Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Future Men, by Douglas Wilson

We have some of these in our house. Future men, that is. Two little youngsters, learning about the world and how to make their mark on it. We've had a copy of Future Men sitting around our house for awhile now. Jonathan read it when our first little man was born, but I had never read it. Now having done so, I would say that it was a helpful book balanced against I'm Outnumbered (which, I thought, was more helpful to me as a mother of sons. Title linked to my review.) Future Men was not written just to fathers though and mothers most certainly should not avoid it. Wilson has a nice way of spelling out the truth in completely obvious and humorous ways. (Well, I think he's funny anyway.) Even though it might be obvious to males, the things Wilson shares in this book might not be as obvious to females.

Perhaps the reason I most like this book is because Wilson takes a strong stand for manhood. In a society that would rather like their men to be weak and silent (and the women empowered and independent) it's refreshing to hear a message that men should be leaders and should be, well, men. They should be strong humble leaders, unafraid of responsibility, having a servant heart and yet the heart of a warrior. Wilson is arguing that young boys be trained to be the men that they will eventually be.

"Boys 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 should not come as a surprise to them." (page 171)

Wilson discusses the topic of masculinity - not the brutish kind that feminists try to tell us are abhorrent to the human race - but Biblical masculinity which I'm going to call "servant leadership" for the sake of this post. I think it best describes the whole of what Wilson is trying to describe and what I walked away thinking about. It isn't an effeminate masculinity that is sitting quietly on the sidelines afraid to make waves or hold open doors to passing females. It is the type that is secure in itself and what it was created to be and do - for the glory of God! It is tenderhearted, caring for the opposite sex in a confident and understanding way.

In Future Men Wilson first addresses fathers, admonishing and calling them to model Biblical masculinity to their sons and to train them up in the way that they should go. The call, of course, is to lead by example and not by brute force or by hiding out in the garage, shirking their role as head of the household.

Wilson addresses topics such as: dealing with unseen/tolerated sins, teaching them to be hard workers, how to train them to handle money, what Christian Liberty really means in relation to participating or indulging in various activities, how a young man should treat his mother and sisters, how he should be educated, how to approach sex and dating and also how to be counter-cultural (in terms of not being consumer minded, swayed by what popular culture says that you should have or need.) Wilson definitely covers a lot of ground in this fast-paced 192 page book. I found it full of practical advice and was helpful to the female reader in pointing out how boys are wired and what they are naturally inclined towards. Wilson heavily emphasizes the point that the wife should follow her husband's lead in raising young men, since he was once one himself and therefore has a better understanding of how the male mind works. This, of course, puts the responsibility for raising young men where it should ultimately be - on the father! (I think it goes without saying but Wilson is definitely writing to a family unit here. A single mother would benefit from this read as well, as it would absolutely reveal what a young man needs. I would say that, if I were a single mother, I would make a point of actively seeking out a reliable father figure for my sons!)

Wilson's call is for men to be men. And little boys are future men, so this book is entirely relevant for parents with sons. I picked it up after Bookworm3 (our first girl!) was born because after her birth I noticed a shift in the behavior of our two sons. Suddenly the differences between boys and girls became glaringly obvious. My boys suddenly seemed more, well, boy-ish and some of their behavior had become (and still is, I confess!) baffling to me. They were louder. More active. More boy-like than I had never noticed before. The presence of pink made the differences more obvious to me, which has been interesting for me to think about and process. (I'm still processing.) I very much like I'm Outnumbered because I think it brings care and discipline to the home, establishing the need for honor and respect among the family members. I like Future Men because it reminds me that my boys aren't made to be girls. (I think having a girl helped with that as well!) They were made to lead, care and protect their sister (and others around them.) They were made to serve God boldly and rise to meet the responsibilities that God has given them as future heads of households. The way I relate to them, by their very nature, needs to be different from the way I relate to my daughter. This is a learning process. This is why I read this book. I'm not here to say that I've got it all together and now that I've read it I have mapped out my parenting plan and we are well on our way to successful future men! (I pray that is the case, however.) I'm just saying that the introduction of a girl into the home showed me some inadequacies in myself, as a parent, in the way I was training my sons. I believe that there are fundamental differences between men and women and those differences should be acknowledged. I am not saying that one sex is better than another, I'm just saying that they are different than the other. Somehow having a girl gave me permission to more fully embrace this and gave me a nudge to really know and LEARN this so that I can properly parent my future men and my future woman. For the glory of God.


Annette W. said...

I like the sound of this book, esp bc I can encourage my husband to read it!

Thank you!

Barbara H. said...

This sounds good -- I wish it had been around when mine were small!

L.A.C.E. said...

wow I have 3 future men! I need to read this asap. Thanks for bringing it to my attention :D

Keri @ Pop Parables said...

This book sounds like it would be very useful for me as a mom of all {3} boys. It's very important to me to raise them as men of God. But, I also want to treasure their childhood. I like how the emphasis here is on the father's role. Even though I am the one who is with them 80% of the time, they one they are really going to emulate, is their father. Sure, they will pick up things from me, too. But, the strongest role model is the same sex parent. Thanks for the review!

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

I'll have to check this book out, Carrie! Looks interesting.

Your boys are comrades now, you know -- brothers at arms. They'll probably stick closer together now, I figure. Not against little sister, but different from. At least you have a smattering of pink in your household! Enjoy - viva la difference!

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