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Raising Boys to be Leaders

If we want to raise boys to become leaders, we have to teach them to have courage.  It is virtually impossible to be an effective leader without courage. Leading a family, operating a business, going to school, and even volunteering your time require courage in various degrees.
Courage is not the absence of fear but the conquest of it. Courage (especially in males) is the willingness to fail. Courage is the defender and protector of all other virtues. Courage emancipates us and allows us to move with freedom and vigor.
So, how do we teach our sons to have courage?  One way is to teach your son that being “nice” isn’t the highest aspiration a man can live up to. In fact, sometimes I think niceness is the enemy of courage. Many times in life a man, husband, or father is forced to make decisions in the best interest of his family or society that do not appear to be nice on the outside. I’ve been forced as a father to make decisions that my children perceived at the time as heartless, mean-spirited, or just plain stupid. But they were always made with their best interest in the long run in mind. If my goal had only been to be nice (or to have been liked), I would have not been able to make the hard decisions that were important to their long-term healthy growth and development.
Our culture promotes being nice as the highest virtue a man can achieve. Many of the newer “guy” movies inspire males to be lovable slackers, with no aim in life but to smoke pot, bed women, and get by without working. But the young men are very “nice,” so it’s okay. And many young women today seem drawn to soft, passive, quiet men who do not ruffle feathers and who do what they are told. It’s a nonthreatening but uninspired vision of manhood.
Niceness and meanness are feminine concepts. You seldom see men complaining that another man is mean or not nice. On the outside, that desire for niceness in males would appear to be a noble goal. However, it’s really a way of neutering masculinity. Being nice takes away the power of a man to lead. It removes passion, conviction, and courage from a man’s soul. Nice guys might not always finish last, but they seldom run the race at all.
You cannot be a leader without at least some people getting mad at you. In fact, you cannot accomplish anything important in life without having someone get upset with you. By its very nature, leadership will offend or upset a certain percentage of individuals. If your son grows up to care too much about what others think of him or whether he inadvertently upsets someone, he will never accomplish anything significant with his life, including raising exceptional children.

Want your son to be a leader?  Teach him to be courageous.  Remember–parents who exhibit courage produce courageous children.
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Does Political Correctness Increase Bullying?

