On a recent episode of the podcast, we talked about how the homesteading lifestyle is a call back to home-centered living: homesteading, homemaking, home cooking, home business, homeschooling, etc.  Today’s conversation ventures off from farm and homestead topics and dives into an equally important aspect of homestead life: raising our kids. This chat with Durenda, author and homeschooling mother of eight children (five sons), takes us through the importance of raising our boys into strong men who will lead homes and communities.  When the world teaches us to devalue the role of men in our homes and in society, we hope this episode encourages you to drown out the noise and embrace who your sons are made to be.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Recognizing and supporting the God-given nature of boys
  • Taking a counter-cultural stance in raising our boys to be strong men
  • The value of seeking a father’s input in raising sons
  • Two different approaches to discipline
  • Why it is so important to take a step back and pause before disciplining
  • How even our imperfect efforts make a profound impact
  • Tailoring your homeschooling approach to your son’s learning style
  • Embracing the challenges and rewards of the teen years
  • Considerations for parenting a son with special needs
  • An exhortation to steward our boys into strong, godly men

E32: Raising Strong and Courageous Sons in a Culture that Calls Masculinity Toxic | Durenda Wilson Homesteaders of America

Thank you to our sponsor!

Premier 1 Supplies is your one-stop shop for all things homesteading!  Visit Premier1Supplies.com to browse their catalog.

About Durenda

Durenda Wilson has been married to Darryl for thirty-four years. They have eight kids and ten grandkids and have been homeschooling for thirty years. She is a trusted voice and resource at homeschool conventions and on The Durenda Wilson Podcast.

Resources Mentioned

Raising Boys to Men: A Simple, Mercifully Short Book on Raising and Homeschooling Boys by Durenda Wilson

Connect

Durenda Wilson | Website | Instagram | Facebook | Podcast

Homesteaders of America | Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Pinterest

Raising Strong and Courageous Sons in a Culture that Calls Masculinity Toxic Transcript

Amy Fewell Welcome to the Homesteaders of America Podcast, where we encourage simple living, hard work, natural healthcare, real food, and building an agrarian society. If you’re pioneering your way through modern noise and conveniences, and you’re an advocate for living a more sustainable and quiet life, this podcast is for you. Welcome to this week’s podcast. I’m your host, Amy Fewell, and I’m the founder of the Homesteaders of America organization and annual events. If you’re not familiar with us, we are a resource for homesteading education and online support. And we even host a couple of in-person events each year with our biggest annual event happening right outside the nation’s capital here in Virginia every October. Check us out online at HomesteadersofAmerica.com. Follow us on all of our social media platforms and subscribe to our newsletter so that you can be the first to know about all things HOA (that’s short for Homesteaders of America). Don’t forget that we have an online membership that gives you access to thousands—yes, literally thousands—of hours worth of information and videos. It also gets you discount codes, an HOA decal sticker when you sign up, and access to event tickets before anyone else. All right. Let’s dive into this week’s episode. 

Amy Fewell Welcome back to the Homesteaders of America podcast. I have a really fun interview for you guys today. We are moving away from the soil and the livestock and on the farm stuff, and we’re going to talk about kids today. You guys love that topic. With me this week, I have Durenda Wilson and she is an author. She is a mama to her own beautiful kids. And I think you guys are going to like this. Especially you, boy moms. So welcome to the podcast, Durenda. 

Durenda Wilson Thank you for having me. I’m super excited to be here today. 

Amy Fewell Yeah. Me too. So I’m going to preface this podcast episode because somebody is going to message me. It probably will be very much Christian-based talk just because knowing Durenda and myself. So if that’s not for you, that’s fine. But it may also be for you because we’ll talk about other stuff too. So I just wanted to preface it with that. We have a wide variety of people that listen. All right, Durenda, why don’t you tell our audience a little bit about who you are? 

Durenda Wilson Okay, well, I’ve been married to my husband, Darryl, for 34 years. We have eight kids, ages 19 to 32, five boys and three girls. We have our 11th grandbaby on the way in the fall. And, I basically do a podcast where I encourage moms in homeschooling and being a wife and a mom and all of that. And then I’ve written a few books as well. So, that’s kind of everything in a nutshell. We’ve also been homeschooling for over 30 years. We homeschooled all of our kids kindergarten through 12th grade. 

Amy Fewell That’s amazing. From the beginning? Did any of your kids ever go to public school? 

Durenda Wilson From the beginning. 

Amy Fewell That’s amazing. Wow, what a blessing. Yeah, we started homeschooling with our oldest, I guess it would have been 13 years ago. And so we’re still doing that. He’s never known… None of our kids have been in public school, so it’s really neat. Okay, so specifically today we are talking about your new book that’s coming out all about boys. Why don’t you tell our audience just a little bit about it? 

