My sons are no longer the little boys they were even just two years ago. I’ve had to come to grips with the fact they no longer quietly grab my hand as we stroll through Target (of course, we still stroll through Target. Obvi.), or want to go to McDonald’s Play Place or ask for toys at Christmas. At almost 12 years old and almost 11 years old, they are tweens on the heels of their teen sister. The conversations are hilarious and I love this stage just as much as those sweet stages of years past. But I won’t lie . . . sometimes, I long to throw them on my hip and snuggle their blonde little tow-heads smelling of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. Truthfully, I’m aware we are in the ultimate sweet spot of parenting. No one is driving so I know where they are at all times. They still love me and want to hang out with me (for the most part). And we can, gasp, leave them alone for a few hours while the mister and I go out for a date WITHOUT HIRING A BABYSITTER. It’s divine and much less painful at the end of the night when we realize how much we’ve spent to go out to dinner and pay a sitter (which, might I add, is always worth it.) Of course, our fourteen year old daughter loves this but that’s just what happens when you’re the oldest.
Yet I have to say . . . I’m a little concerned for my sons. They are good boys. They’re being raised to have integrity, to do the right thing even when no one is watching. They’re being raised to be respectful of women. They’re being raised to look for those who need friends and feel left-out. They’re being raised to strive for excellence, to not accept mediocrity, to push themselves harder when they feel like giving up – but also understand when it’s time to release it to God.
It’s exhausting, this parenting gig. And parenting girls is different in a lot of ways. We’ll talk about that another time because for today, I want to talk about our boys.
In this era of #MeToo, I’ve watched good men be villainized for simply having the unfortunate luck of being born male. Now, before you send me hate mail, please know I would never side against a woman who has been sexually assaulted in any way. I am a strong advocate for the Church doing better when it comes to physical, psychological, and verbal survivors of abuse. My boys are taught that no always means no, that girls and women are to be respected and protected, and they are to defend them if they ever see anything happening that shouldn’t be.
But I’m concerned for them simply because . . . God made them boys. It seems like in today’s culture, it’s not OK for them them to be masculine anymore.
Our culture waters-down their maleness out of fear because if we can clip their biology, then we don’t have to worry about sexual assault. Just watch the commercials and TV shows of today – men are portrayed as bumbling idiots that can’t find their way out of a paper bag. Once you become aware of this, you’ll notice it even more.
I know the phrase “Boys will be boys” is controversial and when used as it pertains to sexual assault, it’s not acceptable in any way.
Yet boys will be boys in that they will be loud. They will wrestle and knock over furniture (I have bought five new lamps in the past two years). They leave sweaty socks ALL OVER THE HOUSE. They can’t help but love those dang video games. And they laugh incessantly over anything having to do with poop. Which, might I add, they never grow out of because well . . . there’s an older male that lives at my house that joins in, too.
When my daughter has friends over, they are definitely loud. But they don’t wrestle. She doesn’t love video games. No one is talking about poop. And the socks . . . well, let’s just say it’s far less with her.
Girls are different from boys. Boys are different from girls. Women are different from men. Men are different from women. There is purpose in that.
But until we protect our boys and make them believe they are not how they are portrayed by the media or the loud culture feeding them lies, we run the risk of the self-fulfilling prophecy, which simply means we become what we are expected to become. If we hear we are something long enough, then the label becomes reality. Psychology 101.
Not all men are sexual predators. Not all men are abusive. Not all men are chauvinistic pigs. There are just as many females who fit that criteria and I’m sure as heck thankful I’m not labeled a certain way based on the behavior of another group of women.
The war against good men has to stop – for the sake of our young sons. For if we want to see change in the world, that’s where it starts. We must feed our boys truth. We must teach them to look for ways in which their gender is stereotyped as buffoons (and girls as well – but they are sexualized instead of made to look like idiots. We’ll talk about that soon.) and refuse to believe it. They must know that God created them to be men for a reason and all the good things men do – and women.
We must teach our sons to rise-up, despite the stereotypes thrown in their faces each day. My husband has been reading The Way of the Warrior Kid (thanks, Pastor Eric!) with my boys before bed each night and a new phrase in our house is “Warrior up!”
Warrior up, boys. Warrior up to the truth of who you really are. Warrior up to fighting the stereotypes that say you’re a sex-crazed idiot. Warrior up and speak out against those boys and men who contribute to these stereotypes. Warrior up to loving other well – regardless of race, or beliefs, or gender.
It takes courage to be a masculine male these days, boys. Guard that responsibility wisely.
YES! Your post is spot-on, Natalie! Thank you for so beautifully putting this into words. I have been continually heartbroken at pop culture’s never-ending portrayal of men as dumb, sloppy-looking sidekicks for super-smart, super-beautiful women. We need to raise our boys to be strong, confident men who are comfortable and grateful to be men, fulfilling the roles God intended for them.