If you are like me you are sick of hearing about this topic.  But that begs the question: is bullying becoming a bigger problem within our culture, or does the media just sensationalize it because it is the topic du jour?  If it isincreasing maybe one reason is the constraints that political correctness forces upon young males.
Perhaps because our culture has somehow minimized (or even demonized) the majestic qualities of manhood, many of our boys today seem a bit softer, perhaps more feminized, than in the past. They seem a bit gun-shy—with a deer in the headlights look about them. They stay in puberty longer and delay launching into manhood later than their predecessors. (Why become a man when being a man is bad?)  Others, perhaps because they have been caused to be ashamed of being a male, overcompensate by acting out in dramatic caricatures of manhood—they are overly macho, violent, and sexually promiscuous.
Young men today also have a certain amount of repressed anger. This may contribute to the seeming increase in bullying in schools, but also in a more escalated level or degree of violence among young males. This is possibly caused by not allowing young males to solve their social issues as they have for thousands of years—on their own. In the past when two young males disagreed about something, they went to the playground and tussled around until one or the other acceded.  Generally they both just got too tired to continue and quit. They then shook hands and forgot about it. In fact, many boys I fought with went on to become my good friends. Today, however, with adult interference, boys are not allowed to solve their own problems. They are taught that any kind of aggression or (gasp) violence is bad. So they are forced to repress those feelings of disrespect, humiliation, and injustice, which eventually cause those feelings to fester into frustration, anger, resentment, and bitterness—far more powerful emotions than they were originally faced with. Eventually those powerful repressed emotions spill over and explode into greater levels of violence evidenced by the shootings and stabbings we see of young men across the country.
A big mistake that our culture currently makes with boys is that we unconsciously combine aggression and violence into one behavior. From a males’ perspective the two are not the same. Boys and men see aggression as useful—it is constructive of the self. Violence is just the opposite—it is destructive.  So when our schools, courts, and social service workers confuse the two it does a disservice to boys who actually need aggression in many areas of their life. Our culture just generally assumes now that the more feminized traits like being quiet, sitting down, being contemplative, and nurturing are the right way to act, and the more masculine traits like anger, aggression, confrontation, and one-upmanship are wrong—in every circumstance! That’s not true and does a great disservice to our boys. There are times when it is appropriate to be angry and confrontational instead of passive or gentle.
Our schools and culture’s knee-jerk response to male violence (or even just natural aggression) of establishing a “no tolerance” policy has probably been more detrimental than helpful to young males. (If there is any question that our public educational system has been “feminized” we need look no further than this policy.) One reason is because it’s actually less frightening for a male to “act out” (physically fight) when he feels threatened than it is to have the self-control to face the issue head on. So for instance when a boy gets made fun of on the playground, his sense of honor requires him to respond. But perhaps because he does not have the maturity or coping skills to understand that the more mature thing to do would be to confront his attackers in a non-violent way, he responds emotionally and strikes back. When we condemn his action or response as being “bad” we send the message that his honor is not worth fighting for. And yet he has an innate ego response mechanism that causes him to seek justice when he is disrespected. To not allow him to respond or to require he get someone else (like an adult female) to advocate for him tells him he is powerless, disrespected, and dishonorable. Respect is a key attribute of the core of a male’s psyche. When he does not feel respected or is allowed to be disrespected without recourse, it rots his pride and weakens his level of self-respect.
I’m not promoting that we should teach young males that violence is the way to solve problems. But the myth that “violence never solved anything” is just that, a myth. Violence solves lots of problems—especially violent problems. If someone is trying to murder your wife and children, appealing to their sense of compassion is probably not a good strategy to stop them.
Back in the “old days” when a gym teacher had two boys who had problems with each other (which is inevitable) he put boxing gloves on them both and told them to settle their differences in a supervised environment. Afterward, they were made to shake hands and moved on. Even in the most adversarial unsupervised playground scuffle seldom was anyone injured beyond a bloody nose. Males always respect their opponent after doing battle with one another and frequently become good friends because of the respect they earn for one another. We did not see the problems then that we face today with high levels of violence and the killing of our young men.
However, our more feminized world of total tolerance does not allow a young man to seek justice, which causes him to be resentful and angry. Males are taught it is bad to fight or even be aggressive over any insult no matter how egregious the offense. This frustrates their sense of justice.
Again, I’m not promoting violence, bullying, or unchecked aggression, but this kind of “feminization” of young males not only results in a more intensified level of aggression, but also produces passive men who often internalize this anger and frustration, which then manifests itself in passive-aggressive behavior, which can be just as destructive.
I watched this play out with a group of young males at the local high school the other day. Their horse-playing was becoming somewhat aggressive as young men are wont to do. Several teachers observed this and sounded the alarm that a “fight” was about to happen. This, of course, got all the adults in a dither, running around the building, sounding the alarm. It was obvious from the boys’ reaction to this that they enjoyed the control they gained over the adults who were responding to their “gang fight.” You could virtually see the gears turning in their heads as they somewhat tongue-in-cheek continued the escapades until the teachers and administration had worked themselves into a near panic, at which point the boys quietly disappeared into the sunset with smirks on their faces.
We do our boys a disservice when we do not allow them a certain amount of aggression and autonomy in solving their own social problems. Males are physical beings—they solve problems through action, not by talking about their feelings. (Frankly, to talk about your feelings after having had your honor disparaged does not seem like adequate recompense.) Males often bond with one another through aggression. This means males are biologically wired to be more physically active, more aggressive, and more likely to need physical activity to blow off emotional stress.

Want to stop bullying?  If we want to eliminate physical aggression and fights with young males, we need to find find physical competitions or other direct challenges for them to engage in when they have issues with each other. In addition, directing them into battles that they can use their natural aggression in a healthy way (fighting against sex trafficking, abuse, or other injustices) gives them a more noble vision of their roles in life.  This teaches them to be true warriors who use their power to lift up others, rather than becoming bullies who abuse those weaker than they are.
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The War on Men

Guys, we need to stop being ashamed of being men. Virtually every behavior that is natural to a man is now being criticized and we are made to feel ashamed about being our gender. Perhaps if we spent more time uplifting men instead of trying to annilate masculinity, we’d have better men.

 I recently posted this comment on a social network site. Not a huge fan of Men’s Health Magazine, but this ain’t bad advice: “You can’t be a topnotch man unless you’re deeply grateful. For what? Glad you asked. For the gift of your gender. For those muscles in your back. For those neurons in your brain. For your mirth. Your lust. Your courage. For your possibilities. A man in full appreciates the twist of fate that made him so strong, so cunning, so stalwart, so alert, so sexually skilled, so fully equipped, so good to go. Live the appreciation, by using it all.”

