Generation Cedar

They were too loud and fidgety so we drugged them.

They were too rough so we softened them.

They were too given to leading us so we insulted them.

They were too protective so we started opening our own doors.

And still they simply try to be who we need and want them to be.

Men are rare. Real men allowed to be who God made them. And like almost everything in the universe, we, WOMEN, hold the power to shape and change. We are the ones who have so craftily disassembled the real men. And only we can help build them back and raise a new generation of them.

I want to love my boys, but let them be boys.

I expect a lot from them. I tell them they are leaders, even now, in our family, either modeling character, sacrifice and honor before their siblings, or living an example of self-centeredness and foolishness.

I am glad they are rugged, like to pretend to shoot things and play in the dirt. It serves an important purpose and I don’t want to feminize their tendencies, calling it “learned behavior” that needs to be unlearned in order to be better managed.

I want them to give special honor to women, children and the elderly. I want them to live out “my-life-for-yours.”

I want them to have role models like Daniel and Joshua; not Justin Bieber.

I want them to think, even now, about the family they will likely have one day. I want them to be planning, dreaming and making wise decisions now that will find them prepared at the right time.

I want them spending time wisely, preparing in their youth for one woman, not wasting it dabbling in relationships for which they have no business pursuing, wrecking hearts and lives along the way. I want them to pursue purity of mind, body and spirit.

I want them to have vision and I speak to them of such. I want them to have purpose, to connect actions with consequences, to be wise and walk circumspectly. This requires a basic rejection of typical adolescent thinking.

I want them to pursue the Lord young, to thirst after righteousness, and so we raise them to love Him, not as “heathens yet to pray a prayer”, but as children holy and beloved, members of His covenant of grace, and ever pressing toward the mark of the high calling of Christ Jesus.

Let’s. raise. men.

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65 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this. I have six sons and one daughter, and some days I’m just now sure why God has asked me to raise these future men.

    I do have a question, that I’d love your insight on, Kelly. My 5yo son is softer than the others. He loves to pair up with his 3yo sister and play dolls. He has a boy doll that he pretends to be a daddy to. This hasn’t bothered me, so I play along and say that I’m the doll grandma. I don’t know where the line is with this child. I want to encourage him to be a real man, but with the understanding that real men aren’t all macho-types. Do you have any words of wisdom?


    1. My youngest son is a softer type, too, who loves to play with his big sister’s dolls. It does not bother me and I tell him what a good daddy he will be some day. The world needs gentler men as much as it needs strong type A’s. There’s nothing feminizing about a man (or boy) holding a baby. I would allow him to cultivate the gentle spirit God gave him. At the same time, I would still encourage him and train him up in Biblical manhood.

      Where is the line? I have a friend who has no problem letting her so try nailpolish, ritual or makeup. I draw the line there because the Bible draws the line there. My sons are not going to dabble in such feminine pursuits as dressing and acting like a woman.

    2. Bethany,

      As the others have said, certainly “gentleness” is a character trait to be celebrated and fostered, even among our roughest of boys. At the same time simply remember the importance, with any boy, of reminding him of things like “protecting”, putting others first, generally “standing in the gap” for those around him. Regardless of his disposition, his manliness can be confirmed and encouraged by both mother and father πŸ˜‰

      1. I think there’s a big difference between a man who has a more sensitive nature and one who’s feminine. My husband is definitely very masculine, yet he’s a lot more sensitive than I am. My second son is not rough and tumble at all. Not like my older son, but that’s just the way he is. He’d rather play with his sister. And he’s very sensitive and caring. That’s just his nature. He’s also very much an 8 year old boy who’s interested in bodily noises and hates baths and is dying to be pitcher for his Little League team.

  2. Hi Bethany!!

    I wouldn’t worry too much!! My grandson is also 5 and while he likes to play with play guns and shoot everything in site and pick up the dog by its tail, he also likes to play with his little cousin who is 3 and a girl. He will push the little stroller around with her or play tea party. πŸ™‚ The way I look at it is to encourage them to be nurturing which I have no doubt will be a tremendous blessing to their future wives (your son and my grandson) and children. God Bless you and you sound like a wonderful mom!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  3. AMEN! It seemed somedays I’d never catch up to my four-year-old son! He’s always on the go, always dirty, always rowdy. But I began praying aloud with him that God would use him to stand up for the weak and be a warrior for Heaven. He not only loves this, he remembers it in daily situations and it is improving his selfish behavior. This is clearly what God intented for little boys!

