Raising Men…but not yet.

I want my boys to grow up to be strong men who are loyal and hard-working, honest and kind. We work toward this daily with our training and teaching, as well as our discipline and work. It is not an easy job because we will not know how it turns out for some time now. I want to keep the perspective though.They are still young boys and not yet men.

thru the lens

I want them to envision what type of job and responsibilities they will have. Sometimes I talk to them about their wives and future families. I want them to think about and discern the type of wife and mother of their children they hope to marry. I want them to create an imagine of themselves as independent men and caring, loving husbands. Mostly, I want them to see themselves as Men of God, standing for His Word and loving those who need Him. But they are not there yet.

Recently we have visited many friends and family as well as local libraries and stores. I have repeatedly heard folks, both men and women, asking other children if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend. I have heard teasing about children “dating” and if they are holding others’ hands or kissing. Mostly the children being asked are embarrassed and giggle. But, each time we talk to children about more adult or mature topics, we are encouraging them toward that end.

According to the US Dept of Heath for Adolescent Health, in 2013 there were 26.6 births out of 1000 in the US to teen moms (15-19) and for 1/6th of those, it was NOT their first birth.  89% of those births occurred outside of marriage, according to the notes. On the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies website, in 2013 there were over a quarter of a million (274,641) teen births. This is saying nothing of the terminated pregnancies, just births. The site also notes that teen pregnancies have declined in the last decades; however, it still states that a staggering $9.4 was spent in 2013 on childbearing for teens. They also noted that even though the rate is down, 3/10 girls will become pregnant before they is 20 years old.

Now, I know that statistics can be arranged to look good and bad as the reporter would like, so I often do not put too much stock into them.  When I wanted to know about the US National teen pregnancy rate, I did what all educated folks do today, I googled it! 😉  But joking aside, as you well know, teen pregnancy is something that affects all of us. We don’t need statistics to tell us that it is alive and well all around us. We all know young women who became pregnant before they were ready to be.

So, what am I really talking about today? I am talking about the adults in the lives of children speaking life and love and perspective into their lives. Speak respect and truth. I am talking about adults NOT asking a kindergartner if he has not been holding a girl’s hand. I am encouraging parents not to tease fourth graders about not “going with” someone. I am begging parents not to put clothes on a little girl which draws sexual attention to her body. I am praying that family will not laugh at my boys when they don’t have girlfriends in the 8th grade. I am talking about adults allowing children to be children.

Recently, I have come across Facebook posts with photos that make me want to say, “Get some perspective! Let them be children!” One was of two first graders, one kissing the other on the cheek while they held hands. The caption said, “First Loves.” Another post was of two tween/teens wearing “I am his” and “I am her” t-shirts. The kids had interlaced arms and big grins. Another still showed little girls going off to school with parental comments noting that their “style” will really draw some (boy) attention. I know that we often joke and tease and think it is cute for children who seem to be doing adult things, but if we encourage our kindergartner to dress like a 25 year old, our first grader to hold hands, our third graders to kiss, our sixth graders to be “claimed” by someone else, how long will it be before they are moving forward to more mature and adult activities: the activities of marriage?

Why not let them be children? Why not encourage them to be kind to others and to play and run? Why not encourage them to work their bodies hard and respect themselves? Why not love them and teach them about marriage IN THE FUTURE?

If you ask my boys about girlfriends, I hope they will (politely, ahem) tell you that they are not old enough to support a wife.This might sound odd in today’s standards, but I want my boys to think about attachment with intimacy connected to permanence and marriage. I don’t want it to be thrown out when the t-shirt is too small to wear anymore.

We, as the adults, are where it starts.Talk to your boys about being good husbands and dads. Share stories of men doing just that. Show them examples and work on skills with them. Build up women as ones to be loved and cherished, protected and honored. Keep intimacy for marriage and forms of pre-intimacy to closer to marriage.  The sooner they start on the path, the sooner they will arrive at it.

Love your boys! They will one day be men…but not yet!

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