This program is sponsored by Focus on the Family, a listener-supported ministry helping to do very well. If I can teach my boys nothing other than brush your teeth and put on deodorant, I think I've succeeded.
That's a good one. Some great ideas there about training your sons to become men, and if you've got a boy in your home or maybe you work with young boys at church or in school, you probably have an opinion about what else should be added to that kind of list. This is Focus on the Family with Focus president and author Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller, and Jim, I had to work pretty hard on a few of those issues with my boys when they were growing up. How about you? Me too, John. Me too. I remember how Gene and I were always reminding our boys to brush your teeth and use deodorant.
Man, that's carbon copy. Sometimes I still remind them to do it, and I don't want to embarrass anyone, but here we go. We've also had lots of family discussions over the years about the future of what being a good and godly man looks like. We've done Bible studies in that regard because we wanted our sons to launch well, and every parent should have that same priority for both girls and boys.
How to launch your children well. In our culture, we don't have a good process for that transition from boyhood to manhood. I admire cultures like the Jewish culture where you have Bar Mitzvah saying, you're no longer a boy, you're now a man. There's a demarcation line. You're a boy yesterday, but today you've made it to the big leagues. You're into manhood.
Now go get a job. Well, there's some good practical encouragement. It is, but we struggle with where that line is today.
I mean, is it when you get your driver's license or when you're able to vote? We can all fumble a bit at that moment where that manhood takes place, and today we're going to cover that territory in the program. Yeah, we'll return to one of our best of broadcasts from a while ago. We recorded it with Jonathan Catherman. He's worked for decades in private and public education and has real expertise in youth and leadership training. Jonathan is the father of two sons himself, and he's written a book that benefits pretty much any family raising boys. It's called The Manual to Manhood, How to Cook the Perfect Steak, Change Attire, Impress a Girl, and 97 Other Skills You Need to Survive.
We've got details about that book in the show notes. Let's go ahead and hear now, Jim, how you began the conversation with Jonathan on today's episode of Focus on the Family. Now our boys are about the same age.
I was curious about that. I almost regret not bringing them with me on this trip. That would have been fun. They could have gone fishing. Well, my boys have been fishing this weekend, so they would have liked to have done that again.
It's a great experience. Let's talk about that in general. Paint a picture of the typical boy you meet.
You're engaging with a lot of young men. Talk about, if we could, who is that typical boy today? Sure. I mean, I don't mean to be too generic, but I think when we do a typical boy today, we almost have to do a comparison of when we were boys versus what boys are like today.
Is there a difference? Absolutely. The cultural norm has shifted so dramatically between when we were growing up and they are now. Like a boy today, here example being deodorant, like in the lead-in. That's what it's going to be all program long.
Gene is very happy. Well, how many options of deodorant did we have when we were growing up? Probably one. Like the one you got out of your dad's. Old Spice.
Yeah, Old Spice, right? Well, now you've got 13 flavors of Axe or Scents, and you go down the aisle, what am I supposed to wear and how much am I supposed to wear, when am I supposed to start wearing it, and you meet these young men today. Again, not just be of all young men, but I'm finding an inconsistency in the capabilities of young men starting at about age 11, 12, 13 years old, where they're really struggling trying to figure out how do they control everything from wear and deodorant to their voice changing to knowing how to shake hands to confidence that it's just not being brought up like it was a generation ago.
You've written this book Manual to Manhood, which I love, and you said yourself it's a simple approach to helping your boy become a man. And I understand you wrote this book because of a handshake. So how did a handshake lead you to writing a book? Right, I was at a leadership conference at UCLA, and after I spoke, there's this long line of let's go shake the speaker's hand. This guy walks up to me, and I've already noticed a couple patterns. One being, what is wrong with these young men?
How come they don't they know how to iron their shirts and their slacks? This is a global leadership conference, and they're walking towards me like they just stepped out of their own luggage. And this young man walks up to me, and it just clicked because he gave me this just dead fish handshake. I'm like, I have yet to receive a good handshake out of everybody who's met me.
It's either been overpowering or underwhelming. I said, you know what, we got to do something because these young people are the leaders of not just today, and we call them leaders of tomorrow, but they're the leaders of today as well. Yeah. And never before in history have we been given more to steward, and we all will agree to those who've been given much, much is expected, but yet they're struggling with the little things, yet we're expecting them to steward the big things. So let's bring it all the way back down to something as simple as a handshake to demonstrate I know how to control myself.
