So what’s a parent to do? This article is the first in a two-part series in which I address this issue with the help of Dannah Gresh. In her book Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy, she offers positive, practical tips that any parent can use.
Way #1: Get Him Outside to Play
Play is such an important part of every child’s life. In a culture of Wii and Xbox, Gresh states that the best thing for your child to play with is nothing at all. She isn’t advocating a toyless home, but rather a place where kids can use their imagination and creative skills to find the props they need for playtime. It is important to allow boys to take part in constructive “old-fashioned” play, including building forts, and playing tag and kick the can. It is important to allow your son the flexibility to create his own games and activities in order to develop executive functioning within his tween and teenage brain. Executive functioning in turn builds appropriate character, morals, and standards, while instilling the quality of self-control. Believe it or not, play and creativity are important. So keep encouraging your son to play as long as you can.
Way #2: Give Him a Book So He Can Discover a Real “Call of Duty”
According to Harry Truman, “Leaders are readers.” If this is true, and if we want to grow our boys into Godly men, then teaching boys a love of reading is a priority for a parent. In today’s world, a boy will average 35 hours a week in front of a screen. As a result, boys aren’t reading as much as they used to, they are getting less sleep than they need, and they are confused about their “call of duty” as young men. It is essential to set limits on screen time and teach your son to self-monitor his gaming. Introduce him to books at a young age and allow him to choose books that interest him. Gresh advocates avoiding too many books that exploit flatulence and “grossology,” as well as books that blur the lines between good and evil. Encourage him to read books that will push him to be more than he is.
Way #3: Host Wing Nights and Fantasy Football Parties
So what do chicken wings and football parties have to do with your son? It is important to choose to do things that will tell your son that he is becoming a man. It is important to let your son venture out with his father (or a father figure). Let them seek adventure together by fishing, camping, or hiking. Trust your son with your money by sending him out to buy a gallon of milk. Initiate him into the adult male community of your extended family and of your family of faith. Consider a “rite of passage” ceremony, as this will set a critical memorial to his masculinity. And make sure to set aside time to talk to him about sex, something I discuss further in the next article in this series.
A Christian Counselor Can Support You as You Raise Your Tween Boy
As a Christian counselor, I am aware that raising boys in today’s over-sexualized and emasculating culture is very difficult and can be discouraging at times. If you need help or support in raising a flourishing, confident tween boy, then you may want to consider speaking to a trained Christian counselor. I’d be happy to assist you in your journey.
Gresh, D. and Gresh, B. (2012). Six Ways To Keep The “Good” in Your Boy: Guiding Your Son From Tween to His Teens. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers.
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