A Plea To Parents of Teenage Boys

A month ago, Jessica my youngest, a freshman in high school, rode the bus to school. It was a very cold morning with wind chills in the single digits. As she was waiting in line for the bus, shivering, a bunch of boys walked up and cut in front of her in line. I guess they were joining their friend who was already in line ahead of her. The boys got on the bus first, one by one, as she waited behind them shivering in the freezing cold.

Gone are the days of chivalry. Gone are the days of teaching boys to be respectful to girls and women.

There is more to being a young man of integrity than holding the door open. Although a good thing for boys to be taught to do, young boys need to be taught to treat girls delicately and respectfully.

Chivalry starts with opening doors, and occasionally letting a girl go first in line. Or giving up their seat for a female classmate. And they should never push or shove girls in the hallways of schools.

“What is she smoking?” you might be thinking. This is 2017, chivalry went out the window a long time ago. 

A majority of what I have seen through my daughters is teenage boys treating teenage girls like objects for their enjoyment. Teenage girls are not treated with respect. What I have seen is boys hurting and taking advantage of girls, not protecting them or keeping them safe.

Did you know that according to Kholofelo Mashiloane, “The term (chivalry) was originally coined in Medieval times, describing a knight who followed a code of conduct. That code had far less to do with the doors he opened, the bills he paid, or the romantic words that gushed from his mouth–and far more to do with his character and his heart.”

A true man of chivalry was a man who protected the rights of the weak, displayed strength, character and courage. A man of chivalry was known for his integrity, his loyalty, his faith, and the way he feared his God. A man of chivalry was defined by his respect and honor for women, and his willingness to lay down his rights.  ~Kholofelo Mashiloane

And how does a man get to be a true man of chivalry? He needs to be taught these things, as a boy, primarily by his father.

Fathers need to step it up. It is my plea. Please, fathers, teach your sons the right way to treat girls. Teach them to cherish, value and protect them. Not to use them. Teach them to see teenage girls through God’s eyes. I beg you, as a mother of two teenage girls.

Are fathers of boys teaching them chivalry? Are they teaching their sons the correct way to treat girls? Are fathers teaching boys how to be Godly men?

I don’t see it.

Don’t get me wrong, teenage girls can be pretty awful too; to each other and to boys. But when it comes to matters of the heart, girls are often preyed upon. The heart of a teenage girl is so fragile, so tender. And I have seen teenage boys stomp all over a girl’s heart when he is bored of her.

And I am not just talking about unchurched boys.

Currently, I am writing a chapter entitled, “Are we Different?” for my book, Pouring In, exploring that very question. Most teenage boys in the church and probably girls too are not different because of their faith. Our teenagers have blended into the culture . . . just like we have.

What if there are boys who are predators within the youth group at church? Who is going to protect the girls in the church from the boys? Do we have a responsibility to protect them?

A friend of mine from church who has all boys once said to me. “I really wish parents of teenage girls would make them dress modestly. It’s really hard for teenage boys when girls walk around in next to nothing!”

Ever since she said that, I have tried to enforce rules of dressing modestly for my girls. I have tried to support her as a mother of teenage boys. Parents of girls should be teaching them about the importance of not causing their brothers in Christ to sin. That is my job as a mother of girls.

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.  1 Corinthians 8:13

It seems to me, at 14 and 16, Christian boys—boys in the church—should be treating girls with more dignity and respect. They are old enough to have been taught what it means to be a young man. They are old enough to handle relationships in a more mature manner.

But, I don’t see it.

Kholofelo Mashiloane writes in his blog post, “A Real Man Of CHIVALRY,” the following.

A real man may open your door but more importantly, he opens his heart, his feelings, and gives of his life.
A real man may pay for your meal but he’s also willing to selflessly lay down his rights.
A real man may carry your bag but more than that he will gently hold your heart.
A real man may offer you his coat in the cold but he will ultimately offer you his respect, honor, and loyalty that’s displayed in how he lives his life.
A real man is one who imitates Christ in the way he loves.

Christian fathers must teach their teenage boys what it means to be “a real man.” If fathers are silent about this, the world will teach them plenty. And that’s mostly what we see. Boys misusing their sexuality and taking advantage of girls.

