How to Raise a Man

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  • 8/2/2019 How to Raise a Man


    How to Raise a Man

    March 12, 2012 | From

    Theres a unique creature in my home. What to do?

    ByJoel Hilliker

    I thought I had learned a thing or two about child rearing after bringing up two daughters for several years. Then my wife and I had a son.

    Noah is a unique creature. His sisters were fairly quiet and conservative in their play. He is a wrecking ball with lungs.

    His sisters like to dress things, decorate things, set things up, stack things on top of other things. He sees a stack of things as an invitation for

    demolition. He likes to kick and punch. He enjoys collisions.

    Somehow even his dinner plate looks to him like an artillery range. Ah-h-h-h-h-hboosh! he says while dropping his carrot into his potato.

    We didnt teach him these things. We are trying to teach him civilized table manners, and respect for other peoples things a nd for the structural

    vulnerability of the walls in our home. But the urge to dominate, to subdue, to conquer, hes got in spades.

    This is fascinating to me, for a couple of reasons. One is that some delusional academics seem to think there are no inborn psychological

    differences between boys and girlsonly what society teaches them. Absolute poppycock. Without prodding or guidance, from very early on my

    daughters would pick up a doll and begin cradling it and cooing to it. My son pulls the head off to see whats inside.

    More importantly, Im fascinated because what Im seeing with my own eyes backs up a truth revealed in the Biblea truth with staggering

    implications as to the responsibility it places on me.

    General societys complete ignorance of this truth is creating a mess of problems with the way we rear our boys. In their early years they yearn to

    do battle in the arena; they are keen to exercise their strengthand often in undisciplined and damaging ways. Society fears this. We are deeply

    ambivalent about masculine energy. Our female-dominated early education seeks to squash it. We embrace the convenience of indulging our

    sons natural enthrallment with inert entertainment; after all, if the boy is absorbed in a video game, hes not whacking his little brother with a

    bat. Without considering the consequences, we reward passivity; it is less alarming than ferocity.

    Then we watchas if helplesswhile our sons grow self-indulgent, lazy, soft. Bit by bit, the stuff that made them different from their sisters

    becomes muted, stifled. Or it gets swallowed whole.

    That we do this is perfectly understandable. But its a tragic mistake.

    The fact is, there is something valuable in our sons assertive boyishness. It needs to be shaped and guided; it needs to be refined and balanced.

    But woe be to usand to themif it gets crushed.

    Why? Because they are destined to be leaders.

    Genesis 1:26-27 say that God created human beings male and female. The rest of the Bible explains why. Clearly, men and women were

    engineered with obviousphysical differencesbut thats not all. As I wrotein a previous article, God also designed emotional and psychological

    differencesand for an important reason: because He intended men and women to fulfill complementary, but decidedly differentroles within the

    family and within society.
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    Before we can prepare our sons to fulfill the role for which God created them, we need a clear concept of just what that role is. We need a vision

    of godly masculinity so we can measure our sons behavior against thatto know what needs to change and what needs to stay, what needs to be

    shaped and developed. Raising a man requires knowing what the boy is to become.

    While the basic principles of child rearing are the same for boys and girls, each must be taught the respective jobs they will fulfill in a future

    family. Boys require a different mindset, a different set of skills. As they grow, our sons must gain a sense of their uniquenessnot in a way that

    makes them awkward around girls and women, but in a way that gradually shows their God-given responsibilities toward them.

    Boys have a natural tendency to want to conquerto storm the backyard and erect a barricade. We want to encourage that, not squelch it. We

    wantour boys to be adventurous, courageous, visionary. After all, they were created to exercise dominion over the Earth and to subdue it (verse

    28). Thus, we need to show them how to exert their strength in a godly, constructive way.

    Teach the boy to do things.Dont let him stand awkwardly by as his friends dive into experiences like jumping in the pool or riding horses. Dont

    let him sit on the sidelines during an activity. Get him a dog and show him how to train it. Teach him to use things, to make things, to plant

    things, to manipulate his environment in a proactive, positive way.

    God began the creation of human beings with the man, and immediately gave him work to do (Genesis 2:7, 15). God gave man physical things to

    teach him good stewardshiptaking care of the blessings we receive. Further, after Adam sinned, God actually made his workload harder

    (Genesis 3:17-19), because physical labor is crucial to building character. God knows that when everything is handed to us, we just dont do well;

    He wants man to earn his bread through the sweat of his brow. And the Bible is clear in its command to men that they provide for their families

    (e.g. 1 Timothy 5:8).

    Parents: Teach your boy how to work. The lessons Adam learned by having to dress and keep the Garden are lessons all boys need: to

    appreciate the value in hard workto be patient and wait for fruits to showto have realistic expectations of successto enjoy labor. A boy

    needs to experience getting worn out, and having to push himself when he feels like quitting.

    Give him chores.Boys tend to be lazy; its a parental duty to help them overcome that. Eventually, your son will need to get and hold a job

    outside the home. He needs a steady progression of duties and opportunities that teach him to work, to be responsible, to be self-motivated.

    When your son understands the value of hard work, he will know the value of an honest days pay. That provides another invalu able opportunity:

    guiding him on how to save, to pay his own way, to spend wisely, to be generous to others, to give back to God. These are crucial habits for a

    man; instill them when he is a boy.

    The Genesis account reveals another invaluable truth: From the beginning, Adam was not meant to be alone. He needed a companion, a helper.

    He was incomplete without Eve, and she was incomplete without him (Genesis 2:18-24). To ensure order and organization, God placed the man

    in a leadership role over the woman (1 Corinthians 11:3).

