Since I wrote part 1 of the Raising Boys Blog, I’ve had some further thoughts on essential principles for raising a godly man. So here we go!
Four: Boys need a mother to cuddle
As much as boys need a dad to wrestle with, they also need a mom to cuddle with (and occasionally wrestle with as well, just to keep them humble.) The way I view parental roles in the life of a child goes something like this: For the first 10-12 years it is the job of a mother to keep their father from putting the kids into potentially life-threatening situations (i.e. “Sure, you should climb to the top of that tree, son!” “Sure, you should see how fast your new dirt bike goes!” “Sure you can stay up until 4am and eat candy in your treehouse with your friends until you puke your brains out!”) but then roles change a little bit and in the pre-teen years the father helps to release some of that nurturing safety net from around the child so they can gradually become more independent. (No examples needed.)
All that being said, to know that there is a mom waiting for you with a hug and a band-aid for when you fall out of the tree, or break up with your high school sweetheart, or even panic as a young dad, is God’s gift to all men. A boy needs a mother. Dads, this will not turn your son soft it will help them grow into a healthy young man. In fact, you might do well to call your mom right now to say you love her.
Five: Teach them to protect family
Boys are made with a different kind of protective instinct that girls. Don’t hear me wrong! Girls and women definitely have protective instincts. (You should have SEEN my mom when at 6 years old and visiting relatives in Jerusalem a kind gentleman took me down the street for 7up without her knowing… I’m not sure he made it.) Unfortunately, in our crazy, upside down culture, strong men are not celebrated, even while strong women are (and justifiably.)
Our boys, if they are going to develop into godly men, need to understand that they have a role to play in protecting those who are important to God. That means on the playground, if they are being punched, they don’t punch back, but if a weaker kid is being picked on they step in. (First with words, then by going to those in authority, but if neither works, by putting themselves between the assailant and victim.)
That is on the playground or street, but the training starts at home.
The first way we protect our family is by speaking with respect towards our elders. This means in front of them and when they aren’t around; which means, you need to speak appropriately about your in-laws as well, especially in front of your children. We also protect our family by spending time with our family; family is more important than friends. When we spend time with our family, we practice kindness and exercise confession and forgiveness when kindness is forgotten. It also means that when younger siblings start school, older siblings walk with them, show them around, wave to them on the playground and brag about them to their friends. That is protecting family.
Six: Normalize, don’t hide from their sexuality
It is incredibly important that we are normal about sexuality and help our kids to see their developing bodies and minds as normal as well. The reality is we live in a highly sexualized world and that will make things very difficult for your children as they enter puberty and young adulthood, but what you don’t want to do is make them fearful of what God has called good. Our bodies, both male and female, were created with a purpose and design in mind and just because that design and purpose can be abused and perverted doesn’t make the original plan bad!
What this means is that you celebrate and help your boys anticipate becoming a man. When our first son was a toddler we bought him a toy shaving kit so he could sit on the sink and shave like daddy. We’ve been examining for chest hair for a long time! We have never discouraged our boys from talking about the girls they have a crush on, or those they plan to marry. And as they have grown older we have spoken frankly about the dangers of the internet, what sex is all about, what masturbation is and where it can lead, and how to confess our sins without fear of being shamed.
Instead of dreading the developmental teen years and all the new struggles that are introduced into the lives of our boys, we should celebrate the fact that they growing into young men who will make amazing husbands and dads one day – especially if they stick with God’s original purpose and design. A plan, which by the way, to hammer home a point, includes the freedom to confess when we make mistakes, restore those who have fallen prey to sin, and accept the forgiveness and payment for our sins that God has offered us through the cross.
Plan for purity, extend grace.
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