There appears to be a growing failure to our efforts to launch our adolescent boys successfully in our current culture. It is a travesty. Guys who should become full grown men, remain adolescents indefinitely—into their 40's—if it ever gets reversed. This passivity is wreaking havoc with our men, and is part of what has been dive-bombing our country.
For example, there is a marked difference between what the American boy is doing at 3 in the afternoon and what some fellows are doing in other countries. Ours, by and large, are fooling around with video games at 3 in the afternoon, fashioning themselves to be rock stars, and/or becoming obsessed with special effects in media, while Israeli boys, for example, are toying with mapping out strategies for the IDF and trekking over the ground they will travel for military service. By this activity they learn the ground's features so well that they will be able to travel it at night to prepare for surprise attacks. And others are being tutored by men at the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, [www1.technion.ac.il/en ] which employs hundreds of Israeli scientists who make contributions on world problems that other countries send their way. They are working on real "man endeavors" in real life, not a surreal life.
Americans are doing something wrong with our boys. Kevin Swanson (former director of the CHEC Colorado homeschool organization and producer of the Generations With Vision broadcast), Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis and author of Already Gone) and others are all seeing this as an alarming trend, too, and are increasingly covering the topic in their workshops and preaching. Instead of immersing our adolescent men in real life adventures, travel, and skill development, our sons are passively absorbing Hollywood's next video and screen obsession, and sitting under women for extra academic drudgeries that don't matter (we must do this underwater basket weaving, or Japanese sushi party, or African tom-toms)—simply to keep up with the Jones’s.
As I've thought about this problem through the years I've come to see that boys need massive amounts of skill development in real life. What they need is for us, as parents, to aggressively get them tutored under men in these real life skills: electronics, mechanics, plumbing, and carpentry—all four. They will need every one of them when the economy crashes. Specialists in these fields will not be easily found because they will be tackling problems elsewhere and there won't be any available, the world will be in such shambles. But young men need a modicum of these skills even to use now in the advancements of their own families, and to further steward their limited money from having to spend it on these specialists. There is no reason why young men can't learn the basics in all of these areas—except laziness and a lack of direction. (Yesterday I heard about a young man who had difficulty with the academic route, but spent a few years in vocational training, got a job right away and is now earning $40,000 as a small-engine mechanic, with no end to the employment possibilities in that field for all of the foreseeable future.)
Parents can even get their boys tutored for a day or two under a sewing machine mechanic and a locksmith, learning how to make keys. Get them to build their own shed; download our free description of how to build a greenhouse and let them go at it (as precursors for building their own house someday in the woods) and hire them to split a hefty stack of firewood. Get them skilled. Add to that more of even smaller skills like weight-lifting, archery, shooting practice, self-defense, climbing practice, hunting practice, map and compass reading and planning of treks, acquiring all of the survival skills contained in any manual, so titled, work through a Boy Scout handbook, and train themselves via YouTube videos on rope tying, etc. With these kinds of tutoring situations, no time will be wasted. Men don't like to talk much; they like to do and to conquer—and they’re usually happy if someone watches.
For the rough times that are ahead we are going to need tough young men. Abraham Lincoln built fences, split logs and ran a general store in the daytime, while studying around the fireplace only at night. He put in a hard day's work of physical labor. This teaches endurance, conquering a practical problem, protecting and providing for women with their brawn in their own homes, etc. If you want to get a wholesome appetite for what hard work will do for your boys, get Pastor S. M. Davis’s marvelous CD called "Work." I've never heard one better on this topic. Look for it on his SolveFamilyProblems website.
Also, have your adolescent boys read Scripture to the family after dinner (only a chapter will do it) and then have them get used to making only one remark about that passage. It is that simple to train our boys to lead spiritually. They currently do not, even as young husbands, because they never practiced it.
Let us as homeschoolers produce a different kind of man. It all begins with a clear vision of where it is that we are headed and why. Dare to be intentional on this one.
For further reading, see our quick reads: Young Men Preparing for Marriage and a Godly Son Checklist. Better yet, get the book for Savvy Teens--it includes those chapters and a whole lot more.