Boys need authority and authorization to function well.
Before, I commented on how boys need to understand objectives and rules, but these two get imparted by a trusted rule-giver. Be assured, I know that history and our own personal experience is stockpiled with poor examples of rule-givers, from Hitler to our angry Kindergarten teacher, but toxic examples must not exempt this principle. Some even argue that no authority brings chaos and ruin, which is worse than bad authority. I won’t wade into that debate, but authority is indispensable, even though human authority is categorically imperfect.
As a father or gaurdian, you are a boy’s first understanding that the galaxy doesn’t revolve around him and he has a calling beyond satisfying his appetites. You also teach him that he is both under authority and holds authority. Being under authority means he is accountable to someone–fathers, teachers, pastors, police, coaches, etc–to know and live by a common ethic and standard. Simultaneously, a boy must learn to hold authority, meaning he is responsible to lead himself and others in the common ethics or standards with humility and courage.
Of course, there will be times he must challenge and hold authority accountable, which means you must teach a boy to do that humbly and effectively, by coaching him to do so with you. Why? Something my dad used to teach me, “Submit to law, and law will submit to you.” Basically, no matter if I think law is fair, seek to follow it or I can never petition to change it. Personally, how many times have you wanted to adjust a decision for an uncooperative rebel? Not so easy is it? Still, how many times have you been willing to adjust a standard or outcome for someone who humbly petitions it after trying to abide by it? If you’re a just authority, then you probably can’t count that one.
- Explain under authority and holding authority to your boys.
- Choose moments to highlight how you’re applying this to them, and help them apply it, as well. Example: If he gets in trouble at school, don’t bash the teacher and bail him out. Take him to meet the teacher and teach him to submit and apologize; yes, even if the teacher is mostly wrong.
- Recognize, reward and adjust as he gets it.
One of the most freeing things you can explain to a boy is how authority works in and through his life. He will be more effective in life, especially when he gets his first horrible boss.