There is a great deal of confusion about gender in our day. The word masculinity has taken on all sorts of connotations – often negative – in the minds of many. So when I say I want to raise masculine sons, let me be clear: I’m not talking about a kind of masculinity that is insensitive, selfish, domineering, or cruel. This is not true masculinity at all. I’ve often appreciated the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s definition of masculinity, drawn from the Scripture’s teaching on the subject:
“At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to man’s differing relationships.”
How can we as parents raise biblically masculine sons? Here are 12 tips, eight directed towards dad, and the final four directed towards mom.
For Fathers of Sons
- Be a model of the kind of man you would like your son to become. Recognize that the way you interact with your wife (his mother) sets an example of how he should one day interact with his own wife. Recognize that the way you lead your family sets an example of how he should one day lead his.
- Take every opportunity to honor your wife (his mother) in your son’s presence. Make sure he sees your example of sacrificial, unselfish love for his mother. Never speak negatively of his mother in his presence.
- Help your son see that your ultimate joy and hope is in Christ, not your family. Talk often with your son about the things of God and set for him an example of an active prayer life.
- Seek to develop in your son a mature sense of responsibility. Teach him to treat all women with respect (including his sisters), and encourage him to take a part in caring for the women of the home (for example, let him be the official bug-squasher of the family.)
- Help your son celebrate his masculinity in various ways. Sports, camping trips, and shared physical activities can help a young man learn responsibility, how to take risks, and give him opportunity to develop an adventurous spirit.
- Be available to your son to talk about the issues in his life, especially those issues that are unique to men.
- Encourage the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom in your son’s life by doing the same in your own.
- Be surrendered to the will of God, and encourage your son to be the same. Whether God gives him the gift of a wife or the gift of singleness (and singleness is a gift, cf. 1st Cor. 7), help him learn to embrace God’s calling for his life by you embracing God’s calling for yours.
For Mothers of Sons
- Recognize that sons often marry women who are similar to their mothers. Therefore, be an example of the kind of godly femininity your son should look for in a wife. Be the kind of wife and mother you would like him to one day marry. Be a godly helper to your husband (his dad) so that he will look for the same helping spirit in his future wife.
- Though this is often hard for many mothers, it is important that they let boys be boys. This doesn’t mean that sons should be allowed to go wild, but it does mean that they need to have opportunities to take risks – even if it means skinned knees or even the occasional broken bone.
- Mothers should help develop their sons masculinity by assigning them manly tasks around the home appropriate for their age. Taking the trash out, doing the heavy lifting, simple fix-it projects, or, again, squashing bugs can all be important ways for sons to learn to be sacrificial servants of their families.
- I’m sure I will do a whole post on this in the future, but know the importance of showing your son respect, even when he is not being respectable. In the way you speak to him and even discipline him, let it be clear that you have respect for the man God is making him to be. Boys of all ages thrive on genuine words of respect from others, and especially from the women in their lives.