Now will you trust me with some values? So much of this is father engagement too, and I think, you know, we fall on the excuses of we're busy and they'll get it. I got it. I didn't have anybody telling me. I mean, I didn't have a dad in my life, and in that regard, I remember frantically trying to figure out how to tie a tie.
This was before smartphones, and I'm probably in junior high going off to the junior high dance, and I didn't have anybody to ask. So I kind of threw a knot together, and I think I got teased a bit for it. But the point of that is, you know, some dads feel like boys will figure it out. That's not a good perspective, is it?
I don't think it's a good perspective at all. In your case, you said you had to experiment to get it right. So we can observe, and we can experiment. We could be instructed. And a father engaged showing his son how to tie a tie. He might not get it the first time, but then we re-engage.
It's relational, and it's skill-based. And so he walks away with a tie tied and this feeling like he did it, says the 12, 13-year-old. Dad's thinking, I really did most of the work there. Next time out, the son comes and says, Dad, what do you think about my tie? Well, let me help you fix it up a little bit, son. And now the son's done the majority of the work. Third time around, Dad goes, your tie looks really well.
Well, we now have three engagements of compliment, just about tying a tie, bonding relationally as well as building the skill, or you can experiment and try it out and maybe get teased and see if you got it right or not. You know, you talk about that handshake, something Gene and I did for both Trent and Troy, both against their will was to enroll them in cotillion. Now, a lot of people, I didn't understand what that was when we first enrolled him.
I said, it's going to be mostly about dinner table manners. And that was only a small fraction of it. It was mostly about dancing in appropriate ways, like ballroom dancing, the waltz and those kinds of things. And they were mortified. And I remember the first night when I took my oldest Trent, he just looked across the room at the beautiful Broadmoor Ballroom here in Colorado Springs.
It's a gorgeous resort hotel. And he looked across the room at me and his eyes are saying, when I get a hold of you, Dad, you are dead. Because that was the first time he had to hold a girl's hand and introduce his companion to the adult chaperone, shake the chaperone's hand. And that I would say, Trent told me this morning, he said, that's where I learned how to shake a hand properly and look the adult in the eye. It's important to know that.
It's critical to know those little skills. When I meet young men today at a school or at a conference and I get the bad handshake, I'll stop them. I say, all right, hey, man, really nice to have met you. Let's do that handshake over again. Now, look me in the eye. Good.
Now, hey, excellent job. Now, next time you shake someone's hand, that's the way to go. A really good handshake. Congratulations. Always lead it up to a compliment.
Or how many times would you have done it wrong and the person walked away thinking, what was that? So having an opportunity to be instructed and your son's going to an experience like that, that's a controlled environment. It's a safer controlled environment.
Or we can go out in the world, which is not one of the controlled environments. And there aren't too many folks out there wanting the best for our boys. They're wanting to get the best from our boys. So if we set them up for success with a simple handshake, they might look mom and dad at you now cross-eyed thinking you've got two heads growing out of your shoulders going, why in the world are you teaching me how to shake hands? These are the little things. Those who can steward little can learn to steward much. And shaking hands is a great place to start. That's a good point. Talk about those bad role models in the culture today.
It seems that the culture is demanding attention from our kids. They're pulling them into the, Dr. Dobson used to describe it as a hallway of doors. And each door had a different label on it, drugs or premarital sex or whatever it might be. And he said in his day, the doors would be shut and locked. You'd have to find a way to get through the door. And then in the 80s, 90s, the doors were there, but they were just a little bit ajar.
Today I described that analogy as wide open. Television is grabbing our kids, movies, pop culture in general. How do we train them to manage that as a Christian young man in a good way? I think honestly the first training needs to come to the parent. Marketing is much better at gaining and retaining the attention of our young people than most parents are.
And the reason is because marketing teams sit around tables, strategizing about how to get the attention of a young person, hold onto it and extract value from it. Maybe as parents, as a men's group or women's group or within the church or just in my, how about mom, dad at your own home, sit down with your kids not there and strategize about how to gain and retain their attention and something that instead of taking value from your son or daughter gives value to them. What would that discussion sound like?