So, my plea is to fathers of teenage boys. It is up to YOU to teach your son the appropriate way to treat girls. It is up to YOU to teach your son how to treat a girl in a dating relationship. It is up to YOU to teach your son how to restrain his sexuality, and to protect and preserve the purity of girls around them.

I write this out of desperation, out of frustration, and out of anger for how boys have treated my daughters, boys in the school and in the church. I feel helpless and sad for them that this is the world I have brought them into. A world where a majority of teenage boys are selfish at best and predators at worst.

 

To Date or Not To Date

Just when you think you know what you are doing as a parent. Just when you think “I’ve got this.” Just when you think you are a decent parent, your kids start dating. Then everything you thought you knew goes out the window. And you start over from square one.

Should we let our teenagers date? How old is old enough?

Kids in this country often start dating at such as young age. Kids are “dating” in middle school and even elementary. And by high school, they are playing house.

American culture has defined dating for teenagers as kissing, having sex, and using the word “babe” after every sentence. They try to act like they are practically married. It’s scary that this is the “norm.”

The emphasis of dating is on the physical not the relational or the spiritual.

A girl should get so lost in God, that a guy has to seek Him to find her.
~John Piper, Desiring God

There are two reasons why teenagers shouldn’t date in high school.

First, the obvious reason of teens and sex. It is hard to think of how many years my girls have before they will likely marry. If they get married at the same age I did, it will be in eight to ten years. That is a long time not to have sex in this culture.

Unless you live under a rock you probably know that most teens are having sex. And that includes those in the church. A significant number of kids from Christian households are growing up and deciding to have sex before marriage.

“80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex.” ~John Blake, CNN, “Why young Christians aren’t waiting anymore”

We are such a sex crazed nation. We have so perverted sex that it doesn’t seem to even resemble what God designed it to be. How do you come back from that? Is there any hope for our kids to remain pure?

Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.  Song of Solomon 8:4

If our kids awaken love at an early age, they may do things that they will later regret.

Second, we shouldn’t let our teenagers date in high school because it takes their focus off of God, family and school. Our kids’ jobs as teenagers is to love and obey God and His Son Jesus, to love their family, and to learn a skill or trade (go to school!). That’s pretty much it!

Same sex friends and church are also an important part of our teenagers’ lives. They need to be learning how to love others and participate in a community.

Anything else is pretty much a distraction at their age.

However, each parent has to decide what is best for their kids and their family. You know your teen. If you don’t let them date, are they likely to withdraw from you and sneak around? Or, will they be upset at first, but basically obey you? We should consider these things when making our decision.

We must weigh the risk of a breakdown of communication with our kids. Fostering open communication with our teenagers is crucial. Parenting teens requires a delicate balance. It is like walking a tightrope over a very deep canyon. If you get it wrong, you can fall to your death.

I am not saying that we should parent out of fear. However, very few of the issues parents face with teenagers are black and white.

Sometimes I miss the days when my girls were little and right and wrong was clear and obvious. I was an awesome parent then! But now I realize, even though young parents are physically exhausted and don’t have much time for themselves, it is much easier to know what to do. My husband and I have faced so many gray areas in our parenting lately that we have forgotten what black and white look like! It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.

I am in no way judging parents who do let their kids date in high school. We did. However, I am realizing that the ideal would have been for our kids to have waited to date. That would have been the ideal.

However, how much of life is ideal? Not much, I find. Especially in parenting teenagers in America in 2017! We do the very best we can, and realize that we are not perfect parents. I am not even close!

Ultimately, only God knows what twists and turns our kids will make on their way to the cross.

But, we can pray, and teach them that there isn’t anything that can separate them from the love of God. And that there is nothing they can do to earn, or lose, the grace that has been freely given to them.

A man 2,000 years ago hung on a cross, bloodied and beaten, for your kids and mine. Their sins have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That is all the hope we need.


Kim Kurtz is writing a book called, Pouring In: Instilling a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation, due to come out this fall. A majority of Christian kids leave the faith after they leave home. She explores why this is happening and what Christian parents can do differently to change the outcome for their kids.