My concern for the future of boys is personal. I have two grandsons, both nearing age three. I’m the pastor of a church with boys of all ages. These are real boys, boys I care about, who are growing up in a world:
- Where boys are increasingly falling behind girls in school
- Where the reading skills of teenage boys have been in decline for 20 years
- Where fewer males are attending and graduating from college
- Where increasing numbers of boys are being raised without positive male energy being poured into them and therefore have no noble vision for what it means to be a man
Imagine the implications, not only for our boys, but for our culture, if the above trends continue (and at this point, there seems to be no reason why they won’t):
- Policymakers in the US calculate that if 5% more boys completed high school and matriculated to college, the nation would save $8 billion a year in welfare and criminal justice costs. (Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley, Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys: Strategies that Work and Why, p. ix). What will it cost us if the trend continues and more and more boys don’t finish high school and matriculate to college?
- The majority of new jobs will increasingly require strong reading and verbal skills. Our boys are falling behind in that area. 80% of the fastest growing careers will require a post-secondary education. Fewer boys are pursuing that education. Where will they get employment? Will they be able to earn a liveable wage? What might the impact be on our social systems if boys/men don’t keep up educationally or skills-wise with our economy?
- What will be the impact on male/female relationships? As women fly past men in terms of education, employment skills, and income (young adult women now make more money that young adult men–The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What it Means for American Schools, Thomas A. Diprete and Claudia Buchmann, p. 3), where will women looking for a life partner find a man who can be her equal intellectually, emotionally, and so on? (I have a granddaughter, so this issue is also personal for me!)
- With few men mentoring our boys with a compelling vision for manhood, what will be the impact of these vision-less boys/men on families? Fatherhood? Citizenship? All too often, boys with no heroic vision for manhood either become violent or passive. Culture and families suffer greatly from both violent males and passive males.
This isn’t just a parenting issue…a school issue…a church issue. It’s a cultural issue. It impacts and will continue to impact all of us.
Why should you care? For the reasons stated above and many more, but most important of all: Because these boys are created in the Image of God, male. They matter to God. God created them to matter to us. To matter to society. Healthy, vibrant, noble, educated males build a better world. We need them. That’s why you should care.