What are you teaching your teenage son about what it means to be a man?
I talk a lot on the blog about how to raise girls–because I have two! In fact, as we speak my girls and I are working on an online course to help parents teach their daughters about puberty and sex (it’s going to be awesome!). But I’m at a bit of a loss when it comes to teenage boys, because I never had any.
And so I’m thrilled to welcome Barrett Johnson, a really wise guy (in the good sense of the phrase!) to come and talk to us today. He’s just released an awesome, accessible book called The Young Man’s Guide to Awesomeness to help parents have those hard conversations with their sons and let me tell you–it looks, well, awesome.
So excited to have him on the blog today. Here’s Barrett:
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.
Here are some of the unpopular truths that your son needs to know:
1. 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.
2. 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.
(PSST: If you want some more information about protecting your children from porn, check out my post about it here: 3 Easy Habits to Become a Porn-Free Home)
3. Masturbation is a habit that has the power to undermine his future marriage.
Our guys need to know that sex is best when it is given, not when it is taken. Young men who have a habit of masturbation are training their bodies and brains to be selfish. And selfishness gets in the way of just about everything in marriage.
4. 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.
5. 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.)
6. 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.
7. God’s plan for your son’s life might involve doing difficult things.
Instead of filling his days with video game adventures and entertainment, he needs to discover the calling that God has for his life. It might be hard, but it will be good.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Start Teaching Your Son These Things Now!
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.
You can find it on Amazon and at www.INFOforFamilies.com starting May 15.