Raising Good Men: Lessons for Our Sons

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Image via Galit Breen

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, people sent me all sorts of notes and pins and quotes. Little boys love their mama, they said. Boys are like noise with dirt on top, they warned. A moment of silence for your bathrooms, they joked. And “they”–my friends, more seasoned mamas, more experienced pinners–were all right. My son is all of these things.

He's sweet and kind and loving and noisy and unabashed and a brand of silly that brings me lift every single day.

As his mom, I want him to be all of these things because they puzzle piece together to make him the little boy I'm so over the moon for and the basis of the man I can't wait to get to get to know.

In my heart of hearts, the trait that I think makes the world go round is empathy, and it's the one I feel the most responsible for placing inside the nooks and crannies of his heart.

{ MORE: To the New Moms of the Future: I Promise I Won’t Forget }

I asked four other mothers what trait they most hope to instill in their sons, and they took my breath away with their thoughtfulness and mindfulness– with the stunning reminder that what we all want for our children is that they give and receive goodness.

See what traits these mamas most want their sons to have.

Resilience

Bethany Meyer raises boys, questions her sanity, and laughs at her circumstances. She writes the hilariously titled blog, I Love Them the Most When They're Sleeping.

About the trait that she most wants her sons to have, Bethany says, “For a long time–and most especially after reading WonderI've valued kindness above all else. The world can be a cruel place. When life knocks them down, they have to be able to pick themselves up again and again. So I hope my boys learn resilience. A resilient man isn't afraid to take a risk; he has experienced failure, he has struggled, he has bruises, he has a story, he's gained perspective. With perspective comes sympathy, and kindness flows from there. Putting the pieces back together takes confidence and purpose. A resilient man is a survivor. That's what I want for my boys.”

Humanity

January Soden is a stay-at-home mom who writes funny, touching, and honest excerpts about her life with two boys, a dog, and a world-traveling husband.

About the trait that she most wants her sons to have, January says, “I believe if we teach our children that every person has a story than it also teaches tolerance which branches out into recognizing that the world is not black and white. I suppose empathy, tolerance, and love can all be bundled up into the word humanity. Humanity it is.”

Breathe

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Lindsey Mead writes about parenting and about what beauty we can see when we pay attention to our lives at A Design So Vast.

About the trait that she most wants her son to have, Lindsey says, “I want my son to be resilient, and able to take feedback, take a deep breath, and begin again. I truly believe that being able to do that–to let go and start over–is at the core of finding joy in this world.”

Truth

Heidi Cave is a wife, mother, motivational speaker, and author. Heidi writes at her blog called Fancy Feet and is the author of the memoir FANCY FEET: Turning My Tragedy Into Hope.

About the trait that she most wants her son to have, Heidi says, “I sang to my son Benjamin when he was a baby. His head on my shoulder, cheek against cheek, and my lips to his ear I sang about grace and love. Soft and low. If we were surrounded by noise and chaos Ben fussed and cried, so I would take him to another room to soothe him. He needed quiet. I still need to be soft with Ben — speak slowly for him to hear me, to understand. We talk about being responsible. He's eight, so in his world it's about getting his schoolwork done, picking up the socks he leaves all over the house, emptying the dishwasher because it's his turn, making eye contact and saying thank you. These are the small things, the building blocks of being honorable.

“Ben used to have many imaginary friends, ranging in age, personality and food preferences, but the one who popped up the most was his friend called True. He was Ben's dearest invisible friend, his favorite. I loved that his name was True – how meaningful! I want for my son to be a person of integrity and honor, for ‘True' to always be a part of him.”

{ MORE: Teachers Reveal The Best Gifts They Got From Students - And the Worst }

What trait do you most want your son to have?

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Raising Good Men: Lessons for Our Sons

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

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