Saturday, October 14, 2006

Future Men, by Douglas Wilson

If you haven't guessed by now, we particularly enjoy Wilson's books on child rearing. We feel confident that he has a level-headed and biblical approach to the challenge. While some may disagree with us on this point, we will disagree with them.

Many of Wilson's books overlap in wisdom, instruction and definitely in tone. However, this doesn't prompt us to avoid any particular title. As he mentions in the introduction to Future Men, each topic deserves its own points. While it is true that his book Standing on the Promises contains some of the same information as Future Men, FM is directed specifically at raising men. As it seems that such a task lies in our future, this seemed a worthy read.

Wilson tidily sums up his book with his basic truth and premise in which he states:

"Boy are future men. Young men are future men. This means they are future husbands and future warriors. When they arrive at that point, the responsibilities they encounter must not come as a surprise to them." (page 171)

The idea behind this book is that a baby boy is a future man and should be treated and reared as such. Does this mean that he is automatically given the responsibilities of a man and that all expectations of his future are laid at his door step the moment he takes his first breath? No. But it does mean that we are to acknowledge a difference between the male and female sexes and that they are to be raised differently. A boy will have energy and strength, which is rightfully born with, which needs tempering and guidance. It is not wrong for a boy to want to be "tough" and rowdy -- but how such behavior is displayed does need direction from his parents. Not everything is acceptable.

For example, Wilson mentions that there are many Christian (and otherwise!) parents who do not think it proper for a young boy to want to play with guns/swords and/or rough house. Wilson suggests that it is just as natural for a boy to want to play the warrior as it is for a little girl to want to mother a baby doll. Both sexes reactions are correct and biblical. However, many boys are discouraged from "playing" at war. I've known a few families who are against the idea of their sons playing with toy guns or swords. But we must come to recognize that this male trait is honorable and we must teach our sons to act honorable with such weapons and in such a way of behaving. Wilson says:

"This means that a boy who is playing with a toy gun should be trained to never use it more freely simply because it is not real. A small boy who is playing war with his brothers should be pointing and blasting away with the best of them. But if a lady from church comes over to visit the young boy's mother, and is standing in the foyer, and the boy comes up and tries to blow her away, the young warrior's mother should haul him off to the bedroom to be tried for war crimes. The visitor was a civilian and noncombatant, and Mother should be schooled in the principles of just war theory, and she should enforce the rules." (Page 131)

In short, a boy should not be condemned for his strength or sense of loyalty, honor and dignity. However, proper training is involved to ensure that he grows up knowing exactly what those words mean, biblically speaking.

I think for me, reaching this point of the book, I realized (again) how very important it is for a father to be involved in the raising up of his sons. As Wilson says - a father raises his son by remembering what it was like to be one. A mother raises a son without remembrance. I've never been a son. I don't know how to be one. Therefore I am 100% reliant on my husband to tell me what it was like to be one and why my son is behaving the way that he is. This by no means indicates that mothers aren't capable of raising sons. Obviously we are! But the father figure is vital.

Also, Wilson is a proponent (as are we) of introducing our future young man (men) to stories of heroes of the faith and other great literary characters who display traits that we wish to instill within our sons. For example, King Peter from The Chronicles of Narnia, Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, etc. These are literary characters of honor and deserve a place within our son's imagination. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of teaching character traits through the use of a good story. Jesus happened to use the same method himself when trying to communicate biblical truths (i.e., the Parables). We can learn from Jesus' example when trying to impart truths to our children as well.

Obviously this book has a lot to say on the Art of Raising Men. I've merely scratched the surface. The bottom line is, we need to realize that little boys will one day be grown men. As Wilson says - what they are a little of right now, they will be a lot of later. It is important to guide and direct them into being the Men of God we pray they will be. This includes training in areas such as 1. Biblical instruction 2. general education 3. finances 4. respect for women and the list is longer.

This is a book we would recommend for any parent of a young boy, even if it just to prompt a little thought towards the idea of this world's future men. Who do we want them to be? What do we want them to look like? How do we wish for them to behave? Who do we wish for them to serve? These questions shouldn't be asked when they are 15 or 16 for then the training period is pretty much over. These questions should be asked from the cradle when the little man can get the most "bang for his buck" out of his parents. The time to start training is now so that when the time comes to let go - they are ready to stand on their own as Men in their own right.


Unknown said...

Great review! I have one girl and one boy. The boy is different I have found. I have not specifically enforced or avoided gender stereotypes, so this surprised me, since my daughter was always awfully active and not at all "princess-y."

Anyway, my son is 2 1/2, and loves to be loud and crash cars and crash himself into things. I love it!

Carrie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carrie said...

Thanks, Jennifer. We're at the very beginning of the parenting journey are so are devouring ideas at this point which we anticipate putting into practice within...the next few weeks!

kelly said...

There's another book that you may enjoy called Preparing Him for the Other Woman by Sheri Rose Shepherd, which is directed towards the mother. This is also a book which focuses on raising Godly sons to love and respect women and others in general. Blessings

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