My firstborn son, Andrew, just turned 16. And then he got his learner’s license. And then, just today, he printed off his first resume. I’m kind of wigging out. Even though I know every mother who has a child turn 16 says, “How did you get so old?!”, I’m still wigging out.
Over the past year, I have been known to violently grab him and force him to stand back to back with me, ruler on our heads. When he inevitably pushed the ruler up higher on his side, I think I punched him. He never asked my permission to grow up. And in another two short years, he’ll be finished high school! And then what?!?!
The problem with Andrew is that he’s too good. I don’t think he’s ever disobeyed me, or not laughed at my jokes. When he was a baby, before he could even speak, he would use sign language to say “please” before I gave him his mashed avocado. On the morning of his 16th birthday, he got up while I was still in bed and went, on his own, to morning Mass.
So how do you let a boy who is too good go out and face this world? I want him to stay right where he is, doing his schoolwork without complaint, reading Shakespeare, praying in his room, taking out the garbage, laughing at my jokes.
I wrote in my last column about the “toxic masculinity” movement, and how I disliked the terminology. Better to call it “impotent masculinity,” because the men they are talking about are not “too masculine.” They are not masculine enough.
I look at my son, growing into a man, and I have a start of fear, because boys like him aren’t really meant for a world like this. But what actually scares me more is that when I look deeper at my son, I know that boys like him really are meant for a world like this.
My prayer for all my sons, I have five of them after all, is that they would be real men, men after God’s heart. I pray that they would be good, and kind, and gentle.
But guess what? There are some pretty stereotypical things about men that I like, and that I also want my sons to have. I pray that they will be strong, physically and mentally, that they will be protectors, and that they will fight for the good. I pray they will be self-disciplined, courageous, and defend a woman’s honour, even if it means pushing an “impotent masculinity” type guy out of the way. I want them inside reading and making music, just before they go outside to get dirty and bruised.
My sons are in a time that emasculates and feminizes just about everything. This world is happiest when boys wear tights and too much hair product, when they speak with just a little something that helps us believe they aren’t “too much” of a guy. This effeminization of men is a work of the dragon, and I pray my sons go unscathed.
I really feel that our young sons need to know Christ, the Man. They need to read lives of the saints, men who rode into battle, or who gave up wealth for a life of solitude. They have to be given a chance to hear that it is a good thing to be a man, that women need them to be so. Our sons need good male mentors.
Their fathers are where so much of this will come from, but if that isn’t happening, it needs to be found somewhere else. The entertainment industry, with a few exceptions, have two types of roles for men: the macho womanizer, or the big, fat loser who needs a woman to sort his life out.
This is what our sons need to know: those two roles are the lie. God has created them with a masculinity like his own, within them. They are meant to be poets, warriors, philosophers and kings. With or without a sword, they are created to slay the dragon.