“Re-Stereotyping” Boys, Part 2: Character

As I mentioned in my last two posts, in our well-intentioned desire to rescue our boys (and girls) from boy stereotypes, we have unintentionally robbed boys of any vision for what it means to be a boy.  And with no vision for boyhood, boys have no sense of what it means to be a man.

Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t mean it’s not true or that it can’t be helpful.  In fact, one of the ways we can reclaim the “boy” in “boyhood” is to re-embrace some powerful, life-shaping stereotypes that cultures have embraced for thousands of years.

The root word for stereotype is “solid impression.”  And there are several solid impressions that have shaped boys in the past and can forge them in the future.

The first solid impression (stereotype) grows out of a boy’s biology, as I mentioned in my last post.  Based on the way a boy’s brain works and his primary hormone, testosterone, a boy was created by God to be a superhero.

For centuries cultures have recognized this positive stereotype (even before they knew anything about hormones or brain science) and built on that stereotype by calling boys into archetypes or metaphors that would forge boys’ biological call to be superheroes with heroic character qualities.

These archetypes, or solid impressions, give boys pictures of what it means to be a boy.  What it looks like to live out the life of a superhero.  What it means to be a boy of character.

These archetypes include:

The King—This is the call to be boys of integrity and honor; boys who do the right thing.

The Warrior—A boy is someone who fights for what it good, right, and honorable.  He keeps his commitments.  He doesn’t give up.  He fights to make the world a better place.  He fights not to destroy life but to give life.

The Magician—As a boy grows, he becomes increasingly aware of his God-given abilities and talents, then uses to learn those talents wisely, serving others heroically.

The Lover—Superhero boys live to serve others; to love the world the way God does: sacrificially, generously, boldly, bravely, and compassionately.

Michael Gurian offers this overview of boys (to which the two of us added archetypes and then translated them into a Rite of Passage Program):

Honorable King

Enterprising Warrior

Responsible Servant

Original Craftsman

Intimate Friend

Creative Explorer

How boys live out these archetypes (stereotypes) will be as vast and different as there are boys in the world.

But imagine a world of boys forged by, shaped by, and living out those stereotypes!

Coming Up: The Divine Stereotype

 

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


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