Durenda Wilson Well, it’s a book that I just felt like needed to be written. I have moms asking me all the time about boys and specifics on boys, because we did have so many, and now they’re all grown, and I kind of have that hindsight. And so I thought, I’m just going to take this opportunity to write what I call a simple, mercifully short book. I wrote The Unhurried Homeschooler eight years ago, a tiny little short, simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling. And I thought, I think I should add to that collection and let’s talk about boys. And so I just have this passion to equip moms to understand their sons better so that they can equip them toward manhood. You know, there’s this extreme toxic… They call it “toxic masculinity”. That’s not what I’m talking about. But listen, we’re raising warriors. We’re not just raising nice guys. We’re raising warriors and dragon slayers. This is what they were made to do— to protect, provide, build, conquer, all of those things. And so how can we encourage that in them? And so that’s really what the whole book is about is coming to a better understanding of our boys and then how to respond to them, because sometimes, quite often our response, our natural response isn’t actually what they need. And so it’s kind of a little bit of a retraining of our minds. If we understand just their basic, God-given nature and the way that they’re wired, it helps so much. And then we get to enjoy them so much more. That’s what I want to see. I want to see moms enjoying their sons in that process of raising them. Because I’m telling you, it was a hoot. I loved raising boys. I love raising our girls, too. But these boys, I’m telling you, they grew me in all kinds of ways. They made me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants. I mean, these guys are funny and really challenged me a lot in many different ways. And I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t raised five boys. And so I want to pass that passion, that joy, that encouragement, that understanding on to moms. 

Amy Fewell Yeah, yeah. Well, I appreciate it. So to tell you guys kind of how this podcast interview came about, which is hilarious because normally I know like everybody who’s anybody in the homeschool and boy world. And I noticed like all of my friends followed you, but Leanne… Forrest—who you guys can’t see; Forrest is on here with us in the background, smiling like, “why did you say my name?” So his wife, Leanne, they run our podcast for us and they do all the fun things that we don’t want to do. And Leanne sent me Durenda’s e-book, and she was like, “I think you should read this and see if you want to have her on.” And I don’t think I got past the first three pages and I’m just like, “Yes. Yes, this is a book every boy mom needs.” This is the book I’ve been looking for because I have two boys and a girl, and our oldest boy is almost 15. Our middle boy is 4. He’ll be 5 this summer, and so there’s a big gap between them— two different generations. And then our little girl is only 18 months old, but even at 18 months old, we can already tell just the personality differences between boys and girls. And so, you know, we’re kind of in all of this wide range of ages. And Leanne sent me that book just in time because we’re dealing with the teenage stage, and it was wonderful. So let’s kind of unpackage this book a little bit. First of all, what do you think some of the biggest challenges for boy moms are? Some people listening may not have boys or they may have little little boys. They don’t know yet. So what are some of the biggest challenges boys moms have? 

