“Re-Stereotyping” Boys–Part 1: Boy Biology

Faster than a speeding bullet…

More powerful than a turbo jet engine…

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…

Look, up in the sky…it’s a bird…it’s a plane…

It’s a boy!

In my last post I suggested that our attempts to get rid of boy stereotypes has left our boys without any idea of what it means to be a boy.  We’ve robbed them (and us) of any vision of boyhood and haven’t replaced it with anything of substance.

I also suggested that just because something’s a stereotype doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

And finally I suggested that perhaps we need to dig into the root meaning of stereotype, which means “solid impression” and present boys with a solid impression of who they can be.

Boy biology offers us a great starting point into what it means to be a boy.

The primary hormonal shaper of a boy is testosterone.  It’s what makes a boy a boy in mom’s womb.  The average boy has loads more of it than girls (depending on the boy, up to 20 times more!) And that testosterone provides a solid impression for boys to live into:

Testosterone in an energy hormone.  An action hormone.  A get something done hormone.  A risk-taking hormone.  It is, in other words, the fuel of superheroes.  Testosterone is the energy that motivates a boy, when forged in healthy ways, to save the world.  Every boy begins life wanting to be a superhero…to fight the bad guys, to save the world.  To make the world a better place.  When harnessed for good and noble purposes, testosterone is the power that energizes our boys for greatness.

The biology of testosterone, then, offers a stereotype—a solid impression—for boys to live into: boys have been created by God to save the world.  Part of the fun of raising a boy with that solid impression is to see what gifts he has, how he will use those gifts, and how God will use him to make a difference in the world.

A “boy brain” adds to this heroic solid impression of a boy’s purpose in life.  My friend Michael Gurian tells us that the average male brain utilizes nearly seven times more gray matter for activity while the female brain utilizes nearly ten times more white matter.  Essentially this means that boys have a God-created ability to laser focus on a task.  When you’re saving the world, regardless of how each boy does that, you need to stay focused on the mission.  Accessing his gray matter also moves a boy from mulling over something excessively (part of the challenge girls deal with due to their use of white matter) to solving the problem—a great skill for super heroes.

Almost every boy dreams of being a super hero.  It’s a God-given dream, a dream created in him.  A solid impression for him to live into—to guide his life and give him purpose.  Each boy will live out that dream differently depending on his gifts and passions.

Imagine a world full of heroic boy superheroes.  That’s one stereotype worth promoting.

Next post: The “Stereotype” of Character

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About Tim Wright

I've been a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 1984, currently serving as the founding pastor of Community of Grace in Peoria, AZ. My wife, Jan and I, were married in 1979. We raised two kids and currently have 3 grandkids. I love to ride my bike, travel, read British Mysteries, and Disneyland. I have written 6 books, including my newest--Searching for Tom Sawyer: How Parents and Congregations Can Stop the Exodus of Boys From Church. My website: www.TimWrightMinistries.org