How I’m Raising My Boys

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An interview with Sydney McKelvy

You might think raising four boys would be a challenge, but for Sydney McKelvy, mother of four sons ranging from 17 to 24 years old, the joys far outweigh the challenges. Here, she tells us what she has learned.

What surprises you most about raising sons?

Emotionally – boys are very easy. They don’t hold grudges. You can get mad at a boy, and two seconds later he’s over it. When I was young, I would stay mad at my mom for weeks at a time.

Physically, boys are demanding when they’re young. When our kids were younger, my sister would bring her three daughters over to my house, and after half an hour of watching my kids run around – everything became a sword, they moved around all the time -- she’d ask, “How can you handle this?” Meanwhile, when I’d go to her house, there’d be so much whining and complaining that I’d want to leave. I prefer the running and jumping.

Boys’ minds really are different. My husband has said to me on countless occasions – You’re never going to understand this; you’re not a boy. Boys love slimy toes, getting dirty, gory movies -- video games and all the technology. I cherish all those differences. I really celebrate that. It was so fun to watch as I was raising them.

Is there an age or age range when sons are particularly difficult?

The older years are a little more challenging. Your sons are evolving into their own people. They have that freedom of driving and all the challenges that teenagers face with regards to drinking, drugs and the whole girl thing. As kids get older and have that freedom, you have a lot less control. You can make your rules, but they’re broken more often than not.

Is there a lesson you’ve learned in this process?

I have learned to be consistent. When it comes to the more serious rules – driving curfews, drinking, drugs – your kids have to think, “Oh my Gosh, Mom would kill me if I did this.”

It’s okay to be strict. As a parent, you want to be your kids’ friend, you want them to like you – but it’s okay if they don’t.  All the strictness is out of love.

What values have you made a point of instilling in your sons?

  • Their love and care of family. I told them – “Always support your brothers – watch over them. They’ll be your best and closest friends forever..” Granted, it’s more difficult now with the kids away.
  • Be respectful and loving to your parents.
  • Compassion and concern for others.  Don’t leave other kids out. Think about those not as fortunate as you.
  • Faith – your faith is very important, and God will be there for you always. That has always been important to my husband and me.

What role do you see your husband having in raising strong, evolved sons?

He’s been an incredible role model in so many ways. His respect and love for me have been so important for raising my kids. They have grown up to be very respectful of me. The way they treat me is how my husband treats me.

They really look up to him. And he has incredible relationships with all of them. He has a lot of hobbies – he’s a hunter, so two of my sons hunt with him. He’s also a scuba diver – my other two kids scuba dive with them. He’s made such a point of finding a common bond with each of them. They adore him.

As I was raising my sons, there was a point where they sort of turned away from me – they’d had the nurturing that they needed – and they turned to my husband for advice. It was so wonderful to watch.

My husband also has an incredible work ethic. They have learned that from him, which is so important. I’m so lucky. He’s had such an impact on their self-confidence and their motivation to go out and be better people.

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