Calling All Moms! Apply “Respect Talk” to Your Sons


Are you clueless about how to respect your son? No matter the age, every son has a need for respect.

What is Respect Talk?

Beyond their words of love, Moms begin saying things like, “I really respect you.”  Or, “I respect you for being an honest person.”  Or, “Because you are becoming a man of honor, I need your help on how to solve this conflict between you and your sister.”

Tweener Son

First of all pay attention to what your boys are saying. Too many mothers innocently ignore the vocabulary of their sons and what energizes them.

I received an email from a mom who heard my presentation on a boy’s need for respect. “I’m sitting next to my boy, who’s playing the computer game ‘Fate.’ All of a sudden, he says, ‘Mom, I am respected now!’ In the game, you have a respect level score that gets higher the more you play well. My boy reached the level of…‘Renown of Respect’…”

Her point? Earlier she would have completely ignored her son’s comments. At best she would have mouthed, “That’s nice, son.” Now she heard him in a whole new light. She got it!

Mothers readily confess that they are clueless about respect toward boys.

A mom expresses, “I live with a house full of male testosterone. We even have a male dog. I am having conflict with my almost 12 year old and it is driving me nuts. My other two are 15 & 13… You made a comment about not having to make the males in my life want to be respected – they just need it…I am trying to figure out this respect thing and am finding it kinda difficult. Getting a handle on this is something I want to do but am not sure how. I even had to look up respect to see what it really meant. I am in prayer about this.”

Preschool Son

Listen to this mom. “One night while putting our sons to bed, my five-year-old, in the midst of my monologue about how much I loved him, looked at me sadly and said, ‘Mom, are you proud of me?’ Shocked, I expressed immediately that I was, of course, proud of him. He asked forlornly, ‘Then why don’t you ever tell me so?’”

A five year old boy said this!

I believe some moms miss their son’s felt need for respect, beginning very early in their boyhood. Why do they miss this? Moms love to love, and want their boys to learn to be loving.

A teacher who applied these respect concepts wrote, “The Kindergarten classroom is a little more complicated than a normal family setting, but I have so often wished that I could take the mothers of these boys, make them invisible, and let them see how their sons are (respectfully) treated in our class. Too often, these moms speak very disrespectfully about the father, and have a tendency to make the same mistakes of disrespect with their sons…They tend to bounce back and forth between appeasement and hostility when dealing with their sons…”

A mother wrote,“I have two sons (age 11 and 9) and 1 daughter (age 5). I completely understand my daughter, but not my sons. I think the respect issue is one reason why I cannot connect with them like I do my daughter. I am frequently correcting them and disciplining them and too often in frustration and anger. They do not respond to my “I love yous” like my daughter does. I am thinking they want more respect and our relationship will improve if they get it.”

She is correct.

Genetics and Teen Boys

Genetically, we know that boys and girls are different. Neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, who is both a researcher and a clinician, writes in her book The Female Brain (2007), “Out of the thirty thousand genes in the human genome, the less than one percent variation between the sexes is small. But that percentage difference influences every single cell in our bodies—from the nerves that register pleasure and pain to the neurons that transmit perception, thoughts, feelings, and emotions” (page 1).

For example, Dr. Brizendine (2007) found that “Males and females become reactive to different kinds of stress. Girls begin to react more to relationship stresses and boys to challenges to their authority. Relationship conflict is what drives a teen girl’s stress system wild. She needs to be liked and socially connected; a teen boy needs to be respected” (p. 34–35).

Shaunti Feldhahn, a premier researcher, found an undeniable pattern when researching her bookFor Parents Only:  girls lean toward the need to feel loved and boys lean toward the need to be respected.

This is important to recognize because during this season many moms see a serious change in their boys. A mom emails me,”My most recent major event happening in my boys’ lives is ‘puberty.’ It has been one of the toughest things emotionally as a mom since I left them at their desk on their first day of first grade. There is a sense of loss along with this change of life in them. The lullabies stopped abruptly, the needing me to comfort them when they are hurt physically, and the sense of belonging to me has faded away. As I was pondering this over a few months, I realized I needed to relate to them in a different way.”

The different way is applying Respect Talk.

Adult Sons

For those of you who have adult sons, it’s not too late for you to try this too.

A mom recounts, “In talking to my sons on the phone I thought I would try out the respect thing. Instead of always ending our conversation with ‘I love you’ I said ‘I respect……….’ (made it personal to their situation).

One son got quiet and then said ‘Thank you, Mom’ which really touched my heart. Another son who is more distant from us emotionally and spiritually also got quiet and then said, ‘I love you’ which he seldom says. To me that was awesome.

I expect new fruit in many areas and look forward to using these tools to bring healing to first myself and then others. God bless your ministry.”

As a mother, will you apply Respect Talk to your precious baby boy – no matter what his age?

Will you watch his response?

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