 The point was that men should have an attitude of gratefulness. Is there anything wrong with a man being grateful? Hardly—I’d say it’s one of the foundations of authentic masculinity. Men were almost embarrassingly silent regarding the post, but a number of women responded with snarky comments like, “so humble” or “vain,” or “very prideful.”

 Really? Are we so threatened by passionate, proud masculinity that we (as a culture) are programmed to immediately take steps to keep it squashed down. After all, if we can keep men ashamed of themselves, we can keep them docile. And docile men are easy to control. We’ve raised a generation of docile sons and we now call them slackers. If I had posted a note encouraging women to be proud of how they were created I’d have been lauded as an enlightened and highly intelligent human being.

In the past, men’s conferences such as Promise Keepers were met with criticism and distain by the media and women (even Christian women). They were portrayed as men getting together to plot and scheme with some ulterior motive to dominate or control women, putting them back under the thumb of oppression. Recently a Christian men’s conference focusing on inspiring men to act more manly has been heavily lambasted by Christian men and women in the media as being chauvinistic and rather stupid. Comments such as “Why do men need a conference to teach them how to be men anyway?” were cavalierly tossed about intending to humiliate the men who attended (yet interestingly national and local conferences that teach women how to live fulfilling and satisfying lives as wives, mothers, and women are thriving).

As a culture we seem to be highly threatened when groups of men get together so we do all we possibly can to demolish (or at least integrate with females) men’s clubs, boys groups, or any other male-only domains. After all, we wouldn’t want men getting together without the supervision of a female—who knows what might happen? When men have gotten together in the past they’ve only done things like, oh, put a man on the moon, or write the Constitution and Bill of Rights for the greatest country ever created in the history of the world.

 Men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they make no efforts to improve themselves they are criticized as being lazy and self-centered. If they do try and improve themselves by learning from other men they are accused of trying to usurp a woman’s rights and it’s assumed that there must be some nefarious motive behind what they are attempting. And when they do good and right things (like the young Catholic men in the photo above who were praying together to protect a Catholic cathedral from vandalism) they are mocked and chastised.

 Guys don’t buy into it. You need other men in your life. Learn from them what healthy (and unhealthy) masculinity looks like. And when you make mistakes (which you will) learn from them and don’t be ashamed. If you are not making mistakes (and getting criticized by someone), you’re not accomplishing anything.

 Now go out and figure out how to accomplish something great!

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Angry Young Men

Ever notice we have a lot of angry young men running around today? One of the reasons is that our boys today have a certain amount of repressed anger. It results in more bullying in school, but also in a more escalated level of violence. This is caused by not allowing young males to solve their social issues as they have for thousands of years—on their own. In the past when two young males disagreed about something, they went on the playground and tussled around until one or the other acceded—generally they both just got too tired to continue and quit. They then shook hands and forgot about it. In fact many boys I fought with we went on to be good friends. Today however, with adult (feminine) interference, boys are not allowed to solve their own problems. They are taught that any kind of aggression or (gasp) violence is bad. So they are forced to repress those feelings which eventually cause them to fester into frustration, anger, resentment, and bitterness–far more powerful feelings than they were originally faced with. Eventually those powerful repressed emotions spill over and explode into greater levels of violence evidenced by the shootings and stabbings we see of young men across the country.

I’m not promoting that we should teach young males that violence is the way to solve problems. But in the “old days” when a gym teacher had two boys who had problems with each other he put boxing gloves on them both and told them to settle their differences. Afterwards they were made to shake hands and forget about it. Even in the most adversarial unsupervised playground scuffle seldom was anyone injured beyond a bloody nose. Males always respect their opponent after doing battle with one another and frequently become good friends because of the respect they earn for one another. We did not see the problems then that we face today with high levels of violence and killing of our young men.

Our more feminized world of total tolerance does not allow a young man to seek justice which causes him to be resentful and angry. Males are taught it is bad to fight or even be aggressive over any insult no matter how egregious the offense.
Again, I’m not promoting violence, bullying, or unchecked aggression, but this kind of feminization of young males not only results in a more intensified level of aggression, but also produces passive men who often internalize this anger and frustration which then manifests itself in destructive passive-aggressive behavior.

Why do you think young men are angry today?