  4. Im laughing at this only because I have the opposite problem! I have a 5 year old girl. She has and older brother and an older sister. She prefers to play with her brothers toys, Legos, guns, star wars, knights, etc… Than she does with dolls. I’ve tried to get her to play with them, and she did when she was younger, but not so much anymore. How do I cultivate her roll as a wife and mother when she would prefer to play like a boy!

    And just a note on your gentle son. My husband was raised by his mother and sister, with no father around really until he was a tween. He is the most loving, caring, sensitive man I have ever met. He was so passive that I had to beg him to stand up and lead our family, and as the stronger personality of us, I had to make myself back down and let him lead. It was a long hard road in our marriage because with our personalities, I’m the more aggressive, a type, I tended to try and take charge. I would encourage you to let him be gentle now and draw the line like Kate suggested. As he gets older, encourage him with your husbands guidance to let him make decisions, easy and hard ones, he won’t want too, he will let you decide for him. Don’t let him be passive as he grows up. As the wife, it is so hard to have a man that doesn’t like to make decisions! My husband didnt like to be the bad guy.

    Learning how to be a man when you already are one, is much harder and he struggles daily. I love my gentle husband and a lot of my friends think he is the perfect husband. He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. I hope this encourages you to let him be for now. As he gets older, you husband needs to step up and really take an active roll in teaching him how to be a man. That is what my husband lacked.

    1. Hey, nothing wrong with Legos and Star Wars. Maybe she’ll be a fighter pilot, or a builder. Or raise one.

  5. As a mother with three daughters, that I’m trying with the help of the Lord to raise as Godly women, I thank you. All of the women that dare to raise Godly men…You have my prayers.

  6. I thank God every day for allowing me to marry my husband…a rugged MAN. We now have 2 boys ages 2.5 and 8 months. If there’s a question as to what/if they should be playing with something “girly” I ask my husband. If he says no then I don’t let them do it. I figure he can make the call in those cases. πŸ™‚

    Great post Kelly!

  7. Great thoughts, Kelly! I am thankful to have two boys who act like boys! Much work to be done in their lives but, there is always work to be done in my life! I am thankful that I have friends who are striving to raise their boys to be godly men.

  8. I really appreciate this! As an older sister to three brothers, sometimes I tend to think “do they have to shoot everything???!!!” It’s hard for me to remember the fact that they’ll grow up to be better men, being more “boyish” now. πŸ™‚ I can’t stand effeminate men, so the more boyish now, the better!

    As far as a girl being a tomboy when she’s young…well, that was me! My next youngest brother is 3 years younger than I, and we always did everything together when we were little. The kids in my church growing up were all boys, and I’d much rather play outside with them, at the time. Being bigger and stronger than my brother (up to a point) I was also my dad’s right hand man for a while (doing construction and such.) I enjoyed it…and I really believe that was a good way to grow up, because I feel capable enough to be a help to the guys in my life. My brother and I did play house outside a lot of times, so it wasn’t all shoot-em-up cowboys and Indians! I never was one to play dolls much, but my other brothers were born when I was 9 and 12, and I was practically a second mother to them. By the time I was 14 or 15, I had no interest in playing with the guys outside, and enjoyed the female company inside. Sometime around this time, my brother was also helping my dad more and my role slowly switched to nearly all inside work…housekeeping, cooking, and such.

    Now I’m 23 and I’m all girl…my mom says I can run a house better than she can. I’m also able to help my dad whenever I need to, and I’m looking forward to being able to help my boyfriend fix up the house he just bought for us! I think there is great value in girls being capable enough to help the guys when needed, but also be brought up able to keep a house. πŸ™‚

    Oh…and my brother who would play house with me is now nearly 20 and has been a blacksmith for several years. He’s a man’s man who owns his own blacksmith company and is becoming well-known for his work. So, it all evens out!

    1. I just reread your comment and totally missed the first portion the first time I read it. I understand not liking men who are effeminate, but not all men are like that, and my husband is NOT effeminate. He never played with dolls, but that doesn’t mean it’s not okay for a time. As a mother, it’s very hard to see your son playing with dolls and we aren’t exactly sure what to do about it, and sometimes, Dads just get freaked out by it. My husband is just passive and quiet and is the opposite of ‘rugged’. He doesn’t fish or hunt or build things. He’s more into cars and electronics. This is how God made him. We are all different and we all have different likes and dislikes in what we think makes a good spouse. You like a guy that is a Mans Man. I don’t. Does that make either of us wrong? No. Just different.

      And just as you were a tomboy as a girl and are now more feminine, boys can change just the same. As you said, your mom started teaching you to take care of a household, a dad can teach a son how to be a man when he’s ready to learn.

      My husband struggles daily to make sure that our 14 year old son, who has no common sense, learns how to change the light bulbs, mow the lawn, fix things that are broken. He had to learn them himself so he never thought ‘oh i need to be teaching/training him to do these things’ until recently. My son is eating it up! My son is not a ‘mans man’ either. But because he got genes from both of us, he’s different than my husband and my husband sometimes just shakes his head and marvels at the differences in them.

      *and your tomboy comments really do give me peace of mind, that she won’t stay this way forever! πŸ™‚ When she gets to be a teenager, her older siblings will most likely be out of the house already.

  9. Oh, I’m sorry! I totally did NOT mean to sound like I was demeaning your husband or son! That wasn’t my intention at all! I think it’s amazing and wonderful how different women prefer different kinds of men and we all fit together like puzzle pieces! What a boring world if it were otherwise!

    Again, please accept my apology! πŸ™‚

  10. I think that we need to raise *people* (boys and girls) who are free to pursue a variety of different passions. I do not think that a little boy who plays with dolls is less likely to be a Christ-loving man than a little boy who plays with trucks, though. That seems to be the implication of some of these comments, which is unfortunate. Also, I definitely do not understand why a mom would encourage playing with guns. Violence is real, and easy to glamorize in our culture. In other cultures, little kids are given guns and forced to kill–I doubt their mothers encourage or are happy to see them pretending to engage in gun play.

    I respect your desire to raise children that love the Lord, but why would it be better for little boys to be rough and tumble as opposed to sensitive and gentle? I sure love my gentle, considerate husband a whole lot. πŸ™‚

    1. Rachel–you seemed to have missed a WHOLE lot of my points in the post. First, there was never an insinuation that it is “better for boys to be rough and tumble” as opposed to gentle. What I said was that I refuse to “punish” them for that rough and tumble, the way often they are by the confines of an “in-the-box” society. Be very careful when commenting to not misconstrue obvious points. I think I also made the point clear that men are most definitely supposed to be “gentle and tender” in that they are to be taught to live “my life for yours”. I can’t imagine anything more tender than that. Overall, the point is that a common tendency to feminize boys and downplay their natural ruggedness should not be.

      1. Thanks for your response, Word Warrior. I was responding more to things I’d seen in the comments, about parents prohibiting their boys from playing with things described as “girly”. I thought that was a little unnecessary, and am glad to see your clarification that you don’t feel that way.

        1. My oldest boy has an arsenal of toy guns, but we have firm rules. They are to be treated like real guns. He can only shoot at targets, dinosaurs and monsters. He cannot shoot his siblings, even with a finger saying “bang.”. He is to protect them. He only “plays” with them under supervision. Violent scenarios are not allowed. Daddy will be training daughter in archery soon. Protection, responsibility, and proper use is what we teach, NOT violence. I find it disturbing to see a little boy running around “shooting” people.

