Raising masculine boys today is a challenge especially when they are bombarded with wrong messages of what it is to be a man. It seems our culture is slipping away from valuing truly manly men – traditionally masculine men and fathers (gentlemen) – who lead their home, personal lives, and family well.
And a caveat: I am not talking about the wide range of God-given physical features or strength here. A man doesn’t need to be ruggedly built or look a certain way to be a wise, capable leader. And if there is a disability, the work becomes that of developing the mind and the inner spirit of the man. Hard work doesn’t always have to be physical.
Recently, there was a J. Crew ad with the company’s president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting the toenails of her son Beckett. She had painted his toenails pink and stated, “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”
“This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity,” psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a Health column about the ad. Media Research Center’s Erin Brown agreed, calling the ad “blatant propaganda celebrating trans-gendered children.”
“Not only is Beckett likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna’s indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future,” Brown wrote in an opinion piece Friday.” J.CREW, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, trans-gendered identity politics.”
However, to some people (like the writer of this article), “it seems innocent — and even cute: a photo of a mom and her young son laughing adorably as she paints his toenails hot pink.” Mainstream media declared “So what? It’s just painting his nails.”
I don’t believe it. Let’s not confuse our sons with mixed messages especially with something as important as gender identity. Unfortunately, they are getting these messages in the public school system.
Although our two sons are now men and no longer little boys, I want to raise an alert. The world is feminizing our little boys and teaching little girls to be more masculine. Our culture is blurring the lines between genders and showering scorn on those that hold to the way God designed us to be man and woman. Clothing design, mainstream media, campus housing, marriage, and sports are only a few areas in which we see this happening.
Raising Boys is a Special Job
Raising our boys is a special job, and we must take it seriously.
I’m so thankful that God has blessed us with two sons to mold and teach to become young men. It was obvious that they wanted to be like their Daddy long before they could be encouraged in any one direction by others.
Little boys naturally want to be just like their dad. I would often ask one of them, “Can you please help me carry these grocery bags. I need somebody big and strong to help me.” They would come running to help me, showing me their muscles and telling me how strong they were. Both would say, “I’m big and strong like Daddy.” They wanted to be manly men, just like their father. They saw their dad opening the door for me and so they did, too.
They would be climbing trees or way up into the 3-story barn rafters (I do not recommend this!) or trying to fix or figure out something mechanical or making their sticks into weapons with out the help of a TV to give them ideas.
We decided early to ditch the TV so we would have time to really ‘do life’.
A boy needs to know how to get dirty and then clean up!
I wish I could find the picture of them shoveling manure at my husband’s family’s dairy barn.
Also, they need to learn to value a good book or grilling steaks as much as a romp in the woods or wrestling each other.
Boys To Men
Boys need to be able to take some risks, to be allowed to get hurt so they know how to deal with pain and stress. They need to know how to work hard and think critically under the guidance of a manly teacher. They need to be exhorted to holiness in their thought-life, and they need to play hard, too. Boys need to be equipped to be fathers of boys someday!
“The mind of a child is naturally active, it develops through exercise. Give a child plenty of exercise, for body and brain. The trouble with our way of educating is that it does not give elasticity to the mind. It casts the brain into a mold. It insists that the child must accept. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning, and it lays more stress on memory than observation.” ~ Thomas A. Edison
It occurs to me to say that we did and still are doing this very imperfectly. While these photos might portray a picture-perfect family, we are not perfect – not by a long shot – and I don’t pretend we had or have it all together. The grace we are presently experiencing (on and off – Ha) is only achieved through much time spent on our knees. We still have so much growing to do.
Please do not use this post to beat your husband over the head. It will only do harm.
The book Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys by Hal Young and Melanie Young is VERY HELPFUL!
But what if there is no father in the home?
My heart aches for the mother of boys with no father in the house; Mama, do not despair! 2 Corinthians 6: 18 says, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” God can and will be a real Father to you and your children! Call on Him for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10: 13)
Pray earnestly for someone to come alongside to be a masculine father figure in their life. Often a grandfather can be that man, provided his input will be edifying.
Further, the Bible has something to say about the role of a mother that is vitally important.
Paul, the Apostle, talking to his spiritual son Timothy, said, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.“ (2 Timothy 1:5)
Mothers can raise godly, masculine young men without a father with the help of Almighty God. “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19: 26) and “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18: 14)