Boy Talk

In their book Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys (Tyndale House, 2009), Stephen James and David Thomas discuss the doubts that inevitably nag at boys (and many men). As they note,

(Boys) come to realize that they aren’t action-adventure heroes or the second coming of Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, or Willie Mays. Most boys are average height, awkward with girls, unexceptional athletes, socially anxious, and physically scared. But when they compare themselves to the narrow and extreme definition of masculinity that prevails in our culture, they come to the inevitable conclusion that they don’t have what it takes and don’t measure up.

As a result, boys invest a lot of time and energy trying to find affirmative answers to three basic questions: Do I have what it takes? Am I the real deal? and Do I matter?

James and Thomas admit that most boys don’t articulate these questions verbally. They are much more likely to talk “around” the questions or speak through their behavior. But the questions are still being asked. Here are three ideas to help your teen boy find the answers he’s seeking.

  1. Mail him a letter. Use words on a page to share what you see as significant and noble in your boy’s life. Remind him of his victories and assure him of your confidence in his future.
  2. Surround him with significant men. As parents, you are the primary spiritual mentors of your son. But the influence provided by key adult men outside your family can help you impress a blessing on his life.
  3. Celebrate milestones. Find creative ways to honor the significant events of your son’s life. This isn’t something you want to do every week (or even every year), but you can celebrate the transitional bridges that move him from one stage of life to another.

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