This is a guest post from my good friend Barrett, author, speaker, and family man. He and Jenifer have five kids ranging from elementary-schooler to married-with-children, so they have loads of parenting experience but they’re still in the trenches right along with us.
My boys are quickly becoming men. Sadly, I have to confess that I haven’t always known how to help them to grow up. The culture they are living in certainly hasn’t helped.
In his groundbreaking book, “Guyland,” sociologist Michael Kimmel determined that young men today have been allowed to remain boys for far too long. Where adolescence used to transition into adulthood by age 19 or 20, now (for many) adolescence lasts well past 25.
These young “men” might be educated and employed, but they are still functionally boys. Their lives are characterized by a desire to have fun and be entertained. Their money is spent not on the future or for a greater good, but on expensive toys and activities. They see girls as something to chase and use. They give no thought to growing up or having a life of purpose and meaning. At least not yet.
I desperately want to help my sons to do better and to live differently. I want to set a high bar for them regarding character and purity. I want them to treat women with respect. I want them to learn how to be Godly men, not just, as Mark Driscoll calls them, “boys who can shave.”
This means that I have to talk to them about a few unpopular truths. This list of 10 things has served as the outline for my new book, “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness: How to Guard Your Heart, Get the Girl, and Save the World.” It has been designed to help teenage guys like yours to start thinking about what matters in their lives. It is also the perfect way to “tee up” these important conversations with the young man in your life.
Some unpopular truths your son needs to know:
The choices he makes now have the power to set the course of his life.
He can’t afford to make the “I’m just a teenager” excuse. He needs to know that his life has already started and that the trajectory of his life is being set right now.
Porn is just as addictive as any drug.
Most every man wants to look, but the internet has provided your son’s generation with unlimited accessibility. That’s why 60% of our teenage guys are now addicted.
He probably doesn’t need a girlfriend just yet.
Most teen romantic relationships are characterized by selfishness and sexual temptation. If the relationship is not going to help him to be more of what God wants him to be, then he’s probably not ready.
Sexual activity should be saved for marriage.
He knows the big reasons why his sexuality is precious and worth guarding. (Hint: it has nothing to do with pregnancy or STDs.)
Practicing the long-lost art of chivalrous manhood will set him apart.
Most guys in our world are consumers of girls. He needs to learn how to be a young man who guards, protects, and honors the women in his life.
God’s plan for your son’s life might involve doing difficult things.Walking with God is the most important thing for him to learn.
Through his life, he will hear plenty of voices telling him what is important. Only One voice truly matters. That’s why it’s so important for him know God personally.
He’s going to screw up sometimes. And that’s okay.
Too many of our young men believe that when they blow it, God is mad at them. So they distance themselves further from Him. Your son desperately needs to know that God offers forgiveness and a fresh start. Every time.
Life is short and he can’t afford to waste his life.
He may not have it all figured out yet (who of us does?) but your son can start getting his life moving in the right direction now.
How to start teaching these things to your son:
If one or more of these truths resonates with you, you’re not alone. In our work with families, we often hear the frustration of parents who want to train their teenagers to not just blend in with their peers. They want to call their young men to a higher standard. We talk to dads who want to have these “talks” but who feel ill-equipped to do so. They don’t know where to begin.
These very themes (and many more like them) make up the bulk of “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness.” We created a book that guys would want to read and that would open up some meaningful conversations between parents and their kids.
The “guide” covers three main themes: how to guard your heart (sexual purity),
get the girl (principles for relating to the opposite sex), and save the world (keys to building a life of significance).
The book has an easy-to-read format, lots of art, and 25 QR codes that connect to videos that will enhance your son’s reading experience. There are also great discussion questions as the end of every chapter so that parents can engage in the process.
Guys from about age 13-23 will benefit from reading the book. It deals rather openly with issues like porn and self-gratification, so if you don’t think your son is ready for that, then you might want to wait. (Though most parents push these issues back way too far, thinking their sons aren’t dealing with them yet. They probably are.)
If you are looking for a way to introduce these “unpopular truths” to your son, then we invite you to put “The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness” into his hands and see what happens.
Barrett Johnson is the founder of I.N.F.O. for Families, a ministry designed to help “Imperfect & Normal Families Only.” (That’s basically everybody.) The husband to Jenifer and the father of five kids, he is committed to helping young men live awesome lives and to successfully navigate our hyper-sexualized culture. Find out more at www.INFOforFamilies.com.