My 7-year-old son says he’s never getting married, that instead he’s going to live in a house with his best friends where they’ll spend their days lazily floating in their indoor pool while simultaneously playing Lego Avengers on their Xbox 360. When asked how they’d survive, food-wise, he said they’d build a robot to bring their food to them in the pool. When asked how they’d earn money to pay for said food, he said they wouldn’t need to, because we (their moms and dads) would buy it for them.
I’ve gotta give him credit; he dreams big.
Also, I’ve officially cut him off financially and he’s now working a 40-hour work week in preparation for adulthood. Apparently he’s watched one too many episodes of Richie Rich and has quite a bit of catching up to do when it comes to understanding finances and the reality of his situation. Let’s just say that I’m leaving him an inheritance of fond memories, and that’s all I can promise.
In all seriousness, my son has zero, zilch, nada interest in girls, which I’m more than okay with. I know the surge of hormones is coming soon enough, and I’m trying to soak up the remainder of this season of innocence while I can.
Raising boys terrifies me. Raising my daughter isn’t a cakewalk, either, but I feel like I have more access to her heart and her thoughts than I do my boys.’ She expresses herself (abundantly), and she verbally processes everything. We talk (or she talks) a lot.
My boys? Our conversations typically consist of me asking questions and them offering one-word answers.
“Good morning, son! Did you have any good dream last night?” (YES...then, “Can you make me breakfast?”)
“You did an awesome job in your game, dude! What was the best part?” (DUNNO...then, “Can I have a snack?”)
“How was your first day at your new school?” (GOOD...then, “Can I go play?”)
“How does your throat feel?” (FINE...then, “can I play video games?”) *I asked him this three hours after a tonsillectomy/adnoidectomy, and multiple times a day, every day, for two weeks; his answer never changed.
I can’t imagine navigating puberty with them. I just can’t. I know I’ll make it, and that God will give my husband and me just what we need to meet their many needs, but I just can’t see it right now.
I want to raise sons who revere women.
I want them to be men of honor who put wisdom and respect for daughters of the Most High ahead of the desires of their penises. I want to raise sons who lead by example, not in order to make God love them more or to make their parents happy, but because they realize how deeply they’re loved by God, and that the standard He calls them (and us) to is for their good and protection.
I want this more than I can say, and yet I’m terrified that I’ll somehow fail my boys. The culture they’re growing up in will make every attempt to thwart God’s plans for them, and for us to raise men that stand apart and honor God with their lives will require some major swimming upstream. In Colorado river-eque rapids. In sub-freezing temperatures. My spiritual quads are not currently prepared for this task, and I know I need to get spiritually fit for this battlefield.
The question is, how do I teach my sons to respect women when today’s culture degrades women? Actually, I should clarify. Current culture degrades beautiful women. If you’re an unattractive woman, well...culture doesn’t even acknowledge your existence, because somehow physical beauty has become directly equated with a woman's inherent value.
Culture tells our boys that their relationships with women should be built around two things: beauty and sex (and not necessarily in that order). It teaches male dominance and a lack of personal responsibility in their sexual relationships (as has been highlighted recently in the wake of the Stanford University/Brock Turner case). It blows my mind that in a day and age when we’re willing to fight so hard for equality, it’s somehow still acceptable for songs with lyrics like the following to blast across the airwaves on our mainstream Top 40 radio stations, the stations that cater to the most easily influenced members of our society:
You know this d*ck ain't free!
I got girls that I shoulda made pay for it
Got girls that I should made wait for it
Got girls that'll cancel a flight back home
Stay another day for it
You got attitude on na na
And your p*ssy on agua
And your stomach on flat flat
And your a$$ on what's that?
And, yeah, I need it all right now
Last year I had drama, girl not right now
I was never gon' chat what we talkin' about
You the only one I know could fit it all in her... man
I know you workin' day and night to get a college degree
Bet nobody that you've been with even know you a freak, right?
You know you only do that with me, right?
Yeah, double checkin' on you
You know I never put the pressure on you
You know that you make your own mind up
You knew what it was when you signed up
I always wonder if you ask yourself
Is it just me? Is it just me?
Or is this sex so good I shouldn't have to f*ck for free?
What a gem. You can thank DJ Khaled (feat. Drake) for that little diddy. He definitely doesn’t lack for self confidence, does he? And why should he?
Then there’s the 50 Shades series, which teaches our boys that all of their relationships should be exciting, slightly tormented, and hyper-erotic, and teaches our girls to need a savior (with a lowercase “s”).
It’s impossible to turn on the television without seeing sexuality perverted and promiscuity rampant, and we’re programming our boys one episode at a time to think that sex is always exciting, always edgy, and always passionate. Meanwhile, the reality is that there are a bunch of tired moms and dads at home who want to keep their sex lives active but are doing so by the skin of their teeth. Quickies are an actual thing, and sometimes they’re totally what the doctor ordered, simply a quick physical connection followed by a full night’s sleep. In our house we call it “starfish sex,” because...well, I’m tired and spent and so I look like a starfish.
But our kids are being fed the lie that if sex isn’t an uber-erotic marathon that means the chemistry is gone, and it’s obviously time to end the relationship, because you shouldn't have to work at maintaining chemistry.
And we wonder why our boys are overwhelmingly commitment shy and averse to marriage.
We have quite an undertaking ahead of us if we want to raise boys who’ll become men who respect and revere women. With culture feeding them lie upon lie, we have to make sure they’re pre-saturated with God’s truth so that it’s difficult for them to absorb the principles the world offers them. We have to model, as mothers, what Godly women demand, not accepting anything less than complete respect and compassionate care from our boys.
Dads, you must, YOU MUST, lead by example. Don’t tell your sons not to watch porn and then watch porn yourselves. Don’t tell them not to objectify women and them give every woman that walks past you the once over. Don’t tell them to speak respectfully to and about women and then make a suggestive remark yourself, even if it’s to your own wife. Teach them to love selflessly and teach them how to serve the women in their lives. Teach them that marriage is built on a solid foundation, on a covenant between a man, a woman, and God, not on how smoldering hot your sex life might or might not be at the moment. Teach them the difference between sex and making love, because sex must be rooted in love.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have any of the answers. But I think this is a realistic place to start. We have to fill our boys with truth. To lead by example. To pray, hard and often, until our knees are covered in rugburn. Otherwise my son, the pride and joy of my life, will grow up to devote his life to this: