Equipping Your Sons for Battle
About the Guest
Would your son know what do to if he was propositioned by a member of the opposite sex? What about a member of the same sex? Dennis Rainey, author of numerous books including Parenting Today's Adolescent and Interviewing Your Daughter's Date, speaks frankly to parents about equipping sons to handle aggressive girls.
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
Would your son know what do to if he was propositioned by a member of the opposite sex?
Equipping Your Sons for Battle
Bob: They've got that blond surfer look and—
Dennis: They're homeschooled. They've got great character. They're doing well.
Bob: But there are girls, all over the beach, who want their names, and their phone numbers, and their Facebook® because they think those boys are pretty cute.
Dennis: Yes. In fact, it was—that was one of the families that contacted me, after I finished writing my book, Interviewing Your Daughter's Date, and said, "Hey, this is real good for interviewing our daughter's date; but what about our sons? There are some girls who are pretty aggressive toward our sons, and we'd like some help on that matter."
In fact, I ran across an article on the website, Christiansinglestoday.com—not associated with FamilyLife Today—but nonetheless, I want to attribute this appropriately. Jason Illian wrote this article, that is subtitled, “Vultures, Wolves, Christian Women and Other Aggressive Animals”. The name of the article is "Let us Prey"—P-r-e-y.
He writes, "Not long ago, I went dancing with some buddies of mine. As I was tearing up the dance floor with moves discarded from an old Michael Jackson video, I noticed my dance partner smiling at me. We had just met that night; but after chatting about church and our mutual love for writing, I figured she'd be a fun and relatively safe date for the evening.
“As we were dancing, she smiled and tried to tell me something. Of course, the bass was so loud that my intestines were rattling, and it was impossible to hear her. As I bent down to hear what she was saying, she lunged and latched onto my lips like a malfunctioning Hoover®.
“Shocked and a little scared, I pulled away and stumbled off the dance floor like a newborn giraffe. One of my friends, who had been watching from a distance, asked what happened. After explaining the Twilight Zone experience with Leech Woman, he asked why I didn't pull away quicker. I responded, 'Because she had my lower lip between her teeth.'" (Laughter)
Bob: That kind of sets the tone for what you want to talk about today; doesn't it?
Dennis: Well, let's move it from the humorous down to where most of our listeners are living. In fact, Cynthia wrote us a number of months ago. She said, "Hello, gentlemen. After listening to your Interviewing Your Daughter's Date program today, I am wondering if you have been on a high school or junior high campus recently.
“While I agree with your points today, I have a seventh-grade son. Let me tell you that the girls are relentless. Please address this issue. What was true of dating years ago is definitely no longer true. Thank you for your broadcast. I do enjoy and learn from them. Sincerely, Cynthia."
Bob: Here is what's interesting about Cynthia's situation. Her son is in seventh grade. She's keeping tabs of things right now; but there is coming a day when her son won't be in the seventh grade and when she won't have as tight a rein on him. She's—
Dennis: No. doubt. That's what she's saying, though, Bob. “How do I equip my 13-, 14-year-old son to be able to not just survive—but thrive as he moves through the adolescent years?”
Bob: So is there a way to do this with a 13-, 14-year-old so that when these girls come and flirt, and bat their eyes, and come on "like a malfunctioning Hoover," that the boy knows what to do?
Dennis: Yes. Let me just give you some of the practical aspects of a plan to equip your sons as they move through the adolescent years.
First of all, I would engage in these conversations with your son at an early age. You need to be building their character through the elementary years; but when they turn 10, 11, 12—those years are what I call, "The last of the golden years." They provide an opportunity to drive a truckload of truth about character development, and choices, and wisdom into your son's life to prepare him for what he is going to face.
One of the most practical ways we've created, here at FamilyLife, is Passport to Purity®. I've got a file, Bob, that's about an inch thick of letters from young men who have been through Passport to Purity with their dads. Not only do they find out about the birds and the bees, or maybe hear the story reinforced over the weekend, but they also are aided by a discussion with their father about how far they are going to go with the opposite sex.
Passport to Purity and a related book that you can also purchase, called So You're About to be a Teenager, help create a vocabulary—a common vocabulary—in a language for a father and a son so that they can carry on this conversation about how they are relating to the opposite sex, all the way through the adolescent years.
Bob: And that's important. You don't just have your weekend, or have them read this book, and say, "Whew, done with that. Don't need to talk about it anymore;" right?
