Note: This is the introduction to a series of columns, or chapters, on fathers raising sons to maturity. A fresh chapter will appear every week on this website. Each one is designed for a father to read with his 12 or 13 year-old son. Feedback, especially from fathers reading these chapters with their sons, will be deeply appreciated!
This book is about becoming a real man.
There is a crying need for a strong masculine presence in our homes, our churches, our communities and our nation today. We have become feminized as a culture, and the muscular strength which is needed to protect our values, our culture, and even our daughters has been bled away.
Young women, eager to take refuge under the protection of a strong husband, can’t find one. Some even despair, and either figure they will go unmarried for life or have to settle.
Where do the men of tomorrow come from?
Well, Dad, you are raising one of them right now. You are shaping an arrow in your quiver, preparing it for launch.
There is only one place we are going to find the men our nation will need in the years to come: they must come from the homes of today; not from our churches, although the church clearly has a role; not from our schools, which have abandoned character instruction altogether; not from youth organizations, as helpful as they may be, for the simple reason that no one can replace a father in a young boy’s life.
The bottom line is that America is looking to the dads of today for the strong men of tomorrow.
These articles are designed for you to read with your son between his 12th and 13th birthday, which was the customary age at which a Jewish boy became a “son of the law,” the literal meaning of the phrase “bar-mitzvah.”
It was at age 12 that Jesus was first found in the Temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). Why was he there? Because he had become a “son of the law” and now had the responsibility to follow the law which required all adult males to travel to Jerusalem for the three annual feasts.
A Jewish boy at age 12 was no longer considered a child. He was a young man, and was expected to accept adult responsibilities and live no longer as a child but as a man.
In our culture, which has celebrated prolonged adolescence and turned it into a virtual art form, it’s long past time for us to challenge our young boys to see themselves as young men and act accordingly.
The article that follow this one are designed to help you firmly establish your own son in the timeless wisdom of Solomon. It’s designed to help you put him on a glide path to independence and maturity as he prepares to leave home and take his own place in the world.
I was struck several years ago with a sudden and eye-opening realization that the book of Proverbs is a training manual for fathers. No less than 23 times in this book Solomon addresses his words to “my son.” It is a distillation of the wisdom the wisest man who ever lived was eager to impart to his own son.
So while there are many uses to which the book of Proverbs may be put, there is no use that is more important than its original one: to help dads raise masculine, mature, muscular, and godly sons.
As you read these articles to your son, and pray the truth of the Word of God into his life, it is my hope that God will use the words on these pages to make a lifelong difference in his life. The woman he marries and the children they bear together will be eternally grateful that you cared enough to “train (him) up…in the way he should go.”
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)