I read about it years ago: the confusion, lack of drive and antipathy that seems rampant among young men today. It was scary then. It’s even scarier now that I have a son.
The problem is that “masculinity” is a loaded word now. You can’t talk about there being a “crisis” without dealing with the argument that masculinity comes in many forms. It’s true, and I’m no lumberjack. I am a kind of man, but I don’t meet everyone’s standards of manliness.
But what we mean by a crisis is that a generation of boys are growing up and failing to meet any definition we have of masculinity, or rather adulthood. It’s not that they are confused about their gender. We mean that they lack ambition, obsess over video games, watch porn instead of date women, and generally lack the hustle that young men are supposed to have.
I don’t think it’s too early for me to be thinking about this, because God only knows what my son will have to deal with when he is a teenager. But I’m going to do my best to help my son grow up to be a whole, happy, healthy man.
There are a few things that all boys today need to become men.
Protection From the Media
The media is often faulted for its portrayal and exploitation of women and undoubtedly, it causes a lot of harm to young girls. The same exploitation of women harms young boys as well. But when I say I’m protecting my son from the media, I mean the media’s negative portrayals and exploitation of men.
We might be turning a corner, but there is still far too much portrayal of men as incompetent, lazy, bumbling, sexually inadequate, and generally useless. Sure, Phil Dunphee is funnier than Claire, because she is the straight man, the foil to Phil’s buffoonishness. And one bumbling Dad doesn’t make the world stop. But when all the men on TV have morphed from Ward Cleaver to Homer Simpson, it’s not a great image for my son.
A Tech-Free Room
I am going to flat out say that I refuse to understand any parents who put a television or computer in their teenager’s room. It makes no sense whatsoever. Computers belong in the dining room or den because they are for homework or games. Nothing good happens when computers move to the bedroom.
Maybe it’s something about this generation of parents right now, a little too old to have had computers in their homes as teenagers, but there still seem to be a lot of parents who do not understand how easily a computer becomes a porn machine. Same goes for cell phones. The average age that a child receives a cell phone is six. What? Give the six-year-old a walkie-talkie when he rides his bike around the neighborhood. A lifeline when he needs it, hold the nudity.
Video games get a lot of blame too. I grew up with games, but the nature of games is so much different today than it was in the golden age of gaming. You know what my kid is getting for Christmas if he wants a game console? My Super Nintendo, and the best instruction manual and game guide around: his dad.
I also do not understand why there is such a continuous push for the public schools to constantly do more when it comes to sex education.
Well, actually, I do understand.
It’s because parents are cowards.
Parents act like sissies when it comes to giving their kids the facts of life, then they get mad when the public schools go too far. You wonder why our boys are sexually confused? Because Dads are failing to tell them what they need to know, not just about sex, but relationships. My son’s relationships with women will be one of his biggest sources of pleasure or misery, and a lot of it has to do with me having the balls to tell him how to avoid the misery.
Tell Him About God
The reason our boys are sexually confused is the same reason they are spiritually confused.
It’s because too many Christian parents are cowards.
Sunday School lessons might give a tidy moral tale, and the crafts are cute, but they do not answer the tough questions of life. Parents need to bone up, own their faith, and be able to be honest with their teenagers about their spiritual struggles. Parents need to be honest about God, tell their kids that He is so much bigger, so much more complex than what they were able to know when they were six years old, but He is also so much more loving. A God for six-year-olds does not satisfy a sixteen-year-old, or keep him in the faith.
No matter what else I fail at, I can do one thing.
I can hug my boy.
I can hug him when he’s happy.
I can hug him when he’s upset.
I can hug him when his heart is broken.
I wonder how many problems could be solved or avoided, with just a little human touch.