    Our sons were created to become leaders of women and children. We must keep this in mind as we work with them.

    Teaching that role begins with the relationship between Dad and Mom. Our sons need a strong example of a godly marriage. They need to see

    proper masculine leadership in actiona man who leads his family in love. A boy is going to be drawn to emulate his fathers strong, manly


    A father must ensure his son treats his mother with respect. God commands a son to honorand obey his mother (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1).

    When a boy learns this early, he begins to appreciate that men must always have a sense of responsibility and duty toward women. This makes it

    more natural to later step into the responsibility of leading, protecting and providing for a family of his own. A son who despises his mother is a

    fool (Proverbs 15:20). If he develops a confrontational relationship with her, he learns to be more competitive and combative around women. On

    the other hand, a boy who honors his mom will grow up to honor his wife (1 Peter 3:7).

    In preparing your son to fulfill his incredible role, pay close attention to how you discipline him. Do not browbeat him or put him down. Dont

    instill cowering submission in him. Instill godly confidence in himand godly humility. How? With lots of encouragement. Encourage his

    strengths. Praise his successes. Show joy in his accomplishments.

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    Train your son to accept responsibility for himself. Teach him to own up to his actions and not make excuses. Dont let him b e weaselly to try to

    protect his selfish masculine pride. Dont let him shift responsibility or blame and flee the burdens of leadership.

    Being a leader requires making difficult, unpopular decisions. We all tend to be people-pleasers. Your son needs people skillsbut he also needs

    the courage to stand alone. Teach him to obey Gods definition of right and wrong, and to stand against the crowd when he has to. This requires

    courage, and you must instill it in him.

    Help him overcome self-centeredness. Encourage him to seize opportunities to do things that benefit others at the cost of benefiting himself.

    Teach him the sensitivity and magnanimity to identify the needs of others. Help him to see the big picture. Show him how to see things from

    Gods perspective.

    Build his physical and mental strength. If you can, instruct him how to change a tire, how to fix the car, how to do home repairs; help him learn to

    thrive outdoors, to camp, hunt, fish.

    Most importantly, spend time with him. The father who shows his son how to change the oil gives him a skillbut the more valuable thing is that

    he is with the boy.

    This world needs strong, masculine boys who will become strong, masculine men. The main way we as parents can fill that need is by helping

    our sons embrace their destiny as leaders. That means giving them a good example, training and teaching, discipline, increasing levels of

    responsibilityand plenty of encouragement.

    Your boy needs you. Teach him to be a man.

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    Make a Comment| View All Comments (25)

    Featured Comments:Another superb article Joel. This is the kind of article any man who has sons needs to read if he

    has any doubts about what kind of upbringing he needs for his sons. Thanks a million!

    Michael WilliamsOhio, USA

    Wow! What an awesome article! I also had two daughters before having a son and the differencein them was great! This has shed so much light on how they are so different and it is sometimes

    overlooked Thank you for such wonderful insight.AshleyAlabama

    Excellent! There is so much in your article. It demands attention to each point in detail. Some ofthose points are very crucial, God help us to get it right.

    Colleen WintersFL USA

    Dear Mr. Hilliker, While I was reading this article, I could not help to think of how I was raised.Coming from a dysfunctional home, it has always been hard to become the man that would be

    pleasing to God. I have a good relationship with my father, but his example of being a good male
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    role model is lacking to say the least. I am still trying to become a better man or man-up if you

    will. I think I have made great strides in the past few years, but there is still much I need to learnthat I wish I would have been taught at an earlier age. I hope that families who read this article

    really take it to heart and understand the importance of a strong God fearing family. Thank you

    very much for this article.


    Oklahoma/USAMr Hilliker, thank you. My husband often regales me with stories of his childhood and the antics

    that he got up to. My typical response is dont you go telling our daughter those stories,

    however, if God ever does bless us with a son, I hope he listens to and emulates the actions of hisfather.


    Dear Mr. Hilliker,

    Your article struck a nerve. You have such a wonderful understanding of family and every onesplace in it. Both myself and my wife found your article to be like a cold splash of water,

    refreshing. Our boys are to be leaders, teachers, protectors and we have the honor of instilling

    those values in them. Thank you for the reminder (and correction). We needed it.RohannSouth AfricaIt is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are

    formed the habits of a vigorous mind are formed contending with difficulties. All history will

    convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons

    of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, andanimated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay

    dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman. ~Abigail Adams

    to her son, John Quincy

    Your article on raising future men brings to my mind, once again, the examples set by John and

    Abigail Adams and the character they emphasized and deemed vital for raising their own future

    leaders. It is evident that they took personal responsibility in the character development of their

    children, specifically their sons. They encouraged the development of the mind, the ability tostaunchly face difficulty, as well as discouraging the inclination to be drawn to a life of

    retirement or leisure. When considering a boys God-given opportunities to lead and

    provide, we, as parents, must realize the complicated endeavor we have before us.

    What better way to serve God than to provide him with more godly laborers? Men who will

    follow Him, love Him, and serve Him Having two young boys in our household, I can reallyappreciate your last two columns. This topic is in the forefront of my minddaily.


    I was taught how to train horses and dogs in my youth, by an uncle. The number one rule is to

    never allow a wrong behavior to settle because it will become permanent. Simply stated, do notreward wrong behavior because if you do, then you will get more wrong behavior. After that

    primary lesson, whether a person learns to be President of the USA or a janitor, he will be good

    at it.