Dennis: Yes, exactly, Bob. In fact, what will happen is you'll be able to have these discussions with them, during this age period; but they're going to stop talking about it. In fact, they're going to want you to stop talking about it. As a dad, you can't afford to ignore it. You have to enter into the issue and engage with them, I think, all the way through the adolescent years, on into college, and beyond into adulthood.
Bob: Okay, so you start having the conversation early. You keep on having it. Is that going to take care of it?
Dennis: No. In fact, there is one other little parenthesis that is going to seem a bit odd here. When your son moves through adolescence and perhaps has a job in a public place—not only do you have to train him to withstand temptations from the opposite sex—but, you know—it's an interesting day in which we are alive. You need to be training your sons to know what to do if a guy of the same sex makes a play for your son. Somehow, have a dialog with your son so that you can talk about that.
Here, again, is where, as followers of Christ, we need to give our sons a healthy perspective of real manhood, but also a respect for the dignity of the other person, regardless of the lifestyle they have chosen. On FamilyLife Today, we don't think the lifestyle of homosexuality is appropriate. In fact, we think the Bible is clear in teaching against that just like it teaches against adultery. Perhaps, you may be a light to help bring them out of that darkness.
A second thing that every father and mother needs to do together is they need to know where the dangers are as your son is moving into adolescence. Then, clearly set your own family's boundaries for how you are going to handle those dangers; for instance, cell phones. Are you just going to give unlimited minutes to your son? Are you going to check where the phone calls are coming from ever? Do you feel like you have the right to check that—to see the numbers he is calling, the numbers that are calling him? I think those are all within the rights of a parent to be able to inspect with their son or, for that matter, their daughter—to know what's going on there.
Another one is being alone with the opposite sex. You have to decide at what point are you willing to allow your son to be alone in a car, be alone taking a walk, be alone at another party, be alone at a party at somebody else's house. You could just keep on going down the line. You have to decide. You know? What's important is not what I believe, but what do you believe? Where are you going to draw the lines to protect your son?
Facebook®--how much time are you going to allow your son to spend on that? Are you going to be on Facebook? I've talked to parents who have gotten on Facebook. They have been surprised at what young ladies are sharing about themselves on Facebook.
Frankly, Bob, they've shared it with me. I thought there were filters in these social networking locations that prevented words like that from being used on a teenager's Facebook page, but you know what? It's not there.
Bob: Yes, we've talked to a lot of parents. Our counsel is that, “If your kids are going to have a Facebook site, you need to have access to it. You need to have their password.” If you're going to say, "Okay, you can use your computer, and you can sleep here, and you can eat our food, but we've got your Facebook password, or you're not on Facebook."
Dennis: That's right. I'm going to touch on another thing that's pretty controversial—that's spying on your kids. There are some parents who think it's wrong. I know some parents who have software on their computer, and on their children's computer, that gives a snapshot of where their sons are going as they surf the Web, who they're talking to, what they're talking about, what the conversations are.
Bob: You know some parents like that; huh?
Dennis: I do know some parents. You have a smile on your face.
Bob: And, “Our kids know that that's on our computer, and that's okay. They understand that that's part of the safeguard for all of us.”
Dennis: Has that been helpful, as you've raised your sons—
Bob: Oh, absolutely.
Dennis: —through adolescence, especially in this area with young ladies?
Bob: I'll tell you what has been interesting is—that even though they know, they don't always remember that that's there.
Dennis: That's the key, Bob. I almost said it a while ago. Tell them that you've got it, and they'll forget it.
Bob: They sure will. They get caught up in the moment and just think, “Nobody's paying any attention. It's just us.”
Dennis: —and, “You would never look.”
Bob: Yes, “I'm sorry”—
Dennis: Yes, “Dad's busy. He doesn't have time to look.” Well, I know some very busy dads who are—
Bob: We find time for this kind of thing.
Dennis: We do. It can keep your son or, for that matter, your daughter out of a very, very deep ditch. A couple of other boundaries—Are you going to allow your girls to call guys? Are you going to allow your son, when he's 13- or 14-years-old, maybe in the eighth grade, to receive a bunch of phone calls from girls?
When one of our sons was that age, all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, it was like he posted his phone number on a bulletin board at school. Now, today, we've got the internet. These kids are indiscriminate about how they share their phone numbers, sometimes in that situation, and with cell phones. I mean, all of a sudden, the phone was ringing off the hook every evening. It wasn't one girl. There were like a dozen girls calling our son.