Durenda Wilson I think the biggest challenges are to respect the God given nature of boys and then to direct their energy in a productive direction. A mom very wisely once said, “As a mom of boys, my main job is to employ and exhaust.” And I think that that’s really important to understand. We have to understand that there’s typically three questions that are going through a boy’s mind all the time: who’s in charge? Who’s on my team? And what are we doing? So they’re mission-minded, they’re mission-oriented, they’re conquer-oriented. So directing that energy in a productive direction is one of the biggest jobs we have and challenges we have as moms of boys. Also because we’re women, and we have this wonderful nurturing nature, but we kind of lean more towards the emotional side. We have to be careful not to parent our sons emotionally. That can range anything from having an issue in public… You know, our boys are going to embarrass us. They’re going to embarrass us. It’s almost a guarantee. And it’s not because they’re trying to embarrass us. It’s because they’re constantly checking the parameters all the time. They’re constantly asking those three questions I mentioned all the time. And when those questions seem like they’re not being answered, a lot of times they will press the limits to try to figure out what the answers are. And so we as moms need to be careful not to react, but to respond to that nature. Instead of, “Oh my gosh, I’m so embarrassed. Oh, I can’t believe he did that.” You know, yes, it it happens. And it is embarrassing sometimes. But honestly, you get down the road and you look back and you laugh because it’s really, really funny most of the time. Not all the time, but most of the time. So not to parent emotionally, I think remembering that, we as women, you know, like I said, we have these emotions and they make a great warning light, but a terrible GPS. So we need to be careful as we kind of walk life out with our boys and remember that they’re going to do crazy, unexpected things, and our job is to respond, not to react. And then I think the other big challenge is just our culture. And a lot of the church is in a crisis when it comes to masculinity. We’re just being lied to all the time about gender and masculinity. It’s become trendy to hate men, to hate masculinity. And it’s been like this for a while. It’s kind of amped up more recently. But I think that we’ve all grown up with this. And so we sometimes don’t realize that it’s influencing us in how we’re parenting our sons. And so we need to be careful that we’re not jumping on that bandwagon. It means we’re going to have to be that mom who says, “I don’t care if I’m embarrassed. I don’t care what other people think. I’m going to defend my son’s, you know, basically his right to boyhood, to be who God wired him to be.” That doesn’t mean they’re going to be disrespectful. It doesn’t mean  they don’t have to obey us and do what we tell them to do. It doesn’t mean that. They’re not going to run wild, willy nilly. We’re going to set boundaries. And I talk about this in the book, what that looks like and why that’s important. But at the same time, we’re going to remember how they’re wired, and we’re going to give them the freedom to be who God made them to be. And so I think it’s… You know, boys are aggressive. They tend to have a real aggressive nature. And the culture does not appreciate aggression because—and I think this is the main reason—is because we’re not running for our lives anymore. You know, back in the day… We live in a very refined culture. We all feel pretty safe and all of that. But for centuries it wasn’t like that. We needed men who were willing to fight and protect and provide and all of that. And so we still need that today. But what we need are men who are willing to fight against the moral and political overreach that is hell bent on destroying the family. And so we need men who are kind and understand how to help the helpless, but they’re not afraid to wage war when necessary because they love what and who they’re fighting for. And I love the quote by G.K. Chesterton. He said something along the lines of “A real warrior fights not because he hates the thing in front of him, but because he loves who’s behind him.” And so I just thought that was so… That really moved me when I heard that. Because it’s true. It’s that protection. It’s that “I love these people back here, and I’m going to fight for them.” And that’s what we want our boys to grow up being. 

Amy Fewell Yeah. You know, and there’s a real war in homes now, too, where—especially in our culture—where husband and wife are often against each other, right? They’re not for each other. They’re against each other. And so parenting kids—especially boys in that environment—is difficult because you have a mom and a dad who aren’t agreeing. One of the things… that “aha” moment—not “aha” moment, I already knew this—but the moment I knew I needed to bring you on the podcast was you wrote in the beginning part of your book that you were talking to your husband and he said to you, “You use too many words.” And I cannot tell you how many times my husband has said that. He’s like, “I know you love him, but he stops listening to you because you use too many words.” 

Durenda Wilson Yes, yes. 

Amy Fewell I love that in this book you are encouraging wives to listen to their husbands because they’re men, right? They’ve been a young man before. So I wonder if you might talk about that a little bit. 

Durenda Wilson Yeah, absolutely. So that story, that’s one of my favorite stories, and I love telling it at conferences of workshops and things like that. Because the look on… Usually I have a mix of… I have husbands and wives in those workshops, and they guys will just be like, “Yes, yes, yes.” And the women are kind of laughing like, “Oh yeah, okay.” But it’s true. And I’m a writer. I wasn’t then, but I love words, I love communicating, I love good, clear communication. And so when I was having this trouble with the boys, my big thing was I just felt like I wasn’t saying it right, and that’s why they weren’t getting it. And so I’d say it another way and another way and another way. And as you know from the story, my husband’s like… You know, when I expressed my frustration, he told me, “I think you just use too many words.” And I went back—and this was my favorite part—I went back to talk to the boys because I always like to get my kids’ input when I have an idea or something that I think needs changing, I run it by them a lot of times, and ultimately I have the final say. But they were teenagers, so I wanted to hear what they had to say. We were having so much trouble. I didn’t want the relationships to be destroyed because of this. So anyway, I went back to them and they basically were like… I said, “This is what your dad said. What do you think?” And they go, “Yes, mom, you use too many words. We would rather experience physical pain than listen to you talk.” And they weren’t being disrespectful; they were being honest. And I appreciated that. So I had to really work on that. It took a lot of self-control. But that was one of those instances of many instances where I went to my husband when I was not sure what to do with them, when I got to that frustrating point where I wasn’t seeing any changes and I thought, “Am I doing this wrong?” And I would go to him and he would have the best—not anything like what I would think of, of course—but the best ideas that, at first, I might even be like, “I don’t know about that.” But I had nothing left, right? Like, so what am I going to do? I have no ideas. My creativity is gone, so I’m going to go for it. And plus I just look at my husband and I think he is the—you know, because of our faith—I believe he’s the head of the household in that God speaks to him and through him. And so that’s what I would pray when I would go to talk to him like, “Okay, Lord, give him wisdom. Give him the words. Show me what to do through him.” And so often that happened. And again, you’re right. It’s because they know how boys think, they know how they’re wired. And so what I love about this book is it can also be a super great sort of encouragement for moms in their marriages as well to, one, understand their husbands a little bit better, and then also to give them that opportunity to take that leadership role by asking them, “What do you think about these situations with our son? What do you think we should do?” And I think you’ll be shocked at how many great ideas they really have. They can be crazy, but they can be effective. 

