How Boys Learn to Become Men

With so many boys left to the fend for themselves, the claws of social media, television, videogames, and the internet have grabbed hold and corrupted them at a time when they are most vulnerable to outside influences.  Since observational learning plays a critical role in development, studies have shown how this exposure is linked to anger, violence, and anxiety.  What chance do our boys have if the behavior of snakes and sharks is the primary source of guidance? 

While the absence of a father in the home has been shown to negatively impact children, the traditional family does not guarantee a positive impact.  Parents must model the behavior and live the values they hope to instill in their children.  This is important for both girls and boys; however, this article will focus on the significant role a father's behavior plays in the development of his sons.

There are numerous articles written about a generation of men who fall prey to "toxic masculinity," which leads to sexism, aggression, violence, and suppression of emotions.  What better way to manipulate a gender-confused society then to attribute all male anger, violence, and sexism to masculinity?  Other significant factors such as boys who are raised without a father, have poor role models, or have suffered abuse are minimized or purposely disregarded.  This permits fitting all of these destructive male behaviors under the same umbrella, allowing the gender fanatics to demonize and pervert masculinity, thereby providing cover for turning boys into their "new version" of men.

Be tough, but in a sensitive way; be competitive, but focus on your opponent's feelings; be confident, but show your vulnerability.  How is this supposed to work?  We are asking a generation of testosterone-filled adolescent males to do the impossible.  It is easier for them to just escape and engage in undesirable behaviors, such as listening to music that degrades women, playing a game that promotes violence and numbs the senses, and viewing pornographic images and videos on the internet.  After such destructive behavior, is he supposed to sit with his girlfriend and talk about his feelings?  Houston, we have a problem.

I believe there are six critical areas in which a father's behavior will lay the necessary foundation for teaching boys how to become productive, respectable, and desirable men.

Relationship with his wife

When a woman wholeheartedly gives herself to a man in mind, body, and spirit, it should never be taken for granted.  Other than God's love and mercy, this is the greatest gift a man could ever receive.  A good husband will acknowledge this gift and through his actions model how to reciprocate a wife's faithfulness, love, and kindness.

He will view his wife not through a lens of expectation, but through a lens of respect and tenderness.  When a husband views his wife through this lens, his love and appreciation for her will grow without bound.  Her beauty will never fade, her touch will always comfort, and her mere presence will make him want to become a better man.  This will be visible to all, especially his son.


It is when man understands his insignificance through serving an almighty God that he will truly be set free.  In a world that lacks selflessness and humility, a father who lives these virtues is sowing the seeds of faith in the fertile soil of a young boy.  Our godless schools and perverted secular society taint the innocence of childhood and spread the seeds of darkness, creating Mordor on Earth.  A father's faith plays a critical role in battling these demonic forces.

By living his faith, a father provides the antidote for our poisoned culture.  Without it, our young boys have to face this morally bankrupt and hedonistic society unarmed.

Work Ethic

It seems that with every generation, the traditional American philosophy — work hard and pay your dues — is nothing more than fool's gold.  Those coming up in this new generation are demanding an employer that aligns with their social views, has flexible schedules, and offers mental health and wellness, or they just quit.  I guess if you are single and have no responsibilities, such a mentality, as imprudent as it sounds, is possible.  This attitude does not work for a man who has to provide for his family, nor does it align with the value most traditional American men place on work.

A father will do whatever it takes to provide for his family.  Sometimes that means working a job he is not completely satisfied with or taking a second job to ensure that the bills are paid and food is on the table.  There is nothing wrong with trying to better your situation, but this is done in a way so as to minimize risk to the family's overall well-being.  Capricious job-hopping causes emotional and financial stress.  Fathers need to lead by example so their sons will understand the value of hard work and the dignity it provides.

Ability to forgive

Perhaps one of the most difficult virtues to practice is forgiveness — not only to forgive others, but the ability to forgive oneself.

When we carry a grudge, it penetrates deep into the core of our being and releases a negative energy that spreads into our daily lives.  A father who does not practice the art of forgiveness harbors resentment.  This resentment can negatively affect the brain and exposes those around him to the bitterness that has settled in his heart.

A father full of resentment teaches his son that if someone wrongs you, it is acceptable to feel bitter and hold on to that feeling.  One the other hand, a father can teach his son that although you may be unjustly treated, it is not healthy to hold on to the anger and resentment you may initially feel.  By practicing forgiveness, a father creates an environment where healing is possible and negative emotions are unable to fester.

How he handles setbacks

The inevitability of failure can motivate some and paralyze others.  If you have a family, there will be numerous setbacks and sometimes outright catastrophes.  Children need comfort and security.  It is vital that a father accept setbacks, reassure, and develop a plan to remedy the situation.

A son looks to his father during difficult times because he sees his father as the "fixer" of all things.  Just as a sailor looks to the captain during a sea battle, there must be clarity, confidence, and decisive decision-making so all impacted feel somewhat at ease.  

If a father collapses during a setback or crisis, his son will develop fear and anxiety towards failure and may avoid risks at all cost.  Failure avoidance is no way to live.

How he treats people

You can often tell a lot about an individual based on his everyday interactions with people.  Think about how many times you were with your parents, listening to them engaging in general conversation with neighbors, grocery store clerks, bank tellers, or restaurant staff.  A father who looks down on certain people because of a superiority complex sends a direct message to his son — I am better than this person, and he does not deserve my respect.  If a father gets angry or annoyed and proceeds to berate an individual, it sends the same message.

Conversely, if a son witnesses his father engaging individuals in a kindhearted manner and remaining poised in confrontational situations, he learns the importance of treating people with respect and self-control.

As fathers, I think we need to be deliberate in the behaviors we are demonstrating.  We all make mistakes when raising children; it comes with the territory.  However, the proverb "do as I say, not as I do" is a cop-out, and it says much about the character of a man.  We as fathers must "man up" and take responsibility to ensure that we are raising our boys to become men.

Image via Needpix.

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