A Wild Ride: Thoughts on Raising Boys
Let me say at the start, I am not an expert. Novice, beginner, apprentice would be accurate descriptions of my “qualifications” in the parenting boys. My boy is only two and a half and has given me thoughts and illustrations to last a lifetime. These illustrations would range from how kind and selfless he can be in his acts of kindness for his mother to the complete and total rage that escapes his body at wearing his coat (or sweater or different shoes). I need to realize in all those moments that my wife and I are training a human to see life and respond to life in certain ways.
Allow me express here that I believe that my children are sinners at birth and they need the saving work of the Spirit to see the glories of God and that Jesus is their substitute for the punishment of their sins. And, I believe this more and more each day, that there is no parenting technique that can either worsen or help their chances of receiving God’s grace and salvation — I believe grace is just that, grace. There is no merit found in my children or their parents that God looks at to extend His saving grace (although I pray to God that He would be merciful to both them and us).
What do I want my son to know about being a boy in a society that is confused about gender, what being a man is, and how he should view those around him?
1. God is Good
This is a truth I want to have deeply instilled in his mind that there is absolute goodness in the person and work of God. When he points out things in the world that bring him delight (dogs, trees, the moon), I simply ask, “Who made the moon?” Even when he does not respond I tell him, “God made the moon.” I, however, do not want to stop there for his worldview. “Why did God make the moon?” The answer I teach him is, “Because God is good.” God did not need to create and the enjoyable things in life are manifestations of God’s goodness. As my son has grown it is a delight to hear him declare that God made dogs because God is good.
2. God makes no Mistakes
God’s goodness is not limited to only what we enjoy but to every aspect of life. When there is pain, God knew about it and He is still good. We have tried to instill this truth when it comes directly to gender. He has begun to point at himself and dad and say, “Daddy is a boy and I am a boy.” My response is to affirm him, but then to ask, “Who made us boys?” When he says that God made us boys, I agree and then ask, “Did God make a mistake when He made Daddy and you boys?” NO!!! (This is the only time I really want him yelling “no” outside of emergencies). In God’s good created acts there are no mistakes and I want him to know it. I want him to see God’s absolute mistake free goodness in life.
3. Human flourishing is found in God
I do this by asking what the chief end of man is. His answer is, “Enjoy God forever.” As we enjoy God (because He is good and mistake free) we flourish in our lives. This does not mean financial prosperity, physical health, or relational peace. In fact I point out that the One who had complete trust in God, Jesus, was the One who faced the most complex and intense rejection, poverty, and agony on the cross.
These are not the only truths I want my son to have, but they are foundational to all the other truths I want to instill in him. God is the source of all goodness in life, He has made no mistakes, and ultimate human flourishing is found in Him.