I know. Yeah. And we’re over here like, “That makes no sense to me whatsoever,” but our brains are wired differently, right?

Durenda Wilson I know, I know. Exactly, exactly. 

Amy Fewell So one of the things that I really enjoyed in one of the chapters was you were talking about discipline, but you were talking about a healthy form of discipline and a biblical form of discipline. And I really appreciated that about this book. And so why don’t you kind of tell us what that looks like, depending on age too. I know it’s a lot different for little boys and big boys, but how can moms really kind of navigate that? 

Durenda Wilson Well, I share in the book, there’s a couple kinds of discipline. And because we’re people of faith, we don’t believe that we have to pay consequences for our sin. We believe that Jesus took care of that. So when we’re disciplining our children, we’re not punishing them. It’s not a matter of punishment. It’s a matter of training. And so there’s two different types of discipline or ways that we discipline our kids. And I think… In the book I share this where there’s the same scenario, two different situations. So, a mom asks her son to go out, or the parents ask the son to go out and to chop wood. And that’s just something she’s asking him to do. It needs to get done. He’s supposed to get a certain amount done in a certain amount of time. He does not get it done. He messes around, he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do. And so she tells her husband and the husband basically says, “Okay, you’re going to go out there and you’re going to do it for yay amount of time,” or I can’t remember how I told the story in the book, but essentially it was like, okay, you didn’t do this thing. And so you’re not going to be able to do the fun thing you wanted to do this weekend. You’re going to be chopping wood instead. That’s what’s going to happen. Because you made this choice over here, you don’t get to do this thing over here. So it’s a privilege/responsibility thing. So that’s one way. So it’s when they’ve done something that they weren’t supposed to do or didn’t do something they were supposed to do. Okay. So that’s one scenario. And then the other scenario is when a dad is out chopping wood and he calls his son out to help him and his son’s like, “Well, am I in trouble? Why do I have to chop wood?” And he’s like, “This is a skill that you need to learn for life. This is something I want to teach you. I think this is something that will benefit you down the road. So it’s like I’m training you for the future.” So there are times that we have scenarios where maybe there’s a conflict or something between your sons or between a son and a daughter. You’re taking the time to work through that conflict and to really talk through how to work through conflict, in a healthy way. And so that’s another form of training, but you’re taking the time to teach them how to do those things, because you want them to learn that skill for down the road. You see their future and you know that they need that. And so, that’s kind of the two different kinds of discipline that I talk about. 

Amy Fewell Yeah. You referenced the scripture in there about how we shouldn’t provoke our children to anger. Right? And a lot of parents will do that. They’ll get their children to the point where they’re just picking at them at that point, provoking them to anger. And that’s not training like the examples that you gave. And so, Durenda kind of goes through that. She gives scriptures and references and things. And I really appreciated that section of the book. 

Durenda Wilson Yeah. I think one thing I would like to add to that is, there’s a point when you’re starting to pick at your child that you just need to hit the pause button. I think that’s my biggest encouragement to moms when I’m talking to them about disciplining. You’re not qualified to discipline your child if you are angry, aggravated, super frustrated. You need to step away. And I’m not saying I always did this because I didn’t, but I can look back and say that there were regrets for not doing that. So whenever we find ourselves in a situation where we feel like discipline needs to happen, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I in a place right now that I’m qualified to do this? Or do I need to take a break, step back, put the kid in their room, go to my room, whatever, pray about it, get myself calmed down, have a plan of action, and move forward prayerfully and intentionally and calmly?” And so that makes a huge difference. It’s hard to do because I know when I get on a roll and it’s just like this avalanche or something.

Amy Fewell You just let them have it.

Durenda Wilson Yeah. And what just happened? Then you got to go back and you got to apologize. You can’t take those words back. And it’s just so much messier. And it’s way cleaner if we can have that self discipline to stop ourselves before we do that.

Amy Fewell Yeah. You know, parenting—especially boys—is really training for moms too, right? 

Durenda Wilson It really is. 