Play it out a bit for us. You and your wife sitting down at the table, kids are in bed. What would that discussion sound like? I need to start with a description of where we are, maybe talk about where we'd like to be. So what's the aspiration? Where do we want to see our sons say three years, five years, 10 years out from now? Because right now if they're young, they're essentially, they're dependent. Our intent is to get them to become independent with a greater level of maturity beyond that, even interdependent. So where do we want them to be?
And then we back up the conversation to where are we now? But be realistic with your position where you are, not aspirational with where you are. Be aspirational with where you want them to go.
Example is you stick with the example of shaking hands. We'd love to see our sons be able to go to, they need to get a job in the next couple of years. My son's 14 and four years from now he's going to be 18 and he needs to be able to know how to work by then.
Okay, so I shouldn't, hey son, Reed, my 14 year old son's Reed, Reed come in here. You got to start thinking about getting a job. We just jumped the gun there. You went from zero to 100 in one sentence. So if the intent is for my son to be able to get and keep a job so he can earn his own money to start paying his own way and understand what finances and independence and interdependence looks like in the world, then let's bring it all the way back to what is he capable of now and how can we build him up into a place where that release to independence is realistic, not aspirational. That is really good and I'm thinking again my own boys we're right now talking about being able to do lawn work and things like that. So I was telling them you need to make a flyer up and determine what your price is going to be and then you send those out and if it's not working then you got to go door to door and kind of negotiate a good price and so I'm looking forward to seeing that unfold over the next couple of years. Well as adults we have that background knowledge.
You just described sales and marketing, right? We know what that is because we're mature adults. They don't know what that is yet so you got to walk them into the process and be okay with them not being great at it at first. Practice, mom, dad, hear me, practice does not make perfect, okay? There's only one who's perfect and his name's Christ and I'm not him.
He lives within me but that doesn't mean that what we do is perfect. Practice simply makes better and nobody, you're not a failure until you give up. So if my son goes out and he just botches someone's yard, you know, he moses their yard and it's just a terrible, you know, weeds are still growing up on the side so he didn't do a good job sweeping and it's not a failure in the yard. You got to go back and finish the job or fix the job and next time you'll become better and we'll become better and become better. I think we all need to look back to experiences in our own life when we were tweens and teens and young adults and say how many times do we have to practice something before we got it right?
Hopefully nobody saw us get it wrong because we want to and this is something I stress heavy in the book about young men is they want to gain respect and avoid embarrassment. Yeah, I think, you know, an example for us, my youngest, Troy, wanted to play Little League this year. Now he's 12, he's never played Little League, some of those kids have been playing for five years.
So ahead of time I think, okay, he's not going to do well, he doesn't have the skills. So I said to Troy, you know, Troy, this will be your learning year. You're going to be at bat, you may not rise to some of the capability of the other kids but that's okay. This is your year to learn how to hit. The coaches will help you.
A couple of grounders might get through your legs but don't be discouraged. He goes, oh yeah, Dad, that's okay. I know this would be the year I'll learn but it helps begin to frame because there's going to be those times when you don't rise to the level of your peers because you haven't done it and you could put any circumstance around that, whatever your young man is going to be trying to do. And I think it's helped him.
I've seen it. He's still engaged in that endeavor. He's improving but at the end of the game the sting doesn't last as long. Is that a good approach? I think it is. I think it's a great approach because again it's in, we've got another game coming.
Let's try it again, practice a little bit better. The worst curse I think we could bring upon ourselves in this context is that when the opportunity is there, we're unprepared. Right. And so what we're trying to do is prepare these young men so when the opportunity rises, they can rise to meet the opportunity. And we're reacting out of emotion and that's not a healthy place typically.
That would not be a healthy place. I really appreciate Jonathan Catherman's book, The Manual to Manhood because Jonathan you're framing things in a big picture kind of way but the subtitle is all about the little things. How to cook the perfect steak, change attire, impress a girl, and 97 other skills you need to survive. So you really are talking about little things that lead to big things.
And I mentioned before we came into the studio that respect, that element of respect and avoiding embarrassment, I mean that resonates with me. 13, 14, oh horrifically embarrassing years for me. Those are mountain moments. They are.
They are. And my 11 year old Zane is really into football and I had kind of signed off on any physical thing for him. He just did not seem to have coordination when he was younger. That boy throws a really nice spiral.
And it's because he has practiced and practiced. But what I see is he is totally motivated by playground respect. It's something that he intuitively wants to get and to avoid that embarrassment. Is that just something wired in us or do we have to guide our kids to understand that? I can't wait to ask God that question.
It's wired in. Is it part of the DNA of male to gain respect and avoid embarrassment? Certainly the reoccurring pattern. I mean I don't know many men who aren't concerned about that. I think we can boil it down in many different ways. But I think that most young men and old men alike from the youngest to the oldest among us to gain respect and avoid embarrassment is a strong value. And I do think it's something that God put into us.
The question though is how do we go about doing that? And for your son Zane to throw a spiral and everybody looks at him and goes, wow look at that ball go. You know what? It builds him up. So what of the young man who doesn't have dad there throwing with him? Or maybe it's not his deal right?
Maybe he doesn't like sports. So what else can you do to gain respect? You ever seen somebody swing a hammer but they choke up on the hammer and they're holding it right up by the hammer head and you're looking at that guy going who taught him how to swing a hammer?
And the answer is nobody taught him how to swing a hammer. And that's an awkward feeling to realize that everybody's looking at you going these guys don't even know how to use a tool or overcook a steak. You know where you bided your buddies over you got the grill going. I'm still doing that.
That's because nobody taught you that. I can burn anything on a grill man I'm telling you. Well let me real brief let me tell you something that happened. I was in south Texas driving on the freeway and I just come from a university speaking and I was living the post-dopamine high of that was a great experience right. And all of a sudden I was in this car accident didn't see coming. I was doing 75 and that's just one of those things you if you don't know you're in a car accident 75 miles an hour on the freeway and all the airbags are deploying and all the glass is breaking and you're thinking well at that time I was thinking I'm gonna die in this car accident. I didn't even see it coming and only have one other thought going through my mind is that is who's gonna raise my boys.
Yeah isn't that interesting at that moment? Yeah I wasn't worried about my wife she is street smart and sassy and beautiful there's gonna be a long lineup at my memorial service the guy's asking her out on a date but my boys who's who would raise my boys to be good men. What did that motivate you to do after the accident?
I stood on the side of the road with nothing more than a bruise on my hip and a total rental car and I said I'm gonna go home I'm a decent dad I'm gonna go home and be a purposeful parent. So we started doing something at our house and we played off our last name Catherine Man is the last name so starting in Catherine Man missions. A Catherine Man mission could be running errands and pumping gas or going to the grocery store and getting the shopping done just the guys you know they need to know how to budget for burger over steak as much as they need to know how to change a tire and so all the Catherine Man missions are little incremental rites of passage.
Those are good good little things to be doing. Talk to that single mom I mean this is part of our culture today where dads are not involved for whatever reason in their kids and in their son's lives. Talk to that mom who is desperate for a man to be a mentor to her boy. What can she do to a certain point and then what can she not do to help that boy become a man? First thing mom thank you very much because you're doing double duty. You're doing the role of mom and the role of dad and it can be hard for your son to come to you and say hey I you know I've got this peach fuzz on my face what am I supposed to do with it and you know teaching your son to shave can be an awkward thing or other topics I mean that's just one of the simple ones.
One of the things though mom you can do is just look for ways to support him. There's little things like getting them resources like that don't push them towards something get involved in a church group that has got some great men who are willing to mentor your sons as well. It's a biblical instruction for men to mentor in the context as iron sharpens iron so does one man sharpen another.
