I love my little girls, but I also love my little boys. But as I noted last week, they are very different. There are numerous things that are needed by both—things like support, affection, encouragement, confidence, prayer, etc. But there are also some things that need special attention for each gender. I became acutely aware of this when my second set of boy/girl twins were born. My little girls need specific things from their daddy. But there are also specific things that my little boys need from me as well.
A brief list can never cover everything. But, let me mention some essentials that my little boys need from me.
- To be pure. A war rages around us and the enemy seeks to devour us (I Peter 5:8). For most men, sexual temptation is constant and powerful, and the enemy uses every opportunity to entice us to indulge sexual sin. The result is destruction, for men and women. Fathers, our sons need our help. But how can we help if we are plagued by this sin. Our little boys need us to be pure and to protect them from the attacks of the enemy.
- To be a gentlemen. Little boys look to their fathers to see how to live and behave. They watch our every move and seek to emulate what we do. This is especially true when it comes to the way we treat women. If we are rude, unkind, or mistreat women, then they will too. We have to be deliberate to put a good example before them.
- To do guy stuff. As a little boy whose parents split up when I was 7, I can remember teaching myself how to carve with a knife, mow grass, shave, start a fire, and much more. I still had a relationship with my Dad, but he lived several hours away and most of these things I had to learn on my own. I would have given anything to have him there in those moments. I saw that need when I was a little boy, and I see it now as a father of my little boys. Every day, from the moment I get home, my boys crave my attention. They beg me to wrestle, throw a ball, play basketball, or get out my tools and fix their bikes. Our little boys need a daddy to get out there with them and do boy stuff.
- To balance gentleness and strength. Our culture offers a variety of misguided views about masculinity. One misguided approach suggests that boys are always tough, no matter what. Don’t get me wrong, we need strong men and strong boys more than we’ve ever needed them. But we also need men that know how to balance strength with gentleness. As St. Francis de Sales once noted, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength.”
- To model leadership and responsibility. We lament the way that men are portrayed in films, TV shows, and literature today. We’re often portrayed as childish, perverted, lazy, selfish, domineering, and much more. But these portrayals arise from reality, at least partially. Sadly, men often are like this. If we hope to change this, we must be deliberate about the way we raise our sons. They need to see us exercising honorable leadership.
- To love Christ. Finally, just like with our little girls, our little boys need to see their daddy loving and obeying Jesus. Praise God for godly moms, but they need to see this embodied in us. If we are spiritually passive, they will be too.
Dads, no one can impact your boys as much as you can. Your role cannot be overstated. If you lead and model well in these ways, your boys are very likely to follow. If you neglect this responsibility, however, your boys will be the poorer for it. I’m praying for you today as you love your boys!