Amy Fewell I mean, we have to grow in so many different… Not just moms, but dads too. You know, we have to grow in so many spiritually different elements of our own life and practice our own self control. And the reality is that most of us did not grow up in a household with parents that controlled themselves during discipline. 

Durenda Wilson Correct. 

Amy Fewell And so we just re-do what we learned how to do.

Durenda Wilson Right.

Amy Fewell So it’s like an unlearning and then relearning. 

Durenda Wilson Exactly. And we have to be intentional and it can be frustrating and it can feel overwhelming at times. But it is so worth the effort. And I really believe that when we make those efforts, even if they’re hard and they’re little steps, God’s going to honor that. And it’s amazing what our kids don’t remember when they become adults. It’s hilarious. I’ll give you an example. So we really tried to read the Bible every night at dinner time because once they’re away from the table, it’s like herding cats to get them back, right? So they’re finishing up dinner. This is the best time to do it. We fell off the wagon so many times. I can’t even tell you. It’d be like a week would go by or two weeks or something. I’d be like, “Wait a minute. We haven’t been reading for like two weeks.” Then I would feel super bad and guilty and I was like, “Okay, I don’t care. I’m just going to do this. I’m going to go back on, going to get back on the horse again.” And  so we’d do it. And now it’s hilarious because my kids say, “Oh yeah, I remember when we were growing up, we read the Bible at the table every single night.” And I’m like, “No, we didn’t.” 

Amy Fewell No we didn’t. 

Durenda Wilson We tried to. 

Amy Fewell But to them, it was every single night. 

Durenda Wilson It was. And so it’s just stuff like that that you don’t know when you’re walking through it. We always worry, oh I am going to scar them for life. I remember crying to my husband at certain points and saying, “If they turn out to be okay, it’s going to be a miracle.” And so, I mean, it’s just parenting. It is. But I guess what I want to say is it is worth continuing to get back on the horse, continue to try, continue moving forward. And I think, you’ll see really good results. 

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Amy Fewell Okay, so let’s switch gears a little bit. I want to talk about homeschooling for just a second. So for moms who have boys, we know that homeschooling can also be like herding cats, physically and mentally. 

Durenda Wilson Absolutely. 

Amy Fewell And so, one of the things… You actually wrote a book about this, it’s called The Four-Hour Homeschool Day or something like that? 

Durenda Wilson The Four-Hour School Day, yes. 

Amy Fewell That’s actually what we started a long time ago, and one of the things that I really appreciated when I was reading your book… It was like, “Oh, I got this right,” was you do the four-hour school day, and then you kind of let history and science be self-driven. And that’s also what we did. We found that it was just easier to have him focus when he was focused on English and math and Bible or whatever, but the main core subjects. 

Durenda Wilson Right, right. 

Amy Fewell So what does it look like? What did it look like for you? What are some of the things that you found that worked better homeschooling boys?

Durenda Wilson Well, I would say they definitely need more breaks. Brain breaks. Time to just physically blow off energy. I usually let them take a break between each subject. They just needed a lot more physical activity, more hands-on stuff, less words, as we talked about earlier. Curriculum can be overwhelming with words. And so it’s okay if we aren’t using things that are super wordy. In fact, I think especially in the early years, it’s really in their best interest. But I think also letting them do things the way it works for them. I remember at one point asking each of my boys—all of my kids, but specifically my boys—what is it that helps you with reading? Okay. Is it is it easier for you to read it? Do you want to listen to an audiobook? Do you need music going on? Do you need some… Because some of them needed more than one thing going on at a time in order to focus. I don’t get that.

Amy Fewell I don’t get that either. 

Durenda Wilson I need silence when I’m studying. But I had boys who wanted to read upside down on the couch. Great. That’s fine with me. And none of this can happen in a traditional classroom. That’s what’s so great about homeschooling, is that you can adjust and adapt things to however they need to learn. And so the other thing I didn’t do was really hover over them like a helicopter mom when it came to homeschooling. I found that my girls liked more relational type interaction with their education, and my boys were like, “I just want to get this done because I got things to do,” you know? And so our schedule looked like chores in the morning and then breakfast and then a few more chores. And then it was we had school time. And if they were in kindergarten, you’re talking like 30 minutes or less.

Amy Fewell Right.

