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Lessons from the 1940s – Let Boys Be Boys

US Navy recruitment poster, 1944

US Navy recruitment poster, 1944

My two sons’ favorite TV show is “Mythbusters.” Why do they like it? The scientific investigation of urban legends? Sure. The quirky characters and offbeat humor? Yep. But the primary reason…”They blow things up!”

I don’t get this. I’m a girl. Explosions don’t appeal to me, and all I can think about is those poor people on the other boat. This poster does nothing for me. But my boys…oh yeah! It speaks their language.

Look at the messages of this poster: If you join the submarine service, you’ll:
1) See action! Now!
2) You can be a hero in perilous situations.
3) You can blow things up!

Nowadays, our culture fears anything like this. It breeds violence. It isn’t sensitive. It’s too…masculine.

But we can’t change the basic nature of men – nor should we. When the masculine interest in action and danger isn’t properly directed, men have committed the worst horrors against humanity in history. But men directed by morals and virtue perform acts of heroism, bravery, and chivalry. These are the men who entered the Twin Towers and rescued countless people from death. These are the men who defended our country not only in World War II, but in many other wars.

As a mother, my job isn’t to quench my sons’ interest in action and danger and explosions – as if I could. After all, when my youngest was a toddler, he took a bite out of a slice of American cheese, pointed the L-shaped remnant at his sister, and said, “Bang!” Rather, my job is to teach them the compassion, integrity, and faith to train those masculine energies for honorable purposes.

How can you let your boy be a boy – without blowing up the neighborhood?

5 responses to “Lessons from the 1940s – Let Boys Be Boys”

  1. When my son was about 3, he did a similar thing. He took a sandwich and ate a portion, then took the remainder, pointed it, and called it a “shoot gun.” I was beyond upset…I had fallen prey to the mindset so prevalent in today’s society…mainly, to so effeminize our men that they are incapable of having the kind of courage and bravery that characterized men of previous generations.

    Thankfully, I began to understand that God created men DIFFERENT from women…and I don’t just mean physically. Men and women are SUPPOSED to be different at their very core. Men will conquer and defend…as they’ve done for centuries. So, I backed off on my “all guns are bad, just sit around and read a book and play quietly” mindset. I had to let him be a boy, and now, at age 18, his desire is to be a police officer, especially the SWAT team. And that is a noble and high calling.

    Unfortunately, our society wants to get the masculine out of our boys, so we’re fighting an uphill battle.

    Thanks for sharing,

  2. Karen Lange says:

    I had to chuckle at this, and agree as well, having raised two sons and and a daughter. It was interesting to observe how my daughter would more easily pick up the boys’ interests than vice versa.

    And yes, what it is with men and fire? Among the reasons my husband is glad we moved to KY is b/c they allow open burning (as opposed to in NJ where we used to live).


  3. Alexandra says:

    I loved this one. There’s six boys in our house, and my parents have always encouraged their masculine side…they spent hours every day in fatigues, played guns and watched war films…and they’re all passionate about their country now and protecting their freedoms. And no, none of them are “violent” from their exposure to guns at an early age.

    I agree, the battle for masculinity is an uphill battle…but one we have to fight! We need real men now more than ever!

  4. Sarah Sundin says:

    I was like Patti! I bought into the psychodrivel I learned in college – it was only socialization that made men like war stuff. It took only a few months with a son to change my mind 🙂 I offered him my old dolls – he thought it was cool how the legs and eyes moved, he made them the engineers in the block trains he built, and he never “nurtured” them. The doll bed? It had wheels! It made a really cool vehicle! He is now a black belt in karate about to start college majoring in mechanical engineering. He’s kind and compassionate and all man. As he should be. Good for you ladies for letting the boys be boys – and for Alexandra’s parents 🙂
    Karen – that cracks me up. My husband’s deepest sorrow is that our house has a (gasp!) gas fireplace.

  5. Carma Dutra says:

    You are just too funny. Boys are boys until they die. As they grow up it is the well balanced ones that are able to hide it better. LOL.

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