Recently I read an extraordinary essay on the subject of why so many young men are angry, sullen and rebellious. The writer of this piece (Tiffani) has five children, including two sons ages 14 and 2. In the laboratory of a happy, stable, chaotic home life, she concocted this wild harebrained theory: That boys need men to teach them to be men. Crazy, ain’t it?
As Tiffani watched the morals, attitudes, work ethic and sense of responsibility of society degenerate, she couldn’t help but speculate whether the lack of a strong man in boys’ lives turn them from “sweet, fun-loving ruddy little boys” into monstrous adolescents. And she wondered … is teenage rebellion a natural stage in life, or is it caused by something kids are missing?
The premise of Tiffani’s theory is that mothers need to know when to step aside and let their sons learn to be men under the tutelage of their fathers (or father figures). Like all mothers, Tiffani wants to protect her boys from harm. But is this a good thing in the long run? Perhaps not. Tiffani is learning when to stand back and let her husband take over the guidance of her boys.
As they grow older, boys don’t always want – or need – protection. They need challenges, adventures and acts of knighthood. Fathers – strong fathers – know when to push aside the protection of mothers and start training their sons to be men. The operative word is training.
The training is critical. Untrained boys grow up to be monsters: out of control, predatory on women, irresponsible, unable or unwilling to restrain their testosterone-fueled urges for aggression or sex. Our current society is littered with the damage left over from boys who never learned what it takes to be a man. Sadly, these “adult boys” often procreate indiscriminately and uncaringly, then refuse to be a father to the children they produce.
But trained men transform society. They work hard. They move heavy things. They build shelters. They protect, defend and rescue. They provide for their families. They do all the scary, ugly, dirty stuff women can’t (or won’t) do. Trained men are, in the words of columnist Dennis Prager, the glory of civilization.
As Tiffani points out, boys need men to help them establish their manhood in appropriate ways. Men understand that boys need defining experiences and challenges to fulfill their biologically programmed roles. Women don’t understand this, but that’s OK. Strong fathers (or father figures) will instinctively step in and start training boys on how to tame the testosterone, how to work, how to respect women, how to lead and defend, and how to slay dragons.
Trouble begins when there isn’t a male role model for a boy to emulate. If men are absent, emasculated or unwilling to teach boys how to behave, then boys don’t learn how to be men. Simple as that.
Mothers cannot teach boys to be men. No matter how much we love our sons, we can’t. Mothers want to mother because, after all, it’s what we do. We protect, nurture and kiss the boo-boos. But there comes a time in every boy’s life when he needs to rise above the boo-boos and be a man.
Men don’t cater to boo-boos. That’s how they become warriors and protectors.
I remember when a neighbor’s 13-year-old son rode his bike to our house, a distance of a mile and a half on rough dirt road. He took a nasty spill and showed up covered with scrapes and blood. When I asked him what happened, he explained about the tumble … then added with a sunny smile, “But that’s OK. I’m a boy.” Enough said.
If I had fluttered over him, cooing and fussing and kissing away his boo-boos, I would have robbed him of the adventure of surviving his accident. He took pride in his battle scars, and the last thing he wanted was to have them covered with Sesame Street bandages.
What happens when boys don’t have a strong male mentor? The results range from milquetoast wimps to outright bullies. I give an example on my blog about a dominant woman with an emasculated husband raising two sons. These boys are growing up in a twisted, upside-down household that goes against human nature and biological programming, and the boys are turning into thugs.
Boys who grow up with nothing but “protection” from their mothers – with no strong man to give them the chance to slay dragons – grow angry and bitter. They know something’s wrong. They know they’re supposed to defend women, but they harbor so much resentment toward their mother for “protecting” them from all challenges that their views toward all women become twisted.
Had the husband of this woman stepped into his role as head of the household, these boys might have turned out differently. Had he rescued his sons from the perpetual smothering love of his wife, his sons might be Men in Training instead of Future Thugs. But I fear it’s too late.
I believe a part of raising strong balanced sons comes from boys watching their mother honor their father. Households where the mother and father respect each other for their various biological strengths raise the most stable and balanced kids.
My husband and I have no sons to raise to manhood. But our girls are learning to admire true manhood, not potential thug-hood or milquetoast-hood. It helps tremendously that, in our neighborhood, we are surrounded by responsible parents who are raising fine young men – strong, eager to help, protective of females, longing to be heroes.
Which kind of man do you think I want my daughters to marry someday? The Real Man who assumes his biological role of protector and warrior? Or the Angry Young Man who curses his mother and despises his father? Which one sounds like the more balanced and stable man to you?
None of this is rocket science – or at least, it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately in today’s feminist androgynous culture, it has become a hostile and contemptible concept.