Durenda Wilson Most of my kindergartners, I mean, it was digging in the dirt, building forts, you know, all that stuff. That’s how they’re learning at that age. And that’s a whole other topic. But then slowly, we would slowly get into the bookwork. By the time they were 8 or 9, they were reading well, and being able to write their own letters and numbers and all that, and they were doing sentences and stuff like that. So then I could let them independently… As soon as they were doing that, I let them work independently in their workbooks. And that was just what worked for us. They knew exactly what they needed to do every day. They did that, and they knew when they were done with that, I was going to cut them loose. So they were motivated to get it done. In fact, my boys tell me all the time I taught them… They said, “You taught us how to do the hard thing first because school work was something we didn’t necessarily enjoy, but we knew we needed to do it so we would get it done. And then we’d had this free time in the afternoon.” So we usually were done with school by noon every day unless they were in high school. Then it usually took a little longer. But I tried to make it so that by noon lunchtime, we were done for the day and we moved on. And we raised our kids basically in a homesteading situation, so there’s lots of chores to do. There’s lots of things that need to be done, and there’s places, things for them to play with and do and build and all this. And so we let the afternoon be that and 2 to 3 hours of that. And to this day, all of our kids have said, “We’re so thankful that you gave us that margin every single day.” That’s when their creativity came out, when they became more confident in who they were, what they liked, those kinds of things, found their interests and their hobbies and all of that. And so it was just a really good experience. And I think taking that unhurried approach with boys is extra important because they tend to be a couple of years behind girls. They catch up eventually, but especially in the early years, this just isn’t their jam, all the bookwork. And some of them, you know, there’s a sliding scale. There’s some that are more that way. But that’s not how my boys were. I know that. And I think most of us have that experience. So, we don’t really have to worry about them falling behind because what’s going to happen is what I call the spring thaw. You can dig post holes in Alaska in the winter if you want to. Chink chink chink chink chink every day. Maybe you’ll make some progress. Maybe you won’t. Or you can wait for the spring thaw and you do it in a fraction of the time, right? It’s the same thing with learning and specifically with boys. When they are ready, holy cow, they will just take off like a P-38 and you’ll have to run to catch up with them. That’s just what they do. And so I think don’t worry about that, especially in the early years. So you can kind of hear there’s a lot of… It’s just a little bit of a different approach with boys than girls typically. And just those tweaks and changes make such a difference. 

Amy Fewell They do. Yeah. And of course, it’s difference in age, like you said. And one of the things I’ll pull out from what you just answered was you were consistent in your daily homeschool.  They knew what to expect and making those expectations clear. And then they knew what to expect when they got their work done. And I feel like those boundaries are so important for boys because they’re just ding ding ding all over the place all the time, ready to go. And so just having that routine is so important. 

Durenda Wilson Yeah. The energy. You know we talked at the beginning about directing that energy. And that’s one of the ways we do that is just to be consistent in our routine and to let them know they’re going to get that time every day and be consistent with it. Occasionally we had to take an afternoon to go to a dental appointment or whatever, but they knew that it was the rule, not the exception, that they would get that time every day. 

Amy Fewell Okay, a couple more questions. So we have a large gap in between our two boys, and I quickly realized that little boys, great, lovely, cuddly, dirty, all that fun stuff. But as you go into the teen years, one of the things that we’re experiencing now that you wrote about in your book is how… I think you worded like, boys can kind of, like, start losing their minds when they start entering into puberty. And so that is true. It seems like nothing is logical half the time. So I wonder if you might talk to mamas who are kind of dealing with teenage boys and all the stuff that they’re going through. 

Durenda Wilson Right? So you can have a boy who does great, like, ten years old, he does everything he is supposed to do every day. And you hardly ever have to remind him. 11 years old. Maybe he’s doing the same thing. He’s hitting 12, 13. All of a sudden it’s like the things he normally did, he’s not doing. And at first it can be really aggravating because we think, “Hey, what? No.” Immediately we get that fearful thing about, you know, just wait till they’re teenagers. Just toss that to the side. It’s ridiculous. Yes, they’re different when they’re going through the teen years. There’s challenges and all of that. But there’s a ton of fun stuff that goes with it too. So I just want to say that. But as they’re going into the teen years, the hormones are starting to rage and there’s a lot of work going on in their bodies to turn them from a boy to a man. And it is a process. And it’s those teen years. And so we have to be careful that we let them walk through that with their dignity intact. So what we want to do is we want to be respectful of where they are, not making excuses for them. So there’s this fine line where there needs to be some grace. I understand, like, tell me why you didn’t take the garbage out. Like, why did that not happen? Oh, you know, making some lame excuse. Well, that sounds more like an excuse than a reason. So, you need to make sure that you’re doing that. Or they might just need a gentle reminder, and that’ll be enough. And you might have to do that more than you used to. And again, that could feel aggravating because you’re, like, wanting them to move forward, right? To grow up a little bit. And now you feel like you’re reverting a little bit. But it is for a while that way. And so grace is good. Letting it be an excuse to not fulfill their responsibilities, not good. Sometimes silly things happen or they do what we would call stupid things. We would be like, “Well, why did you do that?” And you’re like right, “That’s ridiculous. 

