In my previous article I shared three of the six ways that can help parents to navigate the treacherous terrain of raising a boy in an emasculating culture. In this article, I summarize three additional ways that Dannah Gresh offers in her book, Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy.
Way #4: Celebrate His Entrance into Manhood
During the tween years, your son’s body will visibly change. Although less visible than the changes in a girl’s body during puberty, a boy’s body will experience changes that require teaching him how to care for himself. During this time it is important to talk to your son about his changing emotions, his need for more sleep, his aggressive behavior, and his growing sexual awareness. Gresh warns moms about the possible growing distance they will experience from their sons. This is not a personal attack on you as his mom. Instead, it is growing evidence of why his dad is so very important in your son’s life during the tween and teen years. Celebrate his emerging manhood with open communication about girls, his body, and the pursuit of purity.
Way #5: Unplug Him from a Plugged-In World
One of the biggest enemies of your son’s goodness will be his battle against pornography. Roughly 42% of kids aged 10-17 have viewed porn in the last 12 months. For many of these kids, this will be the start of a lifelong battle with pornography. In helping your son to learn helpful ways to win this battle, Gresh offers three suggestions. First, filter your son’s screen time by using software such as Safe Eyes or Covenant Eyes. Second, blocking and filtering alone is not enough ̶ you also need to train him to choose to “block” himself by offering him practical tools to help him in the fight. Third, monitor his screen time by setting good boundaries and acting as an example of healthy screen use. Talking openly about the dangers of porn is important. Let him know that he isn’t the only one who struggles and provide him with helpful resources as he pursues purity.
Way #6: Let Him Open the Car Door for You
In a “me first” culture, it is a challenge to train our boys to be respectful gentlemen. God wants us to have an “others first” attitude. It is important to teach our boys that family comes first and that a husband and father has important roles in the family. Teach him a solid work ethic and the importance of caring for his family. Help him to understand the importance of pursuing a wife of noble character by using practical teaching moments to show him the difference between aggressive girls and Godly girls. Decide on family standards for dating and talk about them openly. Remind him that the purity of his relationships with women is his responsibility, not theirs, and define the boundaries clearly for him. Teach him to put girls and women first by teaching old-fashioned chivalry. Teach him the Word of God and encourage him to share it with others.
The Importance of Prayer
If you don’t get anything else out of this article, please understand this one important thing: your son has a real enemy in our culture and it is Satan himself. Satan is constantly trying to kill his self-discipline, steal his sense of calling, and destroy his heart of integrity. This is a battle. And it is a spiritual battle that requires prayer. Gresh offers helpful hints on how to pray for your son.
- Pray for self-control, based on Proverbs 25:28
- Pray for honor and responsibility, based on Proverbs 31:8-9
- Pray for purpose and community, based on Proverbs 13:20
- Pray for purity, based on Job 31:1
- Pray for integrity of heart, based on Proverbs 4:23 and Psalm 101:2-4
- Pray for a loving heart, based on 2 Timothy 3:1-5
You may want to read the book The Power of a Praying Parent to help you. You may find joy and strength from joining a prayer group such as Moms in Prayer. These groups are for moms, grandmas, aunts, or any woman who has the desire to pray for children and schools. You can find a group in your area at a local school, homeschool group, or college.
A Christian Counselor Can Support You as You Raise Your Tween Boy
It is your responsibility as a parent to assist your son as he grows and matures into a man. 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.
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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