Taking a Stand for Our Nation's Boys
- 2009 24 Apr
It's time someone stand up for the young men of this country.
Despite the negative images of males that the pop culture shoves down our throats, the hearts and souls of America's boys are begging for positive direction. They naturally delight in "guy" stuff like rugged camping and "cowboys" when they are young because they truly want to be protectors - to be the good guys. Anyone who has ever been around a five-year-old boy knows that he desires to be a super-hero who saves damsels, children and the elderly from evil.
But as guys age they are constantly pounded by images of lazy or sexually predatory images instead of courageous, genteel protectors - and some grow confused. Radical feminism doesn't help - many teen boys even wonder if they are supposed to be polite anymore. Too many have opened the door for what they thought was a young lady, for instance, only to be screamed at by a suddenly vicious and angry female. Why would they want to take that risk again?
Turn on the television for 30 minutes and show me how boys and men are portrayed - you can watch just about any station at any hour and the image will be the same. When sit-coms and commercials contain family groups or interactions between the genders, the man is usually stupid, lazy, and doltish.
If our media culture showed positive male images and if we actually put effort back into teaching boys that real men are also gentlemen, we would get more of the behavior our society needs to survive.
What the nation really needs are more Boy Scouts. And I mean that literally.
As a mother of two Eagle Scouts (now ages 20 and 21), I can personally testify about the tremendous positive impact that Scouting continues to have on their lives.
We spent ten glorious, fun years in Scouting working along side other parents who shared our commitment to making sure our boys were well-equipped to deal with anything life would throw at them. In looking through photo albums this weekend with my son who was home visiting from college, my heart was warmed with the memory of the many campfires, pinewood derby races, and badge ceremonies. I'll always be grateful for the image of my husband who was man enough to don the uniform too - green knee socks and all - in order to lead our boys and their friends as a Scout Master.
As I travel the country speaking to parents it is quite obvious that moms and dads need someone to help us teach our sons the character traits we so desperately want them to have. So, when I wrote 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family it was imperative to include a chapter I call "Dress Your Son in Respect". And the group I feature as the very best to show you how is the Boy Scouts.
Take the Scout Law, for instance. It outlines the characteristics of the type of men we all so desperately need in this country:
Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Scouting doesn't just stop with words and pledges, it shows boys how to become men marked by these invaluable traits.
My friend, columnist and author Marybeth Hicks says, "One of the best gifts we can give our boys is the social skills they need to be self-confident." As she points out in her great book, Bringing up Geeks, the message our boys get from the culture is to be rude and self-absorbed. But we all know that doesn't work when you are an adult. We bless our boys when we raise them to be comfortable around other people, and to be able to put others at ease too." Being a Boy Scout may not be "cool". But it can help you raise what Marybeth calls, "GEEKS" - Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kids - kids who are happily "uncool".
And in our community of Richmond, Virginia, a group of committed parents made Scouting cool too. Some seven families with nine boys between us made the journey together with our little six-year-old Cub Scouts all the way through to strapping young adults who proudly reached the rank of Eagle. And, in the process, we created a lifetime of memories and a group of men now in their college years who fondly recall their childhoods and benefit every day from the lessons and skills learned.
Perhaps your son is in middle school or high school and you are getting a late start. No worries. Scouting has plenty to offer for young men unconcerned with rank, but still craving male camaraderie, the opportunity to experience the great outdoors and learn good "guy stuff". As a parent, you'll also be impressed by the quality and commitment of the families you meet through the Boy Scouts, and you will have found allies in the battle for the character of your sons.
You can contact the Boy Scouts of America through their website at www.Scouting.org to find a local chapter. In the midst of a pop culture that would rob our young men of their dignity and best futures, thank the Lord for the Boy Scouts.
Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family. Visit her website at www.HowToSaveYourFamily.com. where you can sign up to receive her free e-newsletter containing the Culture Challenge of the Week and how to fight back. Hagelin is also senior communications fellow for The Heritage Foundation.