Amy Fewell Right.

Durenda Wilson And so being careful not to demean them in that process. Like I said, we want their dignity intact. So we want to respect that they are turning from a boy to a man. And have that conversation with them, like, “This is part of the process. Like I understand your body is going through a lot. You need to understand your body’s going through a lot. There’s going to be a lot of different changes going on. I want you to have the freedom to be able to tell me what’s going on. If you’re feeling down or you’re feeling… You know, you can’t focus or whatever, and we’ll work together on this. But you still have to do your responsibilities around here.” So I think just keeping that open conversation with them and that respect going both ways, because I know that as my boys got into the teen years, I would catch them doing a couple of different things. One, at one point— several points actually, because there were four of them right in a row, so there was like this entourage of teen boys, and all of a sudden I realized I wasn’t in charge anymore. They were telling me what to do, and they were taking leadership in our home. And I was like, “Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute.” And I would just stop and talk with them and say, “Look, I appreciate the fact that you were born to be a leader. You were born and wired to lead a wife and children and go out into the workplace and lead there, take that initiative. It’s good.” But I would tell them, “Now is not your time.”. 

Amy Fewell Right. 

“This is not your place. I am not your wife. I already have a husband.” And so I would say to them, “I can appreciate what you want to do, but right now you’re still in training. So in this particular scenario, you need to go ahead and do what I’m telling you to do, and you need to do it respectfully.” Now, there were other times that I would say, “Okay, let’s talk about this. I’m okay with maybe handing off this leadership role to you temporarily or whatever to try out and see how they do.” So it becomes this little dance really kind of through the teen years where eventually they’re slowly turning into the lead. They’re taking more and more leadership, making more and more decisions. And that starts in those early years. And so just I think keeping communication open with them is super important, that mutual respect both ways is really important which leads me to my next story: at one point, I remember one of my teen boys referred to me as “bruh”.

Amy Fewell Oh, yes. I’ve had this happen. 

Durenda Wilson Yes, I said, “I am not your bruh. I am your mom. So I’m not your friend. Although that would be nice. I mean, I am your friend, but I’m not… You know, that’s not my most important role in your life right now. My most important role in your life right now is your mom. And so I need you to respect that and I need you to call me mom.” 

Amy Fewell Yeah. 

Durenda Wilson Never heard it again. So it’s just definitely a dance. And that was also a season that I really leaned into my husband because he understood that journey so much better than I do. What does it mean to get him from here to here with his dignity intact but also principled? He has moral character. He knows how to stand up for what’s right. He knows how to defend himself. He knows how to defend his faith, things like that. So yeah, it is a big change in the teen years. But the flipside is they’re hilarious. Their sense of humor is so great. They surprise me all the time. They’re so quick thinking and forward thinking, and they’re excited about life and their future. And it’s just fun to be part of all of that, as they’re sort of moving towards that place where they launch, and then it’s exciting to see them starting their lives. And so it’s a good process, but definitely it can be a little bit of a wild ride. 

Amy Fewell Yeah. Yeah. One of the things we’ve noticed about our son—and he’ll be 15 this summer—is his wittiness is starting to actually make sense now. Like for a couple of years, he tried to be witty and it just didn’t make any sense at all. But now, it’s almost like there’s been a shift where he kind of understands wittiness and jokes and humor and it’s like, “Oh my gosh, you actually made a joke and it was actually funny.” And it’s so fun. It’s interesting to see how the things change. Okay, one last question. So one of the things I really appreciated was you addressed raising boys with special needs in the book because that’s you had a boy with a story. And so why don’t you go ahead and tell that story? 

Durenda Wilson Well, our youngest son was born with transposition of the greater arteries and two holes in his heart. So the first two months of his life, he spent in the hospital on fentanyl and versed and all the things that no mom ever wants to have pumped into their child. But it was necessary and all the things he needed. And so, that, of course, wired his brain differently than if a baby is able to be held and all of that. And so it’s been challenging. He’s had some some learning issues and some things like that. But overall, I would say that at the end of the day, he still needs the same thing as the other boys, just in different ways. So he still needs to feel like he’s an asset and not a detriment. He still needs to conquer. He still needs to experience what it’s like to protect, to provide, to build, those kinds of things. I don’t think their needs are different in that way. It’s just how we do that is going to probably look different than it would if… you know, our son is on the spectrum. And so there’s just some different uniquenesses about him. And so navigating how to give him those same experiences within his scope of, you know, who he is, I think has been super challenging. We’re still in the midst of that because he’s 19, but he’s definitely still very much at home and very much not ready to launch. And so it’s frustrating for him. Actually I just was on the phone with him right before… We’re actually on vacation in Florida. And he’s back at home. And his siblings, they live right next door and everything, so it’s all good. But I was having to talk him through something. And so it’s like, you know, it’s just he needs that same thing. He just needs it differently. And so just trying to figure out what that looks like. So I guess that would be my encouragement to moms with sons who have special needs. You can read this book and you’re going to read it with your son specifically in mind. And I think you’ll begin to be able to envision, the ways that you could walk some of these things out with him. Principles stay the same. The methods are different. It’s just like with discipline, as believers, we go to God’s Word and we see these are these are the principles but how we accomplish those and instill those in our kids, that method can be vast and varied, depending on the family and the child and the parents and the circumstances and all of that. So we’re shooting for the same thing. We’re just doing it a different way. 

