I suppose I should be thankful for the timeless cliché of “boys will be boys”. It has been used to excuse my own mischievous endeavors on many occasions during my upbringing. So, while I’m not opposed to this classic phrase, I offer a word of caution on how and when this is used.
You see, what we have in our current culture is an epidemic. Not so much in medical terms as in terms of psychological development. I’m not certain what the proper name for this would be, although I could offer many, so I’m going to call it “Little Johnny Syndrome” in homage to the tales of a rambunctious and troubled little boy always used to illustrate a dirty or inappropriate joke. I bet everyone in Little Johnny’s life during his childhood was heard to utter, “boys will be boys.”
I’m not taking the stance that there aren’t certain behaviors that are common among male children. We all know this to be true. This in itself isn’t our problem at all. Hey, if your son hears nature calling and needs to take a whiz outside, then by all means, boys will be boys. Do you have a son who wants a tool pouch, lunch box, uniform, hat, boots or anything of that nature to help him look just like dad? Classic and healthy (in most cases, depending on what dad is doing) example of a boy being a boy. This is how boys should learn, from men.
Our problem today is that few men are being men. They’re too busy blaming others for everything wrong with their life, desperately finding ways to hang with their buddies while neglecting family duties and responsibility, or knocking up a woman and heading for the hills. God forbid sex can produce children! Even worse, children require care and the child’s mother may actually expect something of you. What an unjust world! Poor men just have it so rough.
My reasoning for the widespread infection of Little Johnny Syndrome is of course, fatherlessness. However, beyond that I would suggest that “boys will be boys” has become a dangerous and harmful crutch in our society and is often used to justify or explain away behavior that should in fact offer a teachable moment that helps said boy to learn a lesson in order to become the man he’s meant to be and not the producer of another fatherless boy.
A primary example of this would be in how a boy relates to women. So many of us grew up in a time where we progressed from ogling swimsuit models to sneaking a Playboy. What’s that you say? Boys will be boys? Well, there you have it.
Mom and/or dad found out and rather than using this opportunity to have a discussion about the value and respect young men should have for women, we patted Little Johnny on the back and told him it was “normal” to look at those things, normal to be curious. Curiosity is of course normal, but curiosity unguided and left unchecked often becomes harmful.
Fast forward to Big Johnny living a life of fantasy and lust over every pair of breasts, well-shaped female bodies or provocatively dressed women he sees. Big Johnny is thrice divorced and still can’t understand why he’s unable to find a woman willing to perform Cirque de Soleil type maneuvers in his bedroom every night and allow him to sit in his recliner and drink beer during his free time. His computer is loaded with porn and he wouldn’t know how to value his wife at this point if he tried. Sadly, Big Johnny is raising a son just like him without even knowing it and his daughter is out trying to find acceptance and validation from any man that shows her attention.
What’s that you say? Don’t schools teach young men these things? Won’t they learn from other male figures? Sure. They’ll learn masturbation is normal too, but what they won’t learn is where normal stops. Certainly we don’t want to take kids back to the shameful “you’ll go blind” days but shouldn’t this development become a teaching moment to discuss self-control with your sons? Don’t most grown men realize through experience that if they never take charge over their own bodies and more specifically over their male desires, then they’ll live a broken life due to always being controlled by their addictions and desires? Don’t we owe it to our sons to let them know that yes, all boys deal with this, and although they’re not freaks, they do need to understand restraint and self-control.
If you can teach your son to master that discipline then you’ll be well on your way to having a young man with a foundation that can help him achieve true success. If you turn the “boys will be boys” blind eye (no pun intended) then you’ll have set your son up for failure and hardship that was most certainly avoidable.
It’s time for parents to stop avoiding difficult and uncomfortable topics with their sons and start using those very topics as foundations for lessons and teaching that will benefit them more than any book learning they receive at school or university.
Porn, lust, promiscuity, objectification of women are all detrimental to the fabric of our society. Just look around at the number of broken homes, marriages and lives. The numbers put together by the government may say teen pregnancy is dropping, but the underlying issue is left to grow. Our men don’t know and aren’t being raised to be men at all. They’re all just Little Johnny’s becoming Big Johnny’s under the guise of “boys will be boys”.
I’ll finish this with a word to single mothers. I apologize on behalf of men. We’ve failed you. Not only in oppressive methods such as the right to vote, own property, etc. but more importantly in being a generation of men who run. We run from marriage (sometimes right into another marriage), we run from responsibility and we run from our problems. To make matters worse, many of us blame a woman for our own bad decisions and shortcomings. These issues leave you, the child-bearer, with little choice but to suck it up and do the best you can in the best interest of your child.
With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Women are often the softer side, by nature the nurturer. Kids need both. Yes, they need you to kiss their wounds, hug them when life is hard and tuck them in at night. In the absence of a father, they need so much more. The conversations meant for the father must still be had either by you or a close and trusted male family member. These boys have to understand being men and not fall prey to our culture’s definition of normal.
If a boy grows up watching a mother and her revolving door of men, then that young man will have difficulty in respecting, trusting and truly cherishing women. He’s going to seek that type of relationship and often be doomed from the start. Two broken people, not fully understanding their internal issues, trying to find fairy-tale love. Your son needs you to be strong and respect yourself. He’ll learn so much about how he should treat women from that alone.
Mothers are fiercely protective and their sons are their babies. They react and move to shield, protect and minimize any harm. This is acceptable to a certain degree; however, too much of this and your baby will be that young man that can’t respect authority from any male figure. You may not always like your son’s coaches, teachers or friends’ fathers but so much harm can be done if you don’t raise a boy who can respect male authority. He’ll struggle in school, sports and later in his work. Enroll your son in scouts, sports or some other activity with male authority at an early age. As long as the authority refrains from being physically or verbally abusive (not by your overly protective definition) then stay out. You owe that to your son if you ever want him to be a man.
I’m not sure about the rest of you but I myself strive to raise a young man with character, integrity and godly principals. A young man that grows into a husband and father that respects, honors and cherishes his wife and children. A man that defends the weak and has a heart to give of both his time and resources in order to help others. A man that understands life does not revolve around him and that his life has purpose.
So, what are you waiting for? Go have that awkward conversation with your son now. Teach that young man to control his body, his thoughts and his actions. Discipline, self-control, self-worth and his respect for himself and women will all be better because of it.