If you turn on almost any television show involving teenaged boys, they are often reduced to these smart-aleck, hormonally-driven, thoughtless, reckless, insurance-raising, nonsensical beings that shrug off their mistakes with suave indifference.
This is not at all what the world needs. It is not normal. It is not typical. It is not what we need to be telling them they are. The old adage that children become what you tell them comes into play here in a powerful way.
Why can't the media, instead, show us what young men really should be? A boy's passage into adulthood is not determined by intimate relationships with girls. That is not what makes a boy into a man.
The problem with these movies and sitcoms is that boys begin to see themselves in this way and rationalize their behaviors as being part of their journey.
While viewing how a young man is portrayed on a television show is a good opportunity to speak to your own young man about the reality of his conduct and your expectations of him.
What do you think about the way he treated the girl he was dating? Do you think it was right or wrong? What could he have done differently? What would you do?
2. Rites of passage
What makes a man a man? How will you know when you are a man? Are there any rites of passage that transition you into adulthood?
What makes a man successful? How much does the car he drive matter? How important is college? Is it more important that your job makes lots of money or that you love what you do?
How important is it to keep a promise? A confidence? Is there ever a time when it's OK to tell a secret? What if someone is in life-threatening danger? Is it OK, then?
Is it acceptable to party your way through your freshman year of college because others do it? Should you buckle down and withstand the criticism of your peers in order to make the most of your education? How important is college?
Are sexually explicit movies ever OK to watch? Is there anything wrong with movies that exploit and objectify women? What will you do if you become uncomfortable with a movie you are watching with your friends? Do you think that media depicts an accurate portrayal of men?
Is it OK for men to cry? Should they do it alone, or is it OK to cry in front of women? Friends? Should you fake being sensitive to get a woman? What makes you sad?
It would be a wonderful world if we could change the way humans are understood, but that would be an arduous task. Instead, take the opportunities that are laid before you to discuss these and other important issues with your young man. Help him to discover who he is and what he stands for. Support him in this challenging time to become a good man. Keep the lines of communication open, even when he tries to shut them down. Don't badger, but do offer. The work is cut out for parents, but the results will more than cover the commitment.