Before I start, let me clarify that I don’t have daughters. So don't be offended if I don’t speak to the difficulties of raising girls. I know that young women are growing up with challenges of their own.
But I am a boy-mom and as such I am becoming all too aware of the problems my boys are facing in today’s world. It is too often overlooked that our young men are growing up in an extremely confusing time! So if you are a lady out there wondering where all the good men are, take a little time to read this Mom's perspective about the challenges of raising a potential future husband.
Confusion about Manhood...
“Kids haven’t changed much over the past 150 years; our society has. So while my son still needs movement, still craves real-world learning, physical labor and ways to contribute to his family and his world, he’s expected to spend most of his time in a desk, in a classroom, with 20-some other kids his age. He’s not allowed to go outside at school when it’s too cold or wet; he’s expected to sit quietly in the library or auditorium during recess time. He’s allowed few opportunities for “real” work; today, when you hand an 8-year-old a saw or allow him to start a fire, people look at you askance.” *1
Beginning younger and younger, our kids are put into a school system that is feminized and it is becoming more-so all the time, along with most classrooms being designed for the way girls learn. This might sound critical, but it is not meant to place blame. It just IS the way it IS. Most teachers are women, and while we have seen a dramatic rise in educational opportunities focused on girls, (by no means is this a bad thing!), this positive expansion often comes at the expense of opportunities like vocational and physical education, as well as technical work programs geared more toward boys. Before you start to argue with me or get upset, just take a look at how are boys are doing in school as compared to girls… the numbers speak for themselves. Boys now lag behind girls in every single academic measure.
Here are just a few of MANY concerning statistics:
-Males account for approximately 70 percent of all Ds and Fs in U.S. public schools. *2
-About two-thirds of all students in special education programs are boys. *2
- In 2011, SAT scores for young men were the worst that they had been in 40 years.*2
Boys/men are increasingly being set up for failure in the workforce. As adults, they are twice as likely to live at home with their parents, and the percentage of unemployed men is on an continuous upward trend. We are not exactly preparing these boys for "manhood" are we?
Confusion about Sex...
Think of all the things that were off-limits or shocking when you were a kid. 20 years ago, a boy might have a friend who heisted an underwear magazine or dirty movie from his house to share with the other kids on the block; now our children have access to pornography 24/7 literally at their fingertips in the form of their smartphone. The United States has become the pornography capital of the world, with 30 percent of ALL Internet traffic going to pornography websites; and make no mistake, these companies ARE targeting our kids! You can turn on all the parental filters you want, and you still won't be able to keep your kids from seeing inappropriate content. What once was shocking not that many years ago is now normal - kids are desensitized to it.
So what happens when these over-sexualized kids become thirty-something? They are expected to suddenly morph into a being that has been marginalized and made fun of their whole life, something that has never been taught as normal; a respectful, loyal, monogamous, tender-loving husband. In a dating advice column, a woman was lamenting about how hard it was to find a decent guy because “I am not looking for casual sex anymore”! Like it is a light switch you can just flip? Universities are even offering classes on how to "unlearn toxic masculinity" in hopes of reducing the prevalence of sex crimes.
Sorry to say, but being a masculine man has nothing to do with the prevalence of sex crimes in today's society. We raise these boys in a society where sex is EVERYWHERE, anything goes and commitment is rare; and then suddenly, at some unknown magical point we want them to change. It is no wonder our boys are confused about sexuality and boundaries!
Confusion about Their "Role" as a Man...
While women have fought for equality and the right to do anything a man can do, the flip side to this cultural change has literally forced men to accept roles that have been traditionally held by women. Instead of balancing the scales, we have tipped them far in the other direction. If a man does not help with the day-to-day running of a household, cleaning, cooking and child-rearing then he is considered less of a man, worthless, even lazy. It goes both ways too - women who choose to stay home and raise babies and make their husband a sandwich (*gasp* of all things) are publicly shamed an ridiculed. Women have the right to abortions, yet the man that was there to help make that child has no say in the matter. Men are criticized when they make more money than women, and criticized when they don’t have a job and can’t support themselves.
Society has demeaned and belittled to the point that men are afraid to BE the men that they are! A friend told me that when their Dr. was getting ready to perform a vasectomy on her husband, he asked if she wanted to stay in the room to join the “party”. What seemed funny at first, after time to reflect, I thought how sad that it was considered so trivial and even a joke for a man to give up his reproductive capabilities. It would NEVER be OK for a Dr. to treat a woman the same way if she were giving up the same ability. We emasculate men at every turn, take away any form of power or control, laugh at their expense and then wonder why they are so immature and "boy-ish".
One of the first things you learn in any parenting class is that children need clearly defined boundaries. But now the lines are so blurred, everything is grey. There is no such thing as a man’s role and a woman’s role anymore, no such thing as right and wrong. In fact, to suggest such might even be considered hate speech. How is any man supposed to know what is expected of him, what his role is?
Confusion and Shame About their Identity...
But do you know who is missing? My boys don’t have a place to celebrate who they are. They are white, middle class, Christian and male. If they don't like that, society will celebrate and cheer for them to choose anything else! But when you string those four terms together in one sentence and own the person God made you, it has become the picture of everything many people fear and hate. Those four terms are compared to a misogynist, sexist, neo-nazi, racist, and nationalistic threat to society. In fact, as I type, I literally cringe at the messages that will most likely appear in my inbox. Will my sons be able to be loud and proud about who they are in today’s world?
I don’t need a history lesson. I know that this “group” is responsible for many human atrocities over the ages. I also believe that white privilege is a real thing; but might I suggest that in our never ending quest for equality, once again we are tipping the scales too far the other direction? In no world should a 7 year old boy have to ask his mother why he is the “worst of humanity”! My baby boys did not choose to be born the way they are any more than I was born me and you were born you. They should be able to celebrate who they are too, but sadly that will not happen any time soon.
What is the Answer?
I want the girls and women out there to know that there are parents who are trying very hard to teach our boys the skills to become real men, at times against all odds, and in a world where no one even seems to know what being a real man means anymore.
I pray that God will give my husband and I wisdom and skills to do this. To raise young men that show faith, kindness, discretion, modesty, respect, honor, dignity, joy and hard work. I pray that we raise the kind of man that women consider "Real Men"; good husbands and good fathers. And I pray that there are still a few "good women" left when they get there.