Imagine you embark on a hike through the woods with two of your sons and your foot stumbles on something. You pick the item up and knock off the years of dirt. You do not recognize it, but on examination it appears to be some sort of tool. Obviously designed to do something, but what?
You hope the features will give clues to its purpose. What was this created to be? Your investigation is interrupted as a walnut hurls past your head. It was launched by one of your sons and intended for his brother on the other side of you. Another walnut whizzes past your head from the opposite side. Distracted with your pondering, you unwittingly stood in the midst of a walnut war.
Are you observing just another episode of chaos breaking out or are you observing a specific design in your sons? Their characteristics were created for a purpose. Even their delight in beaning their brother with a walnut is evidence of their design. The raw material in a young boy cannot be missed.
These qualities sometimes take the form of, or look like, bad behavior which needs correction, such as turning everything he touches into a weapon. But think of these behaviors as ones to be directed rather than corrected and consider how parents take a vital role in this task.
During the various stages of a boy’s development, these qualities will take on different looks, morph, and exchange places for the most dominant of the moment. It is critical for parents to recognize and foster these qualities in their boys. What is the Creator’s plan for you and your sons?
In Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants, Douglas Wilson says:
“Men are created to exercise dominion over the earth; they are fitted to be husbandmen, tilling the earth; they are equipped to be saviors, delivering from evil; they are expected to grow up into wisdom, becoming sages; and they are designed to reflect the image and glory of God.”
Parents, as you teach, train, and direct your son, consider these five aspects of manhood, according to Wilson:
Lords: Our boys always wanted to conquer the land, whether the back yard, the woods behind our house, or the family farm. Even when young, they evaluated every location for its potential for building an impregnable fort. Boys should learn to be lords in the earth, adventurous, and visionary.
Husbandmen: In preparation for manhood, boys must learn to be hardworking. In their work, encourage them to be patient and careful.
Saviors: Boys must learn to be strong, sacrificial, courageous, and good.
Sages: Boys naturally want to “know stuff.” They want to be smart and appear smart to others. Boys must learn to be thoughtful, teachable, and studious. Show them the masculinity of wisdom, books, and intellectual discussion. Sitting around the dinner table discussing important topics should be exciting. We want our boys to aspire to have something of value to share with others and wisdom to impart to their own sons and daughters.
Glory-bearers: Men should fulfill their responsibility to be representative, responsible, and holy. We must teach our boys to embrace this same responsibility.
Whether your son is four years old, fourteen or twenty-four, you see these qualities in them. Model appropriate expression and point them out to your son as being good.
Have faith! Look at the present and see what it will become—through grace, good works, discipline, and training. Know your little boys are future men. God designed and gifted them in unique ways to one day fulfill their role and position of manhood. Celebrate your son’s desire to exercise dominion over the earth, build something, deliver from evil, gather new information, and reflect the image of God.
Have you heard, “Boys will be boys?” The truth is, we must allow and encourage boys to be boys. Do you recognize the five aspects of manhood in your son?
How can you find the balance between correcting and directing your son’s behavior? How do you give him opportunities to display his gifts in appropriate ways?
Moms, explore ways you can affirm God-given qualities in both your husband and your son.
Resources: Douglas Wilson, Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2001)
**Adapted from Chapter 20, Raising Kids for Tomorrow’s World: 12 Keys to Preserving the Faith