Bob: You can sit down with your son—you can say, "Son, look, there's a difference between a girl who calls and says, ‘I forgot what the homework assignment is. Can you tell me what page it's on?' You say, ‘Yes, it's on
page 37. We're supposed to read 37 to 40.’ If that's the end of the conversation, no harm; no foul. We don't consider that to be a problem.” But some girls will forget what page the homework assignment is on and, rather than calling a girlfriend to ask, they call your son to ask—
Dennis: Who just happens to be a hunk.
Bob: And once they've got that information, they also say, "Oh, by the way, did you"—All of a sudden, they're into the rest of the conversation. You can help your son recognize the difference between an information phone call and a relational phone call. It's those relational phone calls that they need to say, "Got to go; bye."
Dennis: Yup, and you need to do that. A parent needs to exercise both his and her authority to step into your son's life, at that point. In my situation, with our son, I answered the phone after about a week of this. I said, “You know, our son is here; but I really think it’s inappropriate for girls to keep on calling our son without a purpose.” I said, “I really like you—think you’re a great young lady—and just wanted you to know that.” It was like I put that out on the newswire and broadcast it because it instantly shut down the network.
Bob: You thought you’d lost phone service at the house; didn’t you? All of a sudden, everything is quiet, once again.
Dennis: No doubt about it.
Bob: I want to ask you about that because one of the things I’ve been wondering, when you wrote the book, Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date, you encouraged dads to sit down and have a very candid, heart-to-heart conversation, man-to-man, with a young man who is thinking about taking your daughter out on a date. Well, what about aggressive girls who are pursuing your sons? Would you encourage a dad or a mom to sit down with a young woman, across the table, heart-to-heart, and have that same kind of conversation?
Dennis: I have received emails from some of our listeners who have done that. You know what? My hat goes off to them that they have found the delicate balance of how a little meeting like that may be appropriate. For me, I was never able emotionally, spiritually, morally. Somehow, it didn’t feel like it was my responsibility to meet with another father’s daughter.
I think what I would do before I had the conversation, if there was a girl who was really being aggressive, is I think I would have Barbara call the other young lady’s mother, or I would call the father and have a conversation. Now, in some of these situations, there may not be a father to call; and it may be totally inappropriate. But I have made some phone calls to some young men who have been inappropriately relating to my daughter. So, I think there might be a situation when that would be both appropriate and right.
Bob: And you did pick up the phone and have just a brief conversation with some of these girls, when they were pursuing your sons.
Dennis: Just one. That was all it took.
Bob: That was all it took.
Dennis: That was all it took. I want to move on to another important area—that's training your son to know what to watch out for. First of all—immodest dress—help your son, and maybe talk with your son, about what immodest dress is. Ask him if he knows what it is, and you know that he knows; but I'd have it father-to-son about that.
I'd also talk to him about the words young ladies use, and flirting, and how he is to respond to flirting, because for a lot of younger men, under the age of, say, 15, they don't know what to do with this. You train them in what to do with it—“How do you absorb it?” Then, “How do you steer around it, and move another direction, and steer clear of a girl who really is coming after you?”
Bob: Can I say something about that because I remember being in the ninth grade. There was a girl in the ninth grade, who had kind of a crush on me. Honestly, I didn't like her that much; but I liked her having a crush on me. You know what I mean?
Bob: And there were times when she would maybe be flirting with me. I would think, "This is kind of annoying." Then, there would be times when she wasn't flirting with me. I started thinking, "I wonder why she's not flirting with me?" I mean, I remember thinking I didn't want her to flirt; but then when she wasn't—
Dennis: You kind of liked it.
Bob: I wanted it again, and so I'd start to move a little closer. She'd flirt a little, then I'd pull back away. We were doing this dance for quite a while; and I found myself right where a lot of young men are—going, "I can spot this; but I've got to be honest, I kind of like it."
Dennis: One of the things, Bob, that surprised me about this subject—I had a number of moms call me and tell me that it seems like there is a trend from older young ladies to go after, or play, or flirt with younger boys—like a 16-year-old, 17-year-old girl flirting with a 13- or 14-year-old young man.
There's the heady stuff for a young man of having an older woman, an older girl, who he may go to school with, who is paying him attention—like you're talking about. You have to help a young man process through those feelings, like you expressed. “What do you do with them, son?”—how you turn away from them, and how you avoid the snare, and the uncomfortable nature of this relationship.