          1. What a wonderful rule! My oldest boy is almost 4 and is all about guns but I do not like them and have been unclear on how to handle the issue. I want my children to respect weapon and not see them as play things. Thank you for this idea. I may try it in my home. Up until now my son has only been allowed to shoot “freeze rays” from his gun LOL

          2. I want to tell you raising boys like this made a difference for us when it counted. A few weeks ago my daughter got her first cleaning job. She is 10. Her brother, 15, had treated her with snacks from his summer job. She was going to return the favor. They walked to a corner store. Then this sweet scene turned really bad.

            In a terrible mess, the store owner accused my son of shoplifting! When he said he was calling the police my daughter started to cry. Her brother said “You go home. It will be OK.” Then it got really crazy! The owner said she could not leave! My 15 year old said “She is going home. I am opening the door for her.” and moved to do so. The owner, shorter than my strapping son, blocked the way and pushed my son back knocking him in the throat. My son immobilized the man and put him on the ground and told his sister to leave. It took some coaxing but she did. He then let the man up, never throwing a punch.

            The man was thoroughly embarrassed and called the police making a worse false report !!! Thankfully, our police arrived and set the owner straight. They even assured my son they would go check on my daughter if need be. She returned in a moment with a helpful neighbor and my husband and I were soon on the scene too.

            I am so proud of my son protecting his sister and having the self-control to subdue the situation but not go for revenge. We raised him in the same way you are describing here. We added to the rule of don’t point a play gun at anyone who is not playing with you: If the person thinks you are pointing it at them, you are not being careful enough!

            Interestingly, I have an artistic son as well who seems less rough. I had concerns like those expressed here about his gentle side. When pressed into service by a neighbor girl who had no brother he chased off a bully at 8 years old! : )

            We are not brawlers or anything. These boys have never seen their Dad or any man in our family ever have to lay a hand on anyone, but my husband is in security and is often called upon to protect. They follow suit.

          3. It really shocked us. It turns out this store owner has been stolen from many times by young people and does not like children to shop without adults. I don’t know if it is legal for him to put up a sign saying only shoppers over 18 allowed. It would have avoided a mess that I would have liked to live without even if I am proud of my children’s response.

    2. I take issue w/your assessment of guns, Rachel…although I don’t want to veer off course, since this is Kelly’s blog. I have no idea how many kids you have, or what gender they are, but boys will “make” guns of just about anything. I’ve seen boys take dolls, and pretend to use their legs as the barrel of the gun. I don’t believe this is “learned” behavior, BTW. I really do grow weary of the violence argument. One can use nearly anything for a weapon…things like overbaked cookies come to mind. : )

      1. I agree, Cathy. My boys are shooting pony tail holders as soon as they are coordinated enough. We didn’t teach them that and I’m not going to pretend as if it is abnormal. Responsibility and appropriate usage, like everything else, must be taught to accompany their bents and tendencies.

  11. This post caught my attention in another mom’s FB share. My son was born with what we call “an extra dose of boy.” He is fast and busy. He is also smart and inquisitive. He is phenomenal at any sport and he also will sit and play tea party with his 3 yo sister. I pray constantly that I am raising him up to be a leader of his home and an amazing husband one day. I see the depth in your post about the future of our country and the need to be allowing boys to just be boys so that they can develop into leaders, husbands and fathers and I wholeheartedly agree.

  12. I have four boys. They are mostly war, shoot, wrestle, and hunt type of boys. However, my two oldest are very gentle and compassionate around children smaller than themselves and love babies. And as to encouraging guns?? well, I can take away the toy guns, but i can’t take off their thumb and forefinger! Besides, protecting the family is something men are supposed to do. Not that we need boys who are bullies. But men who know how and when to protect the ones in their care is a good thing. and in some periods in history, guns provided meat for the table. So as we encourage bravery, virtuous living, and courage, we try to temper that with discernemnt and self-discipline.

  13. Rachel S.

    Violence is very real in society, but it has nothing to do with boys and guns. It is a condition of the heart. Boys playing with guns does not mean they will grow up to be violent. Most boys who have grown up around guns with fathers and grandfathers teaching them, know the damage they can do. They know what they are used for (hunting and protection) and what they are not (violence against others).

    Oh and Laura, we still use guns now to put meat on the table! Every year my husband hunts enough deer and pheasant to give us meat all year! It is a real money saver!