That's a great place for in a youth group or in a men's group. We're supposed to raise up you know if when you raise a child up in the ways of the Lord he will not depart from it when he grows old. Mom that's your responsibility but young men need to see that from a positive male role model as well. Well Jonathan when you look at the culture today you know there's a real lack of chivalry and some women young women particularly are put off by it because they've been told by feminists and others that you know men shouldn't do anything for you you're capable and they are offended by it you know sometimes when I've opened a door for a woman going into a business or something most times to be fair you get a courtesy thank you but sometimes you'll get a woman saying I don't need you to do that for me I've actually had women say that to me and I'm like oh my goodness what should we be teaching our young boys about how to treat women in a culture that doesn't seem to understand how to treat women. What's the difference between open the door for a woman walking through and opening the door like you did for me walking here into the studio today this is common courtesy to love your neighbor as you love yourself and of course you can't be all things to all people and you can't guarantee that they're going to accept and or reject what it is you're offering. My wife did the same thing when we were dating in high school I opened a door for her and she looked at me and I think I'd open many doors for her but this time she crossed her arms and gave me the head bob and the hips way out she goes I can open my own door thank you very much I'm thinking where did that come from and it really was this context of she appreciated the chivalry at the same time she's perfectly capable and I thought I said well wait a minute time out I'm not doing this for you because I don't think you can see that man walking up to that little old man walking up here and I open the door for him too so I'm not trying to date him I'm just trying to be polite to others and this is one of the ways that we can demonstrate that I value others not just myself I've seen a lot of people go through the door valuing themselves they open the door for themselves walk right through and it swings closed on the person right behind them moms dads teach your boys how to be open doors to be chivalrous to do for others as they want to be done for them yeah and that's the point you're teaching a higher spiritual value there you're not trying to be a downer for people at all no and I think that's a great a great value to teach Jonathan one of the most important things we need to pass on to our boys is our faith I mean that's like job one and describe how you've done this with your sons a long time ago a very wise woman gave me instruction on how to speak to my boys my boys were very little at the time and uh Reed was at a thermonuclear meltdown in a candy store total temper tantrum yeah never happened never happened to anybody else only me I'm sure everybody's watching us and and this woman who owned the candy store she corrected me because I said to my son you're embarrassing get up look everybody's watching you you're you're embarrassing yourself translated you're really embarrassing me right uh you're in trouble get up we're going home you're gonna be in timeout and she said stop right now wow and she turned me around and she said put him right back down where you got him so down he went again back into a temper tantrum and she flipped the script she went back down she got down to his level and said Reed will you repeat after me and in a series of repeats he went from laying on the floor throwing a temper tantrum to sitting up to standing up to marching around her candy store pumping his fists in the air saying I am strong I am brave and I'm of great courage I looked at her and I said how did you do that what are you the child whisperer and she got her finger in my face and said no you have to speak it so Jonathan you gave him no other options you told him he was embarrassing and trouble going home to be in timeout what else did you say to him I said I didn't say anything she goes every day you need to tell him to be strong to be brave and to be of great courage well that plays over in the context of passing on our faith before our sons as well they need to hear me speak of my faith they need to see me living it out authentically they need to know that the man that Christ has created who is in right relationship with his mother who loves his sons as a father first and also wants to be friends with them who is honoring God and honoring others this is the ethos of who he is this is part of who he is it's not a Sunday weekend experience I've got to speak it so and live it so as my sons if you're to ask them today who are you they would look at you in the eye and say hi my name is Reed Katherine my name is Cole Katherine they'd shake your hand real well and then they'd say I'm strong brave and of great courage and they're men I call men in the making of great faith because they've personalized the instruction they saw because I was not hypocritical in living it out wow that is good parenting advice right there Jonathan Catherman author of the book manual to manhood had a cook the perfect steak I got to read that section by the way change your tire I probably need to freshen up that one impress a girl and 97 other skills you need to survive it's great content and thanks for being with us it's been a privilege thanks for the invite some terrific insights for raising godly sons who will become confident capable men and I'm sure that many of our listeners have been encouraged by this conversation what a wonderful message John a great reminder for moms and dads about those practical skills that will help our sons succeed in life if you have an adolescent or teen boy growing up in your home this book is a perfect resource for them it's a simple and easy to read manual and man it covers everything like setting the table for a meal how to check the oil in a car and even how to freshen up that bad breath maybe you know a boy or young man who would benefit from such skills yeah I'd love to put this book into your hands if you can send a financial gift of any amount to focus on the family today to help families we will gladly send you a copy of the manual to manhood now if I could be honest what we really need are faithful friends who will commit to a monthly pledge for the ministry because we depend upon your partnership with us to strengthen marriages equip parents like we've done today and provide all of the resources we have for families on a whole variety of topics if you can sign up for a monthly pledge to focus that will really help us but maybe all you can do right now is a one-time gift and that will help us too obviously everything helps let me say thank you in advance for that support yeah we really are grateful for your generosity and we'll be sure to bundle an audio download of our entire conversation with Jonathan about his book donate when you click on the link in the description below and we'll be sure to download it when you click on the link in the show notes or call 800 the letter a and the word family and coming up next time we'll hear from Dana Gresh offering insight about your daughter and her relationships and until your daughter starts to do friendship the way God designed her to do friendship it's not gonna work and what is that that is she needs to be a friend on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ bring your bible to school day on Thursday October 6th register now at bring your bible.org
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