Saturday, September 03, 2011

Boys and Weapons and Sticks

Note: I originally published in this in Oct 2009. -- Glenn

I've been called sexist and primitive and backwards, but I do believe there are fundamental differences in the ways boys and girls are wired.

Matt Chandler said in a sermon that boys are "made to build things and break things. And girls can make any two objects friends."

Boys can make anything into a weapon. I've seen boys pop the heads off Barbie Dolls and declare them "hand grenades." If you hear the sound of simulated Star Wars laser blasters ("Pew! Pew! Pew!") in church, it's going to be coming from a boy squinting down his finger. I'm old enough that we said "bang." Knives. Bows and arrows. Ropes. Whips. Hammers. Screwdriver? "Watch me stick this screwdriver in that tree!"

And of course boys love sticks. Walking sticks. Sticks to beat things with. Sticks that become weapons in imagination. As we grow up our sticks get bigger and more sophisticated. In one sense, our ICBMs are a big stick.

(I acknowledge there are girls who love sticks and rocks, too. The kid with the most accurate arm in the West Virginia holler where I grew up was a girl name Glenna. She killed more than one squirrel with a rock. But the fact is that very few girls are like this, and nearly all boys are.)

Boys love to challenge one another. Sometimes over the stupidest stuff. It doesn't suprise me at all that the last words of many a man were "That's nothing, hold my beer and watch this!" Can you even imagine a girl or grown women saying that?

I know many mom's who are just horrified about their son's tendency towards weapons and fighting. And their husbands often feel pressure to "tame" their son.

My counsel: don't fight it, channel it.

Channel this energy into being prepared to stand against evil and defend innocents and the weak. You need to model this yourself, but also instruct them.

A good strategy is to watch movies with your boys (Sergeant York, The Green Berets, The Patriot, Brave Heart, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, and others -- yes, your son may not be old enough yet) and talk with them about how men behave in these difficult situations. This means you watch a scene together, stop the movie, and talk about it. Let the movie be a conversation starter.

The idea is to fill their imagination with fighting against evil, and persevering in the right cause, to serve and protect others. That's ultimately what all this drive in boys is about.

Read more in my earlier post, What Fathers Should Teach Their Sons.

P.S. If there are movies that you recommend, add them in the comments below.

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