Years ago I heard a pastor share that his staff had sent a questionnaire out to parents of the youth asking them what their greatest fears were and consequently where they needed the most support regarding raising their kids. Drugs, premarital sex, all the usual suspects were listed, except for one that this pastor thought (especially for boys) could be their undoing.
I’ve already given away in the title of this post what this pastor thought could be the culprit in robbing young men of their futures, laziness. I wholeheartedly agree as I have had to watch this silent killer of dreams dismantle lives that had every ingredient to be both successful and a good example for others.
A sin young men are always being warned of is pornography. However, I would argue that the habit of laziness, whether it be physical, intellectual, or spiritual can be even more devastating to a boy’s life.
One of the reasons that I am not a fan of video games, other than the fact that they are addicting, is that no matter how long a video game is played there is rarely anything beneficial (to the boy and especially for others) that is ever produced. Another problem is that they can consume so much time, time that is not spent creating and physically playing.
I think the hard physical work (chores) that families commonly did for themselves are no longer a requirement for kids. Helping with housework, yard work, the family garden, taking care of any pets – these are done by parents now or hired out to others.
Physical work in which you work up a sweat is so necessary to young men. I have three sons and can tell you when your boys are physically tired they are so much less likely to get into or cause trouble. There is something noble about young men physically working that builds both physical strength and self-esteem.
What advice would I give to parents of boys? Limit their time online. Require them to do work outside, no matter if this means moving to another home that has some property, have pets that they must care for, plant a garden together each year with things they enjoy eating – tending it together during the gardening season.
There are always older folks in our communities that need help with things inside their homes and also caring for their yards. Find someone that you know, or through a local church, and help that couple or individual on a regular basis, taking your boys with you. Young men should learn how to care for others. It helps with self-centeredness.
I believe the best way to prevent intellectual laziness is to instill a love of learning through reading good books. We were at the library constantly as my sons grew up. Reading can be your child’s welcome relief to studying and personal family responsibilities.
Now, with Kindle, you don’t even have to make the trip to the library. Set aside time before bed or hot afternoons in the summer for reading time. If you want to bond with your kids, I know the secret. Read to them. Even if they are all in their rooms, resting on their beds, sit in the hall where they can all hear and read an adventure story. They will come to love this time and treasure it forever. I promise.
Finally, spiritually. Wow, this one is a tough one for me to talk about. I have learned the hard way that the best way (not a given) to ensure generational faithfulness in your sons is to sew seeds, not force feed.
When your child fails, talk about why their behavior missed the mark and encourage them to ask for forgiveness from their heavenly Father. Remember how often we miss the mark ourselves. Don’t require your children to live to a higher standard than you expect of yourselves.
Have a blessed day!