How to Raise Your Son by God’s Design
- Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dr. Gregory L. Jantz and Michael Gurian's upcoming book, Raising Boys by Design: What the Bible and Brain Science Reveal about What Your Son Needs to Thrive (WaterBrook Press, 2013).
Boys are often misunderstood and devalued in our culture. Their energy can be seen as disruptive, their competitiveness as presumptive, their tenacity as arrogance, their resilience as uncaring, and their inquisitiveness as disrespect for authority.
But God has created boys according to His good design. As the parent of a son, your sacred duty is to help him grow up to manhood in ways that honor that divine design.
Here’s how to raise the son (or sons) that God has given you according to His design for how boys should grow into men:
Recognize that male and female differences complement each other. Boys aren’t meant to act like girls, since God has designed the genders differently so that they will complement and mutually benefit each other. Rather than expecting your son to behave like the girls you know, give him the freedom he needs to be himself – the way God made him to be.
Examine your gender biases and ask God to help you change them. Reflect honestly on the stereotypes you may have about boys and how you may be biased against them. Do you assume that boys will be disruptive, messy, inattentive, insensitive, disrespectful, unable to follow directions, tough, or unfeeling? If certain boys don’t act in those ways, do you think that they’re weak since they don’t fit your image of macho behavior? Ask God to show you which attitudes you currently have about boys that are inaccurate, and then pray for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and give you the right perspective on boys.
Teach your son lessons he needs to learn from a mother or other caring people who can be maternal influences in his life. Give your son what he needs from maternal influences by assembling a team of people (including his mother, if she’s available) to invest in his upbringing by: bonding with him for long periods of time through shared activities, providing hands-on and needs-based attachment whenever possible, emphasizing multitasking in his development, helping him express his emotions in words, practicing and teaching direct empathy, providing an example of relinquishing personal independence to meet his needs, promoting his character development through communicating with words, and helping him feel his emotions and learn how to comfort him after he goes through stress.
Teach your son lessons he needs to learn from a father or other caring people who can be paternal influences in his life. Give your son what he needs from paternal influences by assembling a team of people (including his father, if he’s available) to invest in his upbringing by: bonding with him for short periods of time through shared activities, teaching him how to think in orderly and sequential ways, downplaying emotion and emphasizing performance, promoting risk taking and independence, teaching him how to fight against negative thinking from his peers, promoting respect for positive authority, encouraging him to build confidence through learning how to do things well, and helping him feel stronger – but not necessarily better – after he goes through stress.
Encourage your son to develop the character of a hero. Boys and men are naturally drawn to the hero archetype, since God has placed the desire for greatness within every male. If you view the word “hero” as an acronym, you can list key character traits that heroes develop: honor (adhering to truth, values, and principles beyond self), enterprise (working at important things, whether they seem or large), responsibility (carrying important people and things throughout life), and originality (being a dreamer, a thinker, and explorer in the world). Another key character trait of a hero is self-discipline, which will help your son build confidence as he disciplines himself to work toward his goals.
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