Last Updated on March 11, 2024

What I wanted to say was, “That’s too hard, cut him some slack.”

What I did say was, nothing. But MAN was it hard to bite my tongue. That’s my little boy he’s talking to. (As in 6’1” and 220 pounds…”little” but he is my little boy.)

Such were my thoughts at the beginning of the summer when my husband told my sixteen year old son what was expected of him this summer.

We live on a little ranch, we have a barn, two horses and a very large back field in which the horses roam. Said back field is obviously fenced, lest we lose our large mammals. Said fence was in major disrepair and it had become necessary to replace the fence.

“Westley, you will spend your summer digging post holes, putting posts in the holes, filling them with concrete, and then we will work together to get a new fence in place. Sounds simple enough, simple is a vast understatement… for those who need a clearer picture…that’s a post hole every eight feet, that must be three feet deep in a three acre field.

Very important side notes…we live in Little Rock…emphasis on the rock, most every hole requires breaking rock to get to the three feet. We have had mostly 100+ temperatures all summer and little rain. The sun is blazing, the air is hot, the ground is hard…and that’s my “little” boy.

His directive, four post holes a day, five days a week.  Which most days took four hours. My “little boy” would come back in the house dripping, dirty, and looking displeased.

After the first week and a half he started “discussing” with his dad all the reasons he couldn’t go on. A couple of times the discussing got heated. Hubby heard him, but at the point he said, you must do this, period…my son backed down. My son then came up with a grand plan of borrowing an auger (hole digger) from a neighboring farmer. My husband didn’t budge, “Nope, you are digging those holes.”

Once again…I held my tongue…IT WAS SO HARD. In our room one night, I asked a couple of questions, “Why not an auger, that’s showing initiative? Don’t you think this is too much for him? Does he have to go out there when it’s really hot? Shouldn’t you do it with him? He would explain a bit, but he always mostly said, “Tracey, he needs to do this.”

I admit, I didn’t fully get it. Until last night.

Our son announced over dinner…I have seven holes left and as he looked up at us under those long bangs, a slow, broad grin overtook his tan, scruffy bearded face and what I saw in his eyes was sheer joy and a sense of accomplishment. I am certain his chest then puffed out and he grew two inches taller…before my eyes.

He and his father then started talking of the “epic nature” of his achievement, “You’ll tell your children about that fence! I’ll drive them out here and make them look at that fence!” And the tale got bigger and bigger the more they talked about it…but those two guys were reveling in the glory of the victory over the 100 mile fence! (I suddenly understand how fish get bigger and bigger after a day of fishing!)

Let it be known to all within reading distance, I was wrong. He didn’t need to cut him some slack, he needed to challenge him to step up – that’s how little boys become great, dependable, God-honoring men.

Moms…in the area of raising boys, learn to hold your tongue – our men know what they are doing.

Single moms, if a Grandfather, Uncle or family friend wants to challenge your son to a hard task, let them, and don’t come to your sons rescue – hold your tongue.  If men in your sons life haven’t offered, forward this post and ask…do you have a fence my son can put up for you?

If you have a “stepping up” story to share about your husband or son…please leave it in the comment section, or link to it on your own blog!


You might also enjoy:

:: Boys: Toddler to Teen Relationship Building

:: Summer Fun in the Mud

:: On Being Overprotective

:: How to Raise a Boy to be a Man

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  1. LOVE IT! Way to go, to your husband, and way to go, to your son! Your husband recognized this was a true character-building opportunity for him, and led the way. And your son grew tremendously this summer! What an accomplishment, in so many ways.

  2. okay…you just made me want to go make my boy do something really hard! hmmmmm….can he come stay with you for a couple of weeks?

  3. Melissa Hutsell says:

    Great post. I fear this suburban living we do is killing our sons. There just isn’t enough work to be done to keep them out of trouble and give them that feeling of accomplishment. Way to go Eysters!

  4. Rare is the mom/wife ‘now days’ who recognizes the importance of letting her husband instill hard work into the life of his teenage son. I applaud (standing ovation!) your ability to hold your tongue….and your honesty in admitting how difficult it was. I, too have a college freshman daughter and a 16 year old son. We live in the the suburbs of Dallas, TX but I try and find a multitude of chores outside for my son. We also have a large hunting lease where I make sure we stay busy working and sweating together on projects. Growing up in the midwest I spent many, many days building fence…..and would love to “share” that experience with my son! You are both wise parents, indeed.

  5. There needs to be more father-son relationships like your family’s! I know you grew incredibly during this summer quest, too. What a great encouragement to mom’s of boys! (I have three, but they are all youngish 20’s now.) It’s hard to let dad’s be dad’s. Dad’s godly role is much different than mom’s and yet the two complement so well. GREAT post!

  6. Awesome post, Tracey! Such a good reminder to all of us moms to step back and let our husbands take control…and let our boys do some meaningful work. This reminded me so much of the book “Cleaning House” that I am currently reading. Thanks for sharing your heart!!!

  7. Tracey, I did the fence too, Aug. Miss. alone. Look how I turned out, ok don’t look. But you have another man in the house now. Stand up and take notice. Smart and wise husband, tell him while he is down!