One Thing Your Son Needs


Moms of sons, you want to take note of Titus 2:6.

In the verses before this, Paul is instructing Timothy about HOW he should be pastoring the people in his church. In Titus 2: 1-5, Paul tells Timothy to give:

  • older men a list of 6 things they are to DO and BE,
  • older women a list of 5 things they are to DO and BE, and
  • younger women a list of 7 things they are to LEARN to DO and BE.


But when it comes to young men, he does something different. There’s no list. Not 5 things. Not 3 things.


Paul tells Timothy to urge young men to be ONE thing:

“Urge the young men to be self-controlled.” (Titus 2:6)


That’s it.

One thing.



Miriam-Webster defines it like this:

restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires

The Greek word means this:

to be of sound mind, to be temperate, have sound judgment, to be sensible

Draw each of those things out– in this context, it means:

  • To be of sound mind– means to have a mind that thinks rightly about one’s self
  • To be temperate– means to not be given to extremes in thinking and choices
  • To have sound judgment/be sensible– means to weighs things carefully; to think of oneself soberly; to use good judgment



This is a MAJOR battle you can take on in the hearts and bodies and minds of your son(s).

Watch for it: emotions, physical body, attitude, posture, attention, sexuality, impulsiveness… you will see his lack of self-control play out in many areas. And I LOVE the way the definitions help us to tie things back to their THINKING.

This is a way you can help your sons: identify what they are thinking and believing, and help them to counsel their own hearts with truth and wisdom from God’s Word.




Boys are quite different from girls. A lot of it goes back to this lack of self-control. They are (on the whole) FAR more wiggly, impulsive, combative, wrestling-prone, easily-roused toward fury, sensitive about bullying, easily-distracted, quick to fly into a temper tantrum, and more. It’s also why these things (tantrums/anger/crying) often look and sound very different from their little-girl-counterparts.

A lack of self-control is why young men might unexpectedly and unintentionally find themselves:

  • in friendships with utter fools,
  • in juvi/prison,
  • on websites where they know they shouldn’t be,
  • deep in sexual sin with a girl they don’t even like,
  • in embarrassing situations,
  • ready to beat up someone over a small offense they can’t even articulate, and
  • often doing things that make no sense to themselves or others.


Mama, let me urge you (like the Apostle Paul urged Timothy)–“urge” the young men in your home to “be self-controlled.”

And then commit yourself to do the work of helping them develop the unnatural– but GOOD and RIGHT– quality of self-mastery.


IN THE COMMENTS: In what way(s) does your son– at whatever age he is– CURRENTLY need you to help him develop self-control?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast ( I write and wrangle kids.

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12 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    This makes so much sense. I can see in my kids, especially one in particular, that most of his issues stem from his lack of self-control. I wish I’d realized this earlier as I think it would have been helpful to simply just try and tackle self-control, rather than trying to tackle many of his different issues over the years, which always completely overwhelmed me. I guess it’s not too late to start trying even though he’s almost twelve…

    Any tips though? Although I feel like I’ve identified the root of his struggle, the ‘how’ always escapes me.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Well I’m not sure exactly what sorts of issues you’re facing, but take it head on. Insist immediately that he stop dishing out nonsense, or being overly emotional/dramatic, or joking to the point of offense or annoyance, or thrashing around on the floor, or wrestling without restraint and hurting his brothers, or whatever it is he’s doing.

      Insist that he stop immediately and see to it that he does. Then determine, with your husband, what consequences are reasonable and right and carry them out with swiss-watch consistency. He only has two options: either he controls himself, or you will do it from the outside with less-enjoyable consequences attached to your intervention.

      At 12, you’ll probably need your husband’s partnership to come up with the right measure of painful consequences that can be consistently and effectively carried out by you in the middle of the day.

      Additionally, he needs discipleship. He needs continual, daily, biblically-counseled input about the natural state of his heart (sinful), his need for Christ, the willingness of the Spirit of God to help him fight and win his battle against laziness, selfishness, and to give him the fruit of self-control. He needs to understand that this is not a battle against you two, but against himself– that he is not being strong, but rather, he is being weak, when he bucks against you both. That he will, for his whole life, battle against his fleshly self (or be a slave to it), but that you are here and available, for the next number of years, to partner WITH him in this battle for his heart, soul, and joy in life. Call him out to battle with you. Ask him to partner with you and yield to the work of God in his heart and life.

      Call him to bigger and better things beyond mere arguments with siblings and parents.

  2. Allison says:

    Yes, I would love tips on how to help my son with this! He is 7. Very easily distracted ….goes around sticking is nose everywhere, bossing his sisters while his school and chores remain undone. I feel like I’m always nagging on him to get back to work and I feel unsettled about him, unsure of how to help him developed a good work ethic and self control.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Yes. Keep going! Instill in him the sense that he is responsible for himself. He is the only person he has authority over, but it’s enough! He has enough to do just by controlling himself.

      Say this again and again and again… over years… and he will eventually (start to) get it… and eventually you’ll start to see it paying off.

      But keep going! This is NOT a one-and-done, or just a week-long, type battle. This is a lifelong battle and you are in place as his mom to help him get a head start on being a self-controlled internally-motivated person.

      Something I say a lot — especially to my little & middle boys– is this:
      “You have the opportunity now to control yourSELF from the inside. OR, I will do it from the outside. You get to pick whether or not you do it, but not whether or not you come under control. You may not ____________ in our home. If you do you will get __________.”

  3. Beth says:

    I’ll “third” the request for tips! My son is 2, not very verbal yet so tantrums are much more common than I would like. It’s not just whining; he screams and tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants. Not all the time, thankfully he is less strong-willed than his next oldest sister. But I would love to know how to help him become self-controlled in this area, if possible. Right now I hold him firmly when he screams, until he calms down. Thanks for this post!

  4. Jess H says:

    Thanks for this, Jess!
    My three and a half year old is really struggling with this at the moment. Bursts into tears at the drop of a hat. I am working on getting him to look me in the eye, as you have mentioned elsewhere. And BOY is that a challenge for him!

  5. Allison says:

    Thank you so much for your reply – it is really what I needed to hear. I so appreciate your wisdom and taking the time to help young moms like myself!

  6. Sally says:

    Thank you for this! I totally agree and find that we have been doing this without knowing that scripture backs it up! My second son is 8 (almost 9) and has always been very prone to whining, crying, and being overly silly. His moods swing frequently. He is also prone to bullying his older brother (which has greatly baffled us). Our youngest has improved over the years, but will go in phases where he sulks, bullies, or is overly emotional. We seek to have compassion, but don’t allow him to hoodwink us. He knows he is loved. Thankfully, my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to discipline. We are very firm with both our boys and will not allow back-talk, bad attitudes, arguing, bullying, or prolonged uncontrolled silliness. This article is the first I’ve seen from your site, and I will be exploring further to gain wisdom from your experience. My two sons are almost 9 and almost 11. Thanks again!

  1. April 20, 2017

    […] From 3 years old onward, our sons sit through a hour-long church service, twice-each-Sunday. Yes sometimes they wiggle, and yes, the 3 year old definitely needs to be trained to do it. But it’s worth it to (sometimes… not all day, er’day) teach them to sit still. Self-control is a major battle in the life of a young man. It’s the one thing the Bible specifically tells us to”urge” young men to be. […]

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    […] One Thing Your Son Needs […]

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    […] // why your kids shouldn’t follow your diet plan – good thoughts on food in general // one thing your son needs […]

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