Parenting, Sons, and Screens

I have three sons between the ages of 9 and 14.  This means our home is not always quiet, perfectly clean, or without certain smells and screams.  As many of you know, every boy has his own personality, including strengths and weaknesses.  Raising boys is hard; there’s no way around that!  I have to chuckle when I read a Christian parenting book that says something like this: “After you discipline your child, gently sit him down on the bed, explain what he did wrong, give him a hug, and tell him you love and forgive him.”  In reality, it’s more like this: “After you discipline your child, prepare yourself for him to either 1) act like it doesn’t hurt, 2) act like he doesn’t care,  or 3) run out of the house while yelling ‘get away from me!'”  The forgiveness and love part often has to come later, when everyone is more calm.  Speaking of raising boys, here’s a helpful resource: Boys Should be Boys by Meg Meeker.

This is not a Christian book, strictly speaking.  But it has a Judeo-Christian bent to it, speaking of morals, love, character, service, duty, honestly, and so forth.  I enjoyed this book because it was practical, realistic, and full of common grace wisdom for raising boys.  This book will go along well with Christian parenting books.

Meeker’s main emphasis was that parents have to be there for their boys; they have to be role models who love, teach, help, and discipline their sons.  I didn’t agree with every part of it, but it is one of my favorite parenting books.  One strength of this book is Meeker’s insistence that parents have to spend time with their sons:

“Boys spend far too little time with parents and they suffer because of it.  …We have become so absorbed with keeping up with our daily lives that we miss seeing what our boys really need, which is simply more of us: our time and our attention.  …Our boys don’t need things, they need us, even just being around….” (p. 13).

Meeker says we often try to keep up with other families so we enroll our kids in all sorts of activities.  This results in a busy lifestyle; so busy that parents have little time to really interact with their sons.

Another part of the book that really helped me was where Meeker explains how screens often hinder a boy’s development.  Violence, crude language, and sex in video games and movies keep getting worse because the users become bored with current levels of violence, language, and sex.  When we let our boys spend hours in front of screens, like it or not, that stuff gets in their heads and hinders their growth in various ways.  Sadly, sometimes we let our boys play and watch bad things simply because other kids their age are doing it.  Meeker writes,

“As a pediatrician I can tell you that disconnecting, or strictly limiting and strictly supervising your son’s access to electronic media is one of the best things you can do for his emotional, mental, and physical health.  Boys are suffering from some serious problems from using the wrong electronic media.  And it starts not in their teenage years, but long before, when busy parents use the television as a babysitter.  …A mother who  buys off a toddler’s or a teen’s temper tantrums with television or a video game clearly has a problem on her hands.  She needs to learn to deal with her toddler or teenager – and the sooner the better.  He will develop wretched habits if he learns it’s that easy to manipulate his mother” (p. 55, 57).

Meeker’s right; instead of letting our boys spend hours in front of the screen (TV, phone, PC, tablet, etc.), we need to strictly limit screen time and content.  On top of that, we need to spend time with our sons.  Instead of getting them the newest smartphone or video game, use that money to buy something like board games, bikes, kayaks, camping gear, or something else you can use together to spend quality time with your sons.  Meeker puts it this way: “Be sure your son spends more time with you, with nature, and with the real world, than he does in front of a computer or television screen” (p. 73).

The above quotes are found in Meeker’s book, Boys Should be Boys.

Shane Lems

2 comments on “Parenting, Sons, and Screens

  1. […] Presbyterian Church and services as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his blog and is used with […]

  2. […] Presbyterian Church and services as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his blog and is used with […]

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