Raising Strong Boys in a Soft Culture
- Rebecca Hagelin Author, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family
- 2011 1 Jan
Parenting boys can be tough.
From sexually provocative media, to the influence of bad boy athletes and self-indulgent celebrities, to violent video games… the cultural undertow exerts a powerful pull in the wrong direction.
When looking for alternatives, parents like Angela and Ty, who both work full-time while raising three boys, feel overwhelmed at times. Angela observes. "It's hard to know what's going to benefit our guys in the long run…and be something they like."
Their vision is to raise boys who will become strong, Godly men of character, with inquisitive spirits and service-oriented hearts and the self-discipline and drive to achieve their goals.
That's no easy task in a culture that's gone soft: entertainment idealizes gender-bending celebrities and devalues strongly masculine traits; the social media environment fuels teenage narcissism; and schools inflate self-esteem by pouring on unearned praise in the absence of actual achievement.
How to Save Your Family By Partnering With the Boy Scouts
So how can we raise strong sons?
As parents, we must set clear direction - and be positive examples. But we also need to find strong partners - organizations, friends, and churches - to support our values, provide admirable role models, and to offer friendship and encouragement to our children.
There's no better organizational partner for parents than the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
A recent Gallup poll found that, while fewer young men are Boy Scouts than in years past, boys involved in scouting have higher academic achievement than non-Scouts. And as adults, former Boy Scouts out-earn their non-scouting peers.
Dig a little deeper and it's not hard to understand why.
According to recent research, scouts are highly likely to internalize positive character traits like honesty, leadership, and dependability. And boys who were scouts are more likely than non-scouts to resist negative peer pressure, on the one hand, and to value family life and lifelong friendships, on the other. They learn, as one BSA executive told me, "to live a life of honor." Those qualities are indispensable not only for career success, but for family life as well.
Why does Scouting work so well? For starters, the Scouts have a hundred year track record of building character and fitness. Though times change, human nature does not. The Scouts incorporate the latest technologies and current interests into the time-honored merit badge system; boys learn to try new things, set goals, and persevere until they accomplish them.
But the capacity for achievement, by itself, doesn't create better human beings. And here's where the Boy Scouts shine most brightly: its activities explicitly seek to instill character and virtues within the hearts of young men.
I'm so grateful to the Boy Scouts for the years of support they gave my own two sons throughout their childhood and teen years. My husband and I first introduced our boys to scouting when our oldest son was in second grade. The next year, his little brother joined the scouts too and for the next ten years our sons lives were filled with adventure, friendship, achievement - and consistent teaching about God and His commandment to serve others. Our two sons thrived in the Boy Scouts. They found strong role models and lifelong friends and both of them earned the coveted rank of Eagle Scout. But even had they not decided to pursue the Eagle Scout rank, the years of scouting would have been a blessing. I will always be grateful for the way scouting strengthened the values we were working so hard to instill in our sons.
For parents looking for an assist in raising strong young men in a world that's gone soft, check out your local scouting troop. Your boys will "be prepared…for life."
Author's NOTE: Rebecca outlines her vision for parenting in 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
(c) 2010 Rebecca Hagelin www.howtosaveyourfamily.com.