Raising Spartans

Raising Spartans

When my oldest son, Noah, was just a couple of months old, I read this book called “That’s My Son” by Rick Johnson.

It’s a book about how to raise our sons up into men of character. The key to that phrase is that I am trying to raise a man. This makes the task more daunting than it already is!

In the first chapter, the author talks about Leonidas and his army of 300 Spartan men who defended Greece from the Persian army of 300,000 long enough to allow Greece to gather its army.

Leonidas knew that it was going to be a suicide mission, but he knew that the fate of Greece was at stake, and that the cause of Greece was much greater than himself, or even his 300 men.

Initially, looking at those 300 men, it seemed as though they were picked at random. When asked what the criteria was for choosing those men, he responded that it wasn’t that they were all seasoned warriors, or that they were the fastest or wisest men of Sparta.

He said that he chose his men based on the character of their wives and mothers.

He expected that they wouldn’t be returning home from this battle. He knew that the wives and mothers were going to be grieving for their sons and husbands, but he also knew that they would grieve courageously and they would stand strong in the face of their loss.

He felt that the rest of Greece would be watching these women and would either be emboldened by their reaction or discouraged.

The Spartans ended up holding the Persians off long enough that Greece was able to save itself, but the Spartan men lost their lives when they were betrayed.

This story shakes me up for two reasons.

First, am I going to be able to raise sons that are going to be able to realize that they are a part of something greater than themselves and would willingly sacrifice themselves in order to support that bigger cause? Second, am I willing to sacrifice them for that cause?

Am I ready to watch my sons be a part of that greater cause and let them go?

For me, there is nothing more important than the salvation God provided for me by sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate “cause” for which I hope to send them out.


All of a sudden, feeding my family has taken on new meaning. Each bedtime brings me closer to that day.

Noah and Aidan

Perhaps I’m being a little dramatic, but I think that overall, this has been my response to this challenge. I never realized to this degree that I am raising sons that I will have to send away. I may not be sending them to a war, but the fact of the matter is that I will be sending them away in some sense no matter where I am sending them — whether it is to be married, or even just to be on their own.

So this is my primary goal — to be the mother that instructs my sons in the Lord and teaches them that there is a cause greater than themselves, and then courageously and completely gives my sons up that cause.

My secondary goal is this — to raise the kind of sons that I am proud to give to their wives because I know that they will take care of them, defend them, protect them, cherish them, and regularly lead them to the foot of the cross. I want them to be the fathers that raise their children to fear the Lord.

I am raising Spartans.

Lord, bless my efforts, and bless my sons.

What about you? Are there any books that have totally changed your whole perspective on parenting? Leave me a comment! 


Mary Jean Schraufnagel

about 6 years ago

Hayley, it is a great responsibility to raise sons; yours are lucky to have you and that you have such a strong conviction to that end. I am so proud to call you daughter-in-law! Love you and your Mary heart and Martha hands and your adorable little Spartans!


Amy Thedinga

about 6 years ago

Hayley, I am undone at your description of the heavy responsibility to raise sons (and daughter in my case) that honor Christ and give sacrificially to his cause. May he bless your efforts indeed and mine as well. You have a gift with words my friend and an avid reader in me. :)


Hayley Schraufnagel

about 6 years ago

Amy, I'm with you! "Undone" is the perfect way to describe how I feel so many times in raising sons! Thanks for reading and for your sweet comments! I'm so glad you'll keep reading! :)


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