Boys, Video Games and Extended Adolescence

The football passed back and forth tossed in high spiraled arcs. I smiled as I watched my son Kyle and our dear friend Michael wile away the last sunshine of a lazy Memorial Day and hang out man to man-or better yet man to almost man.

Kyle, at almost fourteen, is on the cusp of manhood -teetering precariously between maturity and immaturity on any given day. But with every pat on the back and encouragement from the dudes in his life (dads, grandfathers, mentors, coaches and older friends) he continues to inch towards adulthood.

I was struck with emotion when I realized how each one of our male friends went out of their way at some point in the day to connect and encourage my son. I don’t take that blessing lightly because I know how crucial it is for men to intentionally lead, parent and guide our sons if we are to regain and raise another generation of valiant men.

And this rite of passage is something I see sorely lacking in our society.

We used to send our boys off to college and the military, or at the very least an apprenticeship and have them return a little worse for the wear –but independent and savvy enough to survive on their own. Men led each other.

But there is a whole generation of men floundering.

I scratch my head and ponder where have we gone wrong? Could it be rampant divorce, boys abandoned by dads, or a culture targeted by media and bombarded by leisure?

Somehow we have we allowed our boys to stagnate –numbed, dumbed down and distracted by video games, sex and pornography. They are missing the glorious adventure and crucial transition of becoming their own man and surviving.

As the mother of a son, I know the last thing I want is his twenty-nine year old butt parked on my sofa –jobless –and playing Call of Duty shouting for me to make him and his boys a sandwich.

Church planter Darrin Patrick calls this type of male a “Ban,” a hybrid of boy and man.

Ban is a juvenile because there is an entire market niche created for him to live in the lusts of youth. He is the best thing for the porn industry and the video game industry (48% of men between 18-34 play video games for almost 3 hours a day). Ban puts off adulthood, mortgages and marriage. Women give up waiting for Mr. Right and settle for Mr. Ban, an apathetic, sarcastic boy man.”

So why the rise of Ban?

Sometimes I think we have taken away the most necessary elements of story in our son’s lives –conflict. Our boy’s shoot aliens on a screen instead of battling real villains or bullies on the playground. They look at porn instead of fighting for a woman’s heart and they flounder for meaning instead of forging a life of courage wounded and bloody from the trenches.

We protect and screen the hard knocks of adversity unwittingly sacrificing the triumphs of overcoming a great challenge and we give our boys crumbs to feast on instead of a meaty life of adventure and purpose.

It makes me want to send my kid off to wilderness camp or the military…but I think I’ll settle for football and a North Dakota trip this summer at least for now.

What do you think about Ban?

And more importantly…What can you do to invest in a boy or a young man today?

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Comments

  1. I read a great article in the Wall Street Journal on this very topic titled “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” (reference below). Where’s our culture going?!! Our values have dramatically changed since our parents’ and grand parents’ generation. What’s up with that?

    My Conclusions:

    1. We get what we tolerate as a society and society tolerates men in their 20s being in an extended phase of adolescents.

    2. Role Models. Most 20-something men aren’t pushed to be more of a man because (a) they never had a good male role model to begin with, or (b) dad isn’t there at all to be a role model or push/motivate them.

    3. Expectations have lowered. The WWII generation was about sacrifice, discipline, and fighting for something bigger than oneself – and after the war settling down, marrying and having kids. That was normal. We have a much more complicated, competitive, and expensive – and materialistic – society today. We don’t we need a 5 car garage and billion dollar home – but people think they do. I think a lot of guys want to feel successful financially first before settling down.

    4. College. It’s an opportunity for a lot of kids to get a great degree – and an opportunity to get into trouble and develop thinking that they’ll carry with them into their twenties that perpetuates the same lifestyle as in college. It’s no wonder these guys behave like an adolescent after college – they had four years of training in how to not live like a real man.

    5. “Bans” vs. Alpha Males, and Dating in Über-Materialistic Southern California. How many times have we seen and heard women say they want an Alpha Male? Only a bazillion times. Females in pop culture to men: “For you to be attractive offer money, status, and power – and be Romeo.” Let’s face it: if you’re to date in Southern California you need a slick car, to be dressed well, some status, a side of power to go, and a boat load of confidence. When you’re in your early 20s you might get some of those but getting your life together may take some time. Bans and Alpha Males are competing for the same women and if Bans keep losing to Mr. Alpha Male eventually the Bans might just give up and continue their non-grown up lifestyle rather than mature.

    Bottom line: men in their twenties need to ditch video games, grow up and be men. I’m not excusing men’s profuse amounts of asinine behavior but women need to get a proper perspective of wealth and stop demanding that a Romeo-like “Alpha Male” figure dripping with money, status, and power roll up in a Mercedes to sweep them off their feet – someone needs to explain to single women that Sex in the City is fantasy TV show, not how life really works, and they do not need Gucci and Prada to survive.

    WSJ article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704409004576146321725889448.html

  2. I agree with all your theories. I’m reading “Paradise Lost” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and it’s so interesting how the war changes the protagonist-Amory Blaine -after a leisurely four years at Princeton. He changes, he grows…he becomes a man.

    but on another note, you must meet some awful young ladies! I do have to wonder if maybe you are shopping in the wrong neighborhood. I’m thinking the mid-west might be a better fit…less superficial girls there!

    Ha…I know girls can be be shallow. I think it’s a distorted twist on the way God intended women to be. We are created to seek out security to provide for and protect our young. Not a bad thing, but women think security translates to wealth and they really are