Nowadays, men in general often feel lost, especially young men. This is because society leaves them without true references that can show them what it means to be a man. Men are challenged by the rise of women in the workplace and women's desire for a new equitable balance between the sexes. How can men regain a position in which they can flourish while at the same time respect women?
Rachel and I had the privilege of welcoming five sons into our marriage.
Five lives, that brought many adventures that included happiness, stress, joy, and lots of questions. Sometimes there were tears, calmed by big bear hugs.
We regularly wondered how we would go about raising men according to God's heart. That's why today we would like to share with you some of the advice we received and the solutions we have found for our family.
First of all, we sat down and reflected on the values we wanted to convey to our sons: Faith, respect for women, and a good work ethic were our conclusions.
We thought about how we could achieve this, and looked for help. We read books, got advice from families more advanced in the parenting process than us. We learned a lot and kept what seemed to apply to our situation.
Our lifeline prayer for each of them has been. "Five boys? How am I going to help them grow into men, Lord?” I remember this question I asked God as if it were yesterday.
"How can a young man keep his way pure?” Asks the psalmist in Psalm 119:9a.
In response to this question, God led us in all kinds of verses in Psalms and Proverbs, that became guidelines for our parenting.
For example, we decided to have family devotions in the morning, five days a week, where everyone could sing, express themselves and pray around a Bible passage. Each day we had a recurring prayer theme in addition to specific topics which flexed around the events of our family life.
One book in particular that was influential for our journey was, "Raising Modern Day Knights" by Robert Lewis.
This book revealed to me that one of the reasons for the current crisis for our modern young men is that today there are no longer any rites of passage to mark a boy’s growth into adulthood. When do we become a man? When we get our first job, our driver's license, get married...?
So we set up for our sons these rites of passage:
At age 12-13, I took my boys one by one, once a month, to have a conversation with them about what it meant to be a man, to teach them about women, sexuality, and how to have a good work ethic... I did not position myself only as their father, but as a man myself, sharing some of my own experiences with them.
These conversations have become a moment of privileged relationship building that still serves as a regular basis for deep conversations between them and me.
At the age of 16, we had a secret “men only” ceremony, complete with an entrance test, welcoming each of our sons into the circle of men of faith.
There, surrounded by the important men of their lives, they heard testimonies of what it means to become a man. They learned that, even though mistakes are a part of life, they would not have to face these trials alone: Other men would be there for them.
When they turned 21 years old, we got the family together, and had a final, moving ceremony where they knelt down as boys and stood up as men in the sight of all present. There, they received as evidence of their final entry into adulthood, a signet ring reminding them of the values that had been passed on to them and that would henceforth lead them through each step of their lives. They were finally men, and recognized as such by their family members.
These are just examples, the ones that suited our family. But they reflect the intentionality that allowed us to see each of our sons grow into men. At first we did not know how to do this, but God led us and inspired us.
Educating our children is an immense responsibility that God has entrusted to us. We are convinced that today’s modern education passed down from parents to their children is the reason for many of the problems in today's society.
We pray that in these letters you will find a model that inspires you on your own adventure! What tips do you have for raising young men?
>>Do you want more tips for child education? Below you will find the links to two of our latest YouTube lives where we took time to answer various questions on how to raise children to love God and others.