  14. Very good post, Kelly. I’m reading “Raising Real Men” by Hal and Melanie Young right now, and your post makes many of the same (excellent) points their book does, and from a Christian perspective, as well.

    BTW, your son is looking so grown up! Not just older, but also very thoughtful and reflective. A very fitting picture to include with this post πŸ˜‰

  15. When my two oldest sons were little (they are now 25 and 23)they used to sit with a dolly and nurse it while I nursed my babies.I didn’t teach them this,they just did it and let me add only for a short while…lol.They were just being loving and compassionate.Now let me tell you.. they are so grown up and manly! They open doors for woman and stand up in the room if there are not enough chairs.They know how to treat young ladies! Only one is available now…rofl.My 23 yr.old has been courting(they call it that)a young lady and will probably be married within a year..sigh..They met at church and she is a wonderful young woman and we love her.It is amazing to see how the Lord works in their lives as they get older and how they grow up to become MEN!! I also would not allow my two oldest sons to have toy guns or BB guns when they were little.They would make them out of bananas..I’m not kidding!!My three youngest have every kind of bb gun and air soft gun.We live in the country and the older ones tease me now about it.You live and learn!! One of the things I still do when I go to the store with any of my guys is allow them to open the door for me.My 16 yr.old and 13 yr.old even like to do this.Don’t you all worry about the doll thing when they are little.They will be men as they grow up!! Just my 2 cents..

    1. My oldest son use to breastfeed his “baby” along side me when I would breastfeed my youngest. I would always smile and say that some day he is going to be an excellent support to his future wife when she cares for their future children.

  16. Thank you so much for this article. I am a young man, 29 years old raising a 5 year old daughter. Growing up in my generation young women wanted a femine man who had not the MAN that my father and mother taught me to be. For this reason my life has been a tumultuous series of train wreck relationships. Each woman did not understand the role of a man and husband. God graced me with a father of iron will and gentle patience and understanding. My mother was a wise and loving woman who taught me the gentleness that makes me able to be a father to a girl. I have recently become involved with a single mom with a son and daughter. The father does not teach nor participate in the teaching of these two precious children. The mother, bless her soul, has been unused to the presence and love of a true man. I am so hurt seeing the pain in her eyes from having to keep from running away from me, so used as she is to the lack of a true man in her life. I call to the menmen and women of today ……bring back a man in our boys to lead their houses and families.

  17. I was more passive growing up. I found out I have a natural born temperament called ‘sensory processing sensitivity’. This is found in animals in the same ratio as humans. It’s not just emotional sensitivity. We are more perceptive, introspective, and (frankly) we tend to be smarter. I still liked learning to fight, shoot guns, and do manly stuff. In retrospect I could have benefited from being pushed into a couple more years of little league or football, though. But I don’t think that was all there was to it. I was afraid to be around other males, and felt more feminine than my brothers, though I didn’t want to be. Lo and behold, I recovered memories of being raped. Have a nice day!

  18. While I wish I’d had more encouragement and had someone patiently mentor me to be more manly, I did not benefit from having pastors and youth leaders make jokes insinuating I must be gay, due to insecurity about feeling more feminine. As I say, this was a direct result of having been raped as a toddler. Just because memories of something like that get repressed does NOT mean it doesn’t affect you. I innately remembered what had happened to me, kind of like how you might have a disturbing nightmare involving a friend or family member, and that dream (as dreams are want to do) fades from your memory 30 minutes after waking if you don’t write it down, yet the impression it leaves you with endures and you avoid the person you saw in the dream, and feel funny about it the rest of the day (and don’t really stop to think why). Incidentally, I first started to become cognizant of what had happened to me after having yet another nightmare about it for the thousandth time, but for some reason I caught it out of the corner of my mind and realized why I was avoiding people. Then came the flashbacks. Watch your kids, folks- especially you, dads. Learn the signs of abuse, and don’t just assume your sons are being disobedient- especially don’t ridicule them. That didn’t help me.

