First the letter:
I have raised three girls and they all turned out well. My last child is a boy who has just turned fourteen. I am seeing signs of trouble and need some advice. I don’t think I know how to raise a boy. He is unhappy with his circumstances in life. He feels that I am depriving him of friends and opportunities to experience life. He wants a cell phone so he can share with others on social media. He wants to “hang out” with guys that I do not have confidence share our vision for our son. My greatest concern is that it seems I do not have his respect. We are really not friends. I feel like he thinks I am an impediment to his happiness. What can I do?
In most cases success is not due to any forethought or deliberation by the parents; they just pass on their hearts and temperament in a natural context incidentally suited to raising good kids. It’s the “old paths”—what average Christian, rural families were seventy-five years ago. Our society is no longer Christian and no longer natural. Community is not natural. Family is not natural. Education is not natural. And child training is not natural. There are still small pockets where young men and women come to marriage bringing with them a relaxed worldview and lifestyle that will result in good kids, but every year that circle becomes exponentially smaller.A family that works together stays together. A family that strives together thrives together. A family that is a working team, striving toward a common goal, will engender loyalty in their children. Things like feeding the animals, collecting eggs, butchering chickens so you will have meat on the table after church on Sunday, repairing the barn, or adding on a bedroom so the kids can spread out are examples. Taking the boys to work where they learn a trade is invaluable. Even the girls feel better about themselves when they have operated a weed eater, bringing in money to enhance the quality of life for the whole family.
The child who is not needed as part of the team will gravitate toward loyalties outside the family.Participation cannot be staged or fabricated. It must be real. The child who is not truly needed for the survival and well-being of the family will not develop holy pride and righteous ambition. He will turn to video games, social media, and friends who just “hang” together, talking about how the world “sucks.”Boy have a greater need to explore, invent, achieve something objective, conquer, and compete. They have a need to be meaningfully engaged in pursuits that yield objective results, like rebuilding automobiles, painting a house, cutting firewood, building something that others will admire. They are little kings looking to build a kingdom and furnish it. Idleness (including entertainment) breeds self-loathing and wanderlust.
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