mature in the process? And what about social media?
Chandra: I have been reading “Wild at Heart” and “Killing Lions”. He read both of those before going to Kenya. I think as a mother of a son, we need to know what a boy/man needs to succeed. They need adventure and to be dangerous (within reason). I have always encouraged that.
I took him fishing the first time, I taught him to pee in the woods, to go hiking, to ride a skateboard. Then he took all of those things and ran with them.
But they NEED that father influence in their life. And as a mom, you have to let go. Let them grow up and find themselves. And that is crazy hard.
Social media is hard. Everyone is on it. But, if your child is on a social media site, you better be on it too, STALKING THEM! And lots of prayer. I was also what I called an Apache helicopter mom. Not only did I hover, but I was ready to attack at any moment. Him or anyone else.
Me: I love “Wild at Heart”, and I completely agree with the importance of nurturing and making room for that “taking dominion” mandate (Genesis 1:28) from God that resonates so powerfully in boys…of all ages.
Apache helicopter parenting…tell me more about this. How did you manage that without producing a wimpy, run-to-momma-to-fix-it-all son? You would not believe the number of teens that have been emasculated by their mothers. It terrifies me, and so I tend to err on the other side. How do we know how to strike that balance?
Chandra: That’s hard. I think you have to be really real with them. If you break my rules, I’m busting you on it. However, I let him fully express his opinion and emotions. Now, if he reacted in a bad way, I had to bust him on that. If he got in trouble and was ticked about it, I let him be ticked. You want to stay in your room for two hours and not talk to me? Ok.
I know parents that didn’t do that. Their kids weren’t allowed to be mad, sad…whatever. But that invalidates their feelings.
It’s also important that they know you have their back. If Hayden had an issue, he could talk to me.
Never be a hypocrite to your kid. They see through it. If you have failings and shortcomings, admit to it. You’re not perfect, and that’s okay.
I came full force. But I loved full force too. I can’t tell you how many times I would have to apologize trying to get him ready for church on Sundays. Sometimes you have to apologize to your kids. We mess up.
I was really bad in high school and college. I lied to my parents all the time. I let him know that I had already been there and done that, so don’t even try it. I will bust you.
A cell phone becomes necessary as they get older. They have apps to track it. Do so. Be all up in their grill. But let them do crazy stuff too. Air soft guns, skateboarding, mountain biking, road cycling…teach them how, then let them go.
Chandra is such a cool person. When you meet her, Hayden’s awesomeness totally makes sense. Should you ever run into her, be selfish and strike up a conversation. Her wisdom is so genuine.
- Encourage and give room for adventure and danger (within reason)
- Give room for the father figure to do His thing…(even if that means you need to turn your head mom.)
- Stalk them on social media!
- Helicopter Apache!!!! (this is my new favorite term…and I feel the need to add here: Helicopters watch from a distance but are close enough to swoop in…it is not the same as becoming your child’s Siamese Twin or keeping them under your skirt.)
- Set the rules. BUST them if broken
- Give them room to feel (but not disrespect)
- Have their back.
- NEVER be a hypocrite.
- Be all up in their grill, but allow room to grow.
- Read “Killing Lions” & “Wild at Heart” (and anything by John or Stasi Eldredge for that matter)
I feel the picture at the beginning (which only shows up properly on your desktop) and this one beautifully capture two verses of the Bible that we must remember as we grow our boys to be men. Genesis 1:28 “God blessed them and said to them…fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” & mindful that our boys are to grow in the image of God, Exodus 15:3 “the Lord is a warrior…”
If at the age of accountability (for a reference, in Jewish culture that is 13), our sons are still burying their heads into our skirts and are afraid to look into the horizon, we have failed them. God is a victorious warrior, full of compassion; and when we look at our sons, we should see Him.