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The recent trending topic of “toxic masculinity” has caught my attention lately, & as a single mother of boys, I must share my thoughts on this. Toxic masculinity can be defined as:
The constellation of socially aggressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devalutation of women, homophobia, & wanton violence-Terry Kupers
There seems to be an issue in America with boys growing into men who behave in violent, unemotional, & sexually aggressive ways. Of course, many would blame a culture in which male/female gender roles are emphasized, & boys are told to “toughen up,” & expected to be masculine & not overly expressive of their emotions, & don’t get me started on the role of the music & entertainment industry in it all. But is it possible that there’s something more to this problem?
I did a little research, & found that, in 2018, 19.65 million children in the U.S. were being raised in single parent homes, about 16.4 million of those children were being raised by single mothers (statista.com). A little more digging found a scholarly study in which was found that “boys do especially poorly in broken families” (Bertrand & Pan, 2013
“The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior.”). Perhaps, the problem isn’t “toxic masculinity.” Perhaps, the problem is an absence of masculinity in so many homes.
What can we, as single mothers, do to raise our boys to become honorable men? For starters, we need to teach them to live out the qualities of an honorable man. The primary role of a man is to provide for, protect, & have healthy relationships with their families, & we need to instill the correct traits in them which will prepare them to lead healthy families. According to Focus on the Family, some of the most important qualities moms can teach are perseverance, trustworthiness, courage, compassion, self-discipline & self-control, & honesty, & I couldn’t agree more. We want to teach our boys to become men who have the ability to persevere with courage in the face of adversity; who won’t turn & run when the going gets tough, but will stand strong in their faith, & have the ability to be honest with themselves & others, even when they have made mistakes. They need to have hearts of compassion, & not be bullies, but stand up for the bullied, defending the helpless. It is imperative that we hold our sons accountable for their actions at every age, so that they learn to maintain discipline & control over themselves & their choices. Lack of self-discipline & self-control can & will lead to addiction & the development of those “toxic” traits that we don’t want to see in our children.
We also need to surround them with honorable men who will model & help teach them those traits. It truly does take a village, & single moms of boys need to be able to acknowledge that we cannot teach boys how to be men, we do need help. If their father isn’t stepping up, we need to surround them by men who are willing to step up & mentor them. My boys have been blessed to have several men in our church, one in particular, who spend time with them, mentoring them, & setting an example for them of what an honorable, godly man looks like. I am forever grateful for the role these men play in the lives of my children. Another source of strong male role models is coaches- keep your boys involved in sports & activities that teach teamwork, respect, & build character. Some schools also offer a Gentelmen’s Club, which teaches boys to be polite, how to dress for success, shake hands properly, make eye contact, open doors for others, address their elders, & more. My oldest son was in one of these clubs & I believe it was a great help to him. You can also find good mentors in the volunteers at your local Boys & Girls Club or Big Brother programs. If you’re fortunate to have family close by, or close male friends, ask them if they’re willing to be intentional about mentoring your boys & helping you teach them how to become honorable men of integrity.
Last, & most importantly, we can pray. I heard someone say on the radio once, “Praying isn’t the least we can do, it’s the most we can do,” & that just stuck with me. It’s applicable to every area of our lives, especially in raising our children. It’s a tough job, one we didn’t plan to be doing alone, & certainly weren’t created to do alone. The good news is, we do have God on our side through it all, & He provides the help we need. Not only will prayer help us to find strength & wisdom in the tough times, but when we pray over our children, we can rest assured that God is listening & covering them. Some of the best prayers we can pray for our young men, are to pray scriptures over them.
- Pray that your boys will walk in the path of purity. (Psalm 119:9)
- Pray that they will trust the Lord & submit to His guidance. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- Pray that your sons will seek God first in all things & choose righteousness, trusting that He gives all that we need. (Matthew 6:33)
- Pray for your children to seek God’s will, not conforming to the ways of the world around them (Romans 12:2)
- Pray the the fruits of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control- will flow in & through your sons. (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Pray that your sons will put on the full armor of God daily, ready to stand strong & courageous against attacks of the enemy, knowing God goes before them. (Ephesians 6:11-17, Deuteronomy 31:6)
- Pray that your boys will be not just hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word, walking with hearts of thankful praise for God’s faithful, enduring love. (James 1:22, Psalm 118:1)
- Pray for your sons to have respectful, obedient hearts, not only towards you, but to all whom God has placed in authority over them, that they may live long, prosperous lives. (Ephesians 6:1-3, Exodus 20:12)
Raising boys can be tough, raising them alone as a woman can be even tougher. Teach them the qualities of an honorable man, reach out to the men in your church & community, involve them in character building activities, & keep them covered in prayer, & you will be well on your way to seeing them become honorable, godly men of integrity.
-Walking by Faith to Raise Honorable Men, Gerri