Raising Boys 101

by Barry Newton

As my oldest son climbed out of our Saturn to enter his middle school in the crisp early morning, my eyes drifted upward to the rearview mirror where I saw a black SUV parking some thirty yards behind me. Strung out behind that car was a long line of vehicles waiting to drop off their kids.

Because of what the driver of that black SUV did next, immediately my perception of his actions caused me to reflect upon the words of a non-Christian visitor on the previous Sunday night. “I want to have a son like that.”

The visitor’s sentiment was sparked by my younger elementary-aged son politely asking permission to do something. After receiving some instructions, from his lean frame the sounds of “OK dad” entered the stream of public chatter.

Did this non-Christian understand that what she had witnessed was more than merely a result, but also a teaching moment as well? If there are secrets to raising kids, certainly one of the most important is that they are continually learning values, relationship tools, behavior and perspectives constantly from their caregivers’ expressed words, actions, and attitudes.

This brings me back to the black SUV. On this chilly morning no school attendants were standing outside in their customary locations to wave us to the foremost drop off point on the curb. Of course, the foremost drop off spot is inconvenient for the student, because the student must walk further to the front door. Nevertheless, being the first car in my string of cars to advance, I deliberately chose to drive past the prime location directly in front of the school door toward that forward chilly outpost. The action was deliberate. Life is not all about us. We serve greater purposes than self-centeredness. Here was another wonderful opportunity to illustrate this lesson one more time to my oldest son.

Call me nit picky if you want, but on this fall morning the dad in the black SUV chose poorly by teaching his son, “do whatever is best for you.” I do not doubt that perhaps in his mind he believed he was exemplifying love by providing his son with the most convenient drop off location possible. But how loving is it to teach our children self-centeredness? How well does “do whatever is best for you” conform to the image of serving a Messiah nailed to a cross?

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