Bob: And in junior high and high school—if a girl, who is a couple of years older, a couple of classes ahead of you, starts to pay attention to you, again, you kind of feel like, "I must be really mature for her to pay attention to me."
Dennis: Right. Another thing that you need to tell your son to watch out for is a girl's touch. If you read Proverbs 5, 6, and 7—at a key place in there, it talks about how she uses touch to lure the young man into her bedroom. For a teenage boy, to be touched by a girl, can be electrifying. He just needs to understand what's taking place in his body—how it works, and what that is all about; but that, again, Second Timothy 2:22—he needs to flee youthful lusts.
Then one last thing about what to watch out for is the two kinds of kisses. In Proverbs 7, I believe it's the adulteress woman who—the picture is she grabs the young man by his face—she has both of her hands up, and she grabs his face. It says, “She brazenly kisses him.” Well, that's not a peck on the cheek. It is a passionate kiss that demands a sexual response.
A young boy needs to be taught there are two kinds of kisses—the kiss of a mother and a father—that’s one—and then, the kiss of a young lady. Kiss number one, which is a non-passionate kiss, can quickly move to kiss number two—a passionate kiss—in a hurry.
Bob: And of the two kinds of kisses that a young woman might offer, just tell your son to prefer neither; right?
Dennis: That's what Spurgeon said of the two evils—
Bob: Choose neither.
Dennis: Choose neither. You know, what we've been talking about, though, here, Bob, is really the noble adventure of being a parent. In preparing for these broadcasts, one of the things that occurred to me, in the process of raising two sons and four daughters, is my sons were party to a lot of conversations, at the dinner table, after I had interviewed a young man, either after school that day or the night before.
We'd sit around and de-brief at the dinner table. They would hear these conversations about me talking to young men about treating a woman with nobility, and dignity, and keeping their hands off of them—everything I talk about in the book, Interviewing Your Daughter's Date. I think, in the process, Benjamin and Samuel—undoubtedly, learned a great deal about controlling their own passion, learning what to look out for with the opposite sex—as we talked honestly about how boys and girls are wired and how they move into adolescence.
The key thing, in all this that we're talking about here, is that a parent be intentional—that he be purposeful—that you, as a mom, are in there, in your son's life, talking to him about these matters, and how young ladies act, and how they can behave, and teaching him what to do when a young lady is aggressive, and how he can get out of that situation. Maybe, if need be, brainstorm with him about ways that he can unplug from the relationship gracefully, while still showing respect for her, and also maintaining his own nobility as a young man.
Bob: And, of course, all of this is predicated on the idea that your son wants to honor God—that you have been talking with him about the Gospel—about a relationship with Christ, and what it looks like to live your life to try to honor Christ, to respond to God’s grace in your life by living humbly and obediently before Him. The reason that you have a strategy here is because you want to please God with your life, and with your behavior, and with your actions. I think we have to keep that sentiment, front and center, with our sons, as they experience what we’re talking about.
You have outlined strategies for moms and dads to follow in the new book that you’ve written, which is called Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys. It includes seven conversations that parents ought to be having with their sons. The book is brand-new. We’re anxious to get it out to as many people as possible. That’s why, this week, you can receive a copy when you make a donation to help support FamilyLife Today.
All you have to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I Care”. When you make an online donation, we will automatically send you, not only the Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys book, but also Dennis’s book called Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date, which is designed for parents of teenage girls. Whether you have sons or daughters, you will find these books helpful.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “I Care”, to make an online donation. You can also make a donation over the phone. All you have to do is call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. When you do call to make a donation, mention that you’d like to receive the books that we were talking about on the radio. Our team will make arrangements to get those to you.
Let me just say, “Thanks for your support.” FamilyLife Today is listener-supported; and your financial contributions make it possible for us to be on the air on this station, on our network of stations all across the country, and online at FamilyLifeToday.com, all around the world. We appreciate your partnership with us in helping to make those resources possible for the hundreds of thousands of people who tune in or find us online each week. Thanks for your part in helping to make that happen.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about how the reality of this aggressive girl situation is not something that’s new in the 21st century. It goes all the way back to the book of Genesis. Barbara Rainey is going to join us tomorrow, as well, to talk about how moms can be involved in these conversations with their sons. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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