Aiming to Fix Broken Boys

Even, the secular media is starting to get it right! Suzanne Venker’s article The Desperate Cry of America’s Boys (Fox News Opinion 2/18/18) shoots a perfect bull’s-eye by responding to a statement on Twitter by a Mr. Black. “Mr. Black is correct that boys are broken. But they’re not broken as a result of being cavemen who haven’t “evolved” the way women have. They’re broken for another reason. They are fatherless.”

 

If that wasn’t impressive enough, She splits her first arrow with a quote from Warren Ferrell’s new book “The Boy Crisis”, “Without dads as role models, boys’ testosterone is not well channeled. The boy experiences a sense of purposelessness, a lack of boundary enforcement, rudderlessness, and often withdraws into video games and video porn. At worst, when boys’ testosterone is not well-channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most destructive forces. When boys’ testosterone is well channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most constructive forces.”

 

Earlier this week, my son, Joshua, read me a Proverb, “…the glory of sons is their fathers.”  The Hebrew word for ‘glory’ is “kabod” and carries the idea of ‘weight’ or ‘significance.’ Glory attracts and draws attention to a thing. Giving kabod to God means, considering him of such importance such that we give him our attention. Boys want to be men, like their fathers. They are attracted to what fathers are, or at least what they are supposed to be. A father’s presence illustrates and informs a boy of his significance, and meaning, that he, as a male, matters. Dad’s presence and engagement in his son’s life transfers to him a sense of purpose and value. If dad is absent or unsupportive, the boy’s value is diminished. He will either wither or he will wander. If he withers, it is into a caldron of low esteem and escapes (drugs, alcohol, suicide, perpetual childhood, etc.). If he wanders, it will be in search of his manhood. In his searching, young men attempt to prove to themselves and others that they are men through twisted means. These twists develop into societal ills like alcohol and drug abuse, sexual perversion, crime, gangs, bullying, school failure, and gun violence.

 

I believe if we fix men, we fix society. But the cure for our boy’s brokenness is not one that can be legislated. Legislation can create a deterrent, but not a full stop. Men will do what they want to do, even if it has painful consequences. A change is needed in what men want, and changing what men want is simpler and much more effective than getting congress to agree upon and pass legislation. The cure is turning father’s hearts toward their children. Thankfully, what I’ve seen, even among convicts and drug addicts, is that most men want to be better dads.

 

While each man must make his own decision to do the hard work of engaging and learning to lead his son, society can help. Media that demeans dads, that mocks manhood, that casts a ridiculous or raucous version of father needs to stop it. Both the callously vulgar and the vainly comedic versions of father must be replaced with realistically involved, committed, and loving renditions. This positive presentation is especially vital for boys whose dads are not present, because it provides ‘glory’ and ‘weight’ for them. Honorable versions of father inform these boys that what they are made to become has dignity and importance. Nobility, rightly presented, is a strong magnet to the metal in a boy.

 

Mentors are another way to step into this gap. I had mentors who were present, offered advice, and gave me guidance when my own father didn’t or couldn’t. Boys just need an example, a guide, someone who cares enough about them to give them a little attention. And being a mentor isn’t as demanding as it might appear, because it doesn’t require being superman; it just means showing up.

 

We can (and sadly will) argue over guns, create new laws, point fingers at schools, government, and deranged gunmen, but we won’t find real solutions until men decide to be real men. As males return home and into the roles of leader, guide, protector, provider, and present parent, our nation will reverse its slide and reset its bearings toward a gentler, calmer, safer, stronger, and healthier society. If this is our aim, and I hope that it is, targeting fatherlessness is our best shot at hitting the mark.

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