I mentioned earlier that there were two primary ways fathers influence their boys. If modeling is the first, the second deals with the specific instruction that dads should transmit to their sons. That subject could fill many books, but I'll focus on the subtopic of what a father should teach his boys specifically about girls and women. They are unlikely to learn it anywhere else.
I'm going to throw some suggestions at you now in rapid succession, assuming you are a father of one or more boys. Here we go: If you speak disparagingly of the opposite sex, or if you refer to females as sex objects, those attitudes will translate directly into dating and marital relationships later on. Remember that your goal is to prepare a boy to lead a family when he's grown and to show him how to earn the respect of those he serves. Tell him it is great to laugh and have fun with his friends, but advise him not to be "goofy." Guys who are goofy are not respected, and people, especially girls and women, do not follow boys and men whom they disrespect. Also, tell your son that he is never to hit a girl under any circumstances. Remind him that she is not as strong as he is and that she is deserving of his respect. Not only should he not hurt her, but he should protect her if she is threatened. When he is strolling along with a girl on the street, he should walk on the outside, nearer the cars. That is symbolic of his responsibility to take care of her. When he is on a date, he should pay for her food and entertainment. Also (and this is simply my opinion), girls should not call boys on the telephone—at least not until a committed relationship has developed. Guys must be the initiators, planning the dates and asking for the girl's company. Teach your son to open doors for girls and to help them with their coats or their chairs in a restaurant. When a guy goes to her house to pick up his date, tell him to get out of the car and knock on the door. Never honk. Teach him to stand, in formal situations, when a woman leaves the room or a table or when she returns. This is a way of showing respect for her. If he treats her like a lady, she will treat him like a man. It's a great plan.
Make a concerted effort to teach sexual abstinence to your teenagers, just as you teach them to abstain from drug and alcohol usage and other harmful behavior. Of course you can do it! Young people are fully capable of understanding that irresponsible sex is not in their best interest and that it leads to disease, unwanted pregnancy, rejection, etc. In many cases today, no one is sharing this truth with teenagers. Parents are embarrassed to talk about sex, and, it disturbs me to say, churches are often unwilling to address the issue. That creates a vacuum into which liberal sex counselors have intruded to say, "We know you're going to have sex anyway, so why not do it right?" What a damning message that is. It is why herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases are spreading exponentially through the population and why unwanted pregnancies stalk school campuses. Despite these terrible social consequences, very little support is provided even for young people who are desperately looking for a valid reason to say no. They're told that "safe sex" is fine if they just use the right equipment. You as a father must counterbalance those messages at home. Tell your sons that there is no safety—no place to hide—when one lives in contradiction to the laws of God! Remind them repeatedly and emphatically of the biblical teaching about sexual immorality—and why someone who violates those laws not only hurts himself, but also wounds the girl and cheats the man she will eventually marry. Tell them not to take anything that doesn't belong to them—especially the moral purity of a woman.
Also, tell your boys that sex is progressive in nature. Kissing and fondling will lead inevitably to greater familiarity. That is just the way we are made. If guys are determined to remain moral, they must take steps to slow down the physical progression early in the relationship. Tell them not to start the engine if they don't intend to let it run. Finally, make it clear that sexual morality is not just right and proper; it is one of the keys to a healthy marriage and family life.
Begin these and other conversations early, geared to the age and maturity of the child. They must be well planned and carried out as the years unfold. Haven't you heard grown men say with conviction, "My father always told me ..."? This is because the things emphasized during childhood often stay with a person throughout life, even if they haven't appeared to "stick" at the time. In short, this kind of specific instruction is the substance of your responsibility to affirm, recognize, and celebrate your son's journey into manhood.
Admittedly, as I've said, some of the ideas I've suggested sound like "yesterday." But they still make sense to me because most of them are biblically based. They also contribute to harmonious relationships between the sexes, which will pay dividends for those who will marry. Dr. Michael Gurian said it best: "Every time you raise a loving, wise, and responsible man, you have created a better world for women. Women [today] are having to bond to half-men, with boys who were not fully raised to manhood, don't know how to bond, don't know what their responsibilities are to humanity, and don't have a strong sense of service."5 Today's fathers have an opportunity to change that.
I know the suggestions and ideas I have offered in this chapter put great pressure on us to be superdads, but that's just the way it is. I felt it too when our kids were small. Frankly, raising kids was a scary responsibility for Shirley and me. We knew we were inadequate to handle the job and that no one is capable of guaranteeing the outcome of that task. That's why we began praying diligently for the spiritual welfare of our children. Thousands of times through the years, we found ourselves on our knees asking for wisdom and guidance.
Then we did the very best we could at home. Somehow, that seems to have been enough. Both of our children love the Lord today and are wonderful human beings. Shirley deserves most of the credit for the outcome, but I gave it my best effort too. Fortunately, parents do not have to be perfect in order to transmit their values to the next generation.
Our heavenly Father will also answer your prayers for your kids if you turn to Him. He will guide them through the storms of adolescence. But He will not do for you what you can and must do for yourself, and that is what we are here to talk about.
Book: Bringing Up Boys
By Dr. James Dobson