    1. Thomas,

      I am so sorry about what happened to you and am glad you are able to work through it now. What you say–“Watch your kids, folks- especially you, dads.” I cannot emphasize enough. I think far more children undergo something adverse than most people realize. And yes, it can have lasting, detrimental effects. One more reason to keep them close πŸ˜‰

  19. What about raising a son as a single parent? My son so much want a father, and I can’t give him one. Can’t be one either. I am still married to my son’s father but he doesn’t want to be a husband or father — ditched his responsibilties and run away (literally). Leaving my son (and all my children) to feel very insecure. Only way I can help him is remainding him of his Father in Heaven. The best Father one could ever have…

    1. I am sorry you are left with the responsibility of being the soul parent in your family. I can not imagine it is easy. You are very right that the heavenly Father is the best father a kid could ever have. But what about an uncle, grandfather, or even a “big brother” or boy scouts to be an earthly mentor to your son? Just because his father is not present does not mean that there is not another strong Christan male in your circle that could provide the guidance that a young man needs.

    2. Magriet,

      I second what Nikki suggested…boy scouts, in particular, can be a wonderful place for your son to be encouraged and mentored to be a man. Also, I would make it my highest priority to find a church that understands and practices “a father to the fatherless”. That is what the body is for. I pray you find this comfort.

      1. Thanks for your kind words. Yes, he did have a ‘mentor’ friend ( a young man from our church), but just when we expected it the least, his friend took a wrong turn and he was dissapointed in him too. But I pray to God and I believe He will provide the answer in His own time (not ours).

  20. Love this! My eyes have recently been opened to what a man hating world we are raising our boys in. It is very distressing. But by allowing our boys to be boys at home hopefully it will give them the courage to go against the cultural norm and be real mean out in the world. Thank you for the encouragement!

  21. Thank you, thank you for your post. I really struggle in knowing how to bring up my 3 sons. Especially as I hate all things agressive, yet my eldest loves guns, and swords, and anything else that can inflict damage! Part of me wants to let him explore that part of himself, but yet, he also tends to be vengeful – or very black and white, like if someone does something that is not what God wants or what He thinks God wants, his solution would be to go in all guns blazing – and THAT I definitely don’t want to encourage. (Rather I would have him be loving & merciful. Not compromising, but seeing the person as a purchase of Christ.) He is also obsessed with having a girlfriend, though is quite sure he doesn’t particularly want to get married or have a family. Did I say, he is 6? I find it hard to find a balance. To allow him (and his brothers) to be the boys they were created to be, yet not to allow them to indulge in the human nature they were born with. I appreciate your time in sharing & encouragement. God bless. xx

  22. I am the mom of 3 boys & am so thankful that although my husband was raised with no father in the home – he is an excellent one. He was also raised with 3 older sisters, and so is pretty sensitive as far as interacting with women. At the same time – he is a fisherman (by trade) and a hunter and a rugged outdoorsman who is thrilled to share those things with his sons. I am grateful and I’m honored to raise boys who will honor our God. TY – great article!

  23. Thank you for writing this post! We were just blessed with our first boy (after having 9 daughters!) and I am gobbling up all I can about raising boys since I have absolutely no experience. I know he is only 3 months old, but it’s never to early to start learning.

  24. AMEN! Boys need to be boys.

    My oldest is almost 22 and when he was around 5 years old a “new” idea came out to parents, instructing parents to have their boys play with baby dolls in order for the boys to learn to be loving and gentle and good fathers. So, being a young and naΓ―ve mother, I went straight out and bought my son a baby doll and brought it home and put it in front of him to play with. A few hours later, I heard him rough housing up stairs and I went to look in on him and he was jumping up and down on his bad pretending to be a cowboy with two home made pistols in each hand. Much to my horror, the baby doll was laying on the ground face down with it’s arms missing and the baby arms being held in my son’s hands shooting everything in sight. In a moment of terror I called my mother frantically telling her that my son was going to grow up to be a horrible, possibly potentially dangerous father. After a few minutes of my ramblings my mother finally spoke and told me that the baby doll idea was the dumbest idea she had ever heard of. She told me, boys will be boys and let my son be a boy. I took her advice and my son is in college now and a very nice young man who loves the Lord.

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