Raising young men isn’t as easy as it looks on the Brady Bunch. And for some time, the Church has been amiss in training up fruitful young men. But there is hope. What has been lost can be recovered and we don’t have to do it alone.
One of the most beautiful things about the Church its that is a community of people with a variety of life experiences. Most have people who have been walking with Jesus for 30 years or more and have the wisdom to impart into tough situations, like raising young men. No one should ever parent in a vacuum.
The roles of a father and mother differ slightly when it comes to raising a man. Men teach boys different things than women do. Both are necessary. But this is about what fathers teach boys. I will write about what women teach boys later this week.
This seems unmanly, but one of the main things we teach and model for our young boys is emotion. To the extent that we are a crier, or a yeller, or a stoic, usually our boys will follow. My father was a yeller and because of that negative impact on me, I have made a conscious effort in my life not to be a yeller. However, in moments when I am tired, frustrated, or stressed, that temper rears its ugly head and I think, “That sounded just like my dad.” We need to remember that every interaction is hard-wiring our kids, for good or evil. That is not to say that yelling at your son for hitting his sister is bad, but someone who only yells or only disciplines is wiring that reaction into his son.
If you tend toward one or another, you need to make every effort toward self-control in order to model that for you son. Certainly his mother will show him the softer side, but seeing a man be able to control his emotions and not be so one-dimensional is key to growing a man who will on day himself be a loving husband and father.
Have you ever heard someone say, “He doesn’t know his own strength.” That’s a problem. The incidents of domestic violence in this country are astounding. Something like 1 in 10 women and 1 in 15 men experience some form of domestic violence. Here are three more stats that shocked me:
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
- Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
We want our boys to grow up big and strong and so we feed them right, get them involved in team sports and so on, but we don’t help them to know their own strength. One thing that does this, especially in young children, is playful wrestling with dad. You may never have considered this before, but think about why every little boy I have ever met loves to wrestle and climb on their dad. Why is that? Maybe is it because God intended those times in a young boys life to help discover how to appropriately apply his strength?
In this, he learns to be physical, have fun, but not injure (though every dad knows we take our share of feet to the stones in the process). It helps hard-wire a knowledge of their strength and a great sense of play. I don’t know that the study has been done, but I would wager that there is a much lower incidence of domestic violence in men who wrestled with their dad as a kid.
The man is the leader of the home. Well, at least he is supposed to be. Young men pick up on the successes or failures in this arena far more than we may realize. If a young man grows up in a home where the man is not the leader or he is absent in some way, he my desire to lead his home later in life, and have all the best intentions, but he simply won’t know how. It is one thing to say that you want to lead your home, but if it was never modeled for you, you don’t know the practical how-to’s. As dads, we model that for them (though first, we may need to ask someone to begin to model them for us first).
It’s profoundly simple really. How well do you love your wife? I dance with mine in front of my kids. They think it’s silly, and it is, but it demonstrates a playful love that I want my kids to have in their marriage.
I don’t abide by my son talking back or being aggressive with my wife. Do what you want to me, but that’s my wife before she’s his mother. It models protection and discipline.
I engage my son in loving and serving his sister and mother. I want to teach him servant leadership. He’s only two, but over the course of his young life, he will understand how to love and lead others through hard work and service.
I am also a little tougher on my son when it comes to conduct than I am with my daughter (though she gets her share of time-outs too…) because much of what it means to be a man and a leader is to take responsibility. As he grows, we want to keep that standard high and to hold him accountable to what God requires of him (Micah 6:8).
All told, it takes years of consistent, thoughtful parenting to raise a successful and fruitful young man. It isn’t easy. Any parent will tell you that. It involves pain, disappointment, complete and total joy, giddy excitement, and everything in between. And its also one of the highest callings you can dream of. Imagine what our churches would be like if there were multiple generations of Godly men leading through service, loving their families, and setting God as their priority. That dream starts with you and your son.
to read the Mom’s Edition, click here.