Amy Fewell Yeah. Sounds like that could be a whole new book one day, right? 

Durenda Wilson Possibly. 

Amy Fewell Maybe. Yeah. Well, this is great. I’ve really enjoyed this because there’s so many different parenting books. There’s so many different websites and podcasts and things that moms and dads can listen to, but especially moms. And I have found on my journey that we’re really missing that biblical wise woman that you can learn from. Right? Just like in the Bible, the older teaching the younger and so on. And so I really felt like when going through this book that it was like, “Oh, yes, this is what I’ve been looking for.” And so we’ll link all of this stuff in the description of the podcast or the YouTube video, whatever you guys are watching, because I really want you to read it, especially if you’re a mom. It kind of just changed your perspective. It brings peace, like there’s a peace that comes with it as you’re reading it, knowing that someone has walked through the things that you’re going through and you can implement things that are tried and true. And so we’ll link all of that there. But Durenda, is there anything else, any kind of encouragement or inspiration you’d like to give to moms before we get off here? 

Durenda Wilson Well, I think in in writing the book, my hope was that the lives of families, specifically moms and sons—dads, too—but I feel like my calling is to speak to moms. So dads could read this book as well, and I’m sure benefit from it, but my heart is to minister to the mom who is very different than her son. But I want their lives to be changed. I want their families… The trajectory… You know, if they’re not heading a good direction, that they start to head a good direction and then raise these boys to be the men that they’re called to be because that is going to change our culture. We look around, we get discouraged. But I find my greatest encouragement in seeing so many families who want to raise, godly kids. They want to raise strong kids, but specifically strong men. We need it so desperately. And so my encouragement would be stay focused. Stay intentional on what God has called you to do specifically with your sons, and really try to block out all the other stuff and just be like laser focused on raising your sons to be strong, mighty men of God and warriors for the kingdom, but also just like fathers, husbands. Raise another generation of godly families. So that’s my hope. It’s kind of a multigenerational… It’s a long game for sure. But my encouragement is just don’t give up. Do not give up. Do not give in, and just keep moving forward with raising those boys for the Lord. Because, man, I’m telling you, I wish you could meet all of our boys because I think you would love them. I find that people that… The feedback I get from them as adults being out in the world is so much fun because all of a sudden you realize, oh my gosh, all this work I invested is like multiplying out here, and it’s such a great thing. So I just want to encourage you towards that. 

Amy Fewell Awesome. I love it. 

And I just want to make sure, I don’t think we said the title of the book, did we? 

Amy Fewell Oh, no, I guess we probably never did unless it was in the beginning. Go ahead and tell everyone what the title is. 

Durenda Wilson Okay. It’s called Raising Boys to Men: A Simple, Mercifully Short Book on Raising and Homeschooling Boys. It’s about 100 pages long, so it’s a pretty quick read, but I think there’s some good stuff in there, and I hope you’re encouraged by it. 

Amy Fewell Yeah, I can definitely tell you it’s a quick read, but it’s packed full of really good information. All right, guys. Well, thank you for joining us for this week’s podcast and I hope that you enjoy it. Thank you, Durenda, for joining us. 

Amy Fewell Hey, thanks for taking the time to listen to this week’s Homesteaders of America episode. We really enjoyed having you here. We welcome questions and you can find the transcript and all the show notes below or on our Homesteaders of America blog post that we have up for this podcast episode. Don’t forget to join us online with a membership or just to read blog posts and find out more information about our events at HomesteadersofAmerica.com. We also have a YouTube channel and follow us on all of our social media accounts to find out more about homesteading during this time in American history. All right, have a great day and happy homesteading. 


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Raising Strong & Courageous Sons in a Culture that Calls Masculinity Toxic Podcast with Durenda Wilson | Homesteaders of America