Tag: boys

Encouraging boys to be boys

Boys will be boys, so “they” say to the chagrin of moms everywhere.

Let me be honest: my wife struggles sometimes. Her natural instinct is to protect and nurture. And while that’s needed…a lot…sometimes it’s not needed. (FYI, my wife is amazing, and she’s learned how to encourage our son in great ways to be “all boy.”) Sometimes boys need to be allowed to be boys. Sometimes boys need to take stupid risks. Break things. Jump off of couches and counters. Skin their knees.

It’s what makes boys boys. And it’s part of what helps boys transition to becoming men.

The transition to manhood doesn’t begin at puberty. That transition begins lots earlier. It begins on the playground. The monkey bars call young boys out of their fear. The slide that ends in a pile of rocks woos the boy right out and engages him in a way that they’ll be facing in the world as adults. “Take risks now” is what we should be telling boys. “Do things that makes others cower in fear…and don’t wait.”

If you don’t let boys take risks, they’ll always play it safe. Then when God calls them to something huge, something bigger than themselves, something with great risk of failure if God himself doesn’t show up, they’ll cower in fear. They’ll snap under the pressure…just like the boy in the swimming pool who wouldn’t jump off of the high dive.

How you respond to fear as an adult is often reflective of how you were taught to respond as a child.

If you have boys, let them do dangerous things. Let them go outside and get dirty, rip a hole in their jeans, and bust their lip. Let them climb trees, stub their toes, and splash in muddy puddles. It will feel counterintuitive to your protective, nurturing nature as a parent but in the long run, it’ll pay off.

My wife and I are trying to do this with our son. And he’s turned in to quite the frog catcher. He just hadn’t had one do this on him yet.


Rex & the frog from Ben Reed on Vimeo.

Raise boys to be men. Not boys.


Do you have children? How do you think raising boys is different than raising girls?


Raising Men

I love being a dad. Especially a dad to a boy.

I don’t necessarily know what I’m doing…I’m learning every day, and I’m loving the journey.

At the mall just the other day, I heard a dad telling his son,

No. No. No. Be careful. No. Don’t jump off of that bench. It’s not safe. No. No. Be careful.

And it rubbed me the wrong way.

One thing I’ve learned is that raising a boy often goes against your natural instincts. Especially my wife’s natural instincts.

A parent’s natural instinct is to protect their child. Which, no doubt, has prevented countless tears in my house alone. Parents want to protect them from

  • falling
  • jumping off of things
  • jumping into things
  • climbing things
  • eating things
  • putting fingers in things
  • putting things in the trash
  • getting things out of the trash
  • coloring the wrong things
  • going outside
  • rolling in that
  • touching that

But if you’re going to raise a boy to grow into a man, you’ve got to fight against your natural instincts at times. Here’s a principal I’ve learned in the 3 years I’ve raised my son:

If you say ‘No’ or ‘Be careful’ more than you encourage your son to take a risk, you’re limiting your son’s potential.

Boys long to be dangerous. They want to take risks and be adventurous. They have a God-given desire to do things that could very well cause them bodily harm.

And in a flash, your God-given reaction to protect meets his God-given desire to risk.

We want our children to feel the freedom to innovate, try new things, and take risks when they get older, right? To not be held in bondage by social norms and cultural expectations. We want them to be willing to take bold and courageous steps of faith. No?

I understand that those risks need to be shepherded, but they need not be stifled. ‘Be careful’ shouldn’t be the two words that come out of your mouth more than any other. Next time you’re getting ready to say, ‘Be careful,’ try inserting the words, ‘Let’s do this!’

Instead of forbidding them from taking risks, be with them and encourage them while they take the risk. Show them that it’s okay to be dangerous sometimes. To go on an adventure. To do something that momma may not approve of. To try something they’ve never seen anyone else try. To attempt something that may not pan out.

I’ve seen young boys that are scared to death to take even a small risk. They’re afraid of falling and hurting themselves. They’re afraid of failure.

So they never try.

It’s sad, really.

Boys aren’t meant to just be caged up. Boys are testing out the ropes of manhood. Don’t cut those strings.



Harnessing courage

My son is a running, jumping ball of courage right now.

  • He rides his 4-wheeler down our front steps.
  • He jumped down 3 stairs the other day…measuring at least his height.  He hit the floor, tumbled a little, and kept on running and laughing.
  • Yesterday, he rode down our driveway (a fairly steep hill) as fast as he could on his little plastic truck…which was definitely not intended to be ridden as fast or as hard as he was riding it.
  • He’s not afraid (usually) of talking with a complete stranger.
  • He jumped off of his bed.  It’s taller than he is.

He just has this courageous spirit in him.  And I fight my hardest to not discipline that out of him.

Because seeing my son do courageous things thrills my heart, and I know it’s a expression of his God-given spirit of adventure.  And it would be easy for me to discipline that out of him in the name of safety and order.  I could demand that he not run amuck, that he play it safe, that he walk (err…jump) a more careful path.

But I am convinced that that’s not best for him in the long run.  That’s simply what’s good for me and my sanity in the short-run.

I want to encourage my son to continue to take risks.  Stand up to challenges.  Do things nobody else is doing.  Blaze his own path.  Follow his dream.  And live out the calling God’s placed on his life.  I want to teach my son to live dangerously. It’s much easier to rein that courage in, and point it towards Christ, than to re-program a man to live dangerously. I want to encourage him to be courageous now, and reward those small feats.

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. – 1 Chronicles 28:20

Have you ever been encouraged to live dangerously?

Disagree with the idea that boys (and men) living dangerously is a good thing?  Feel free to push back!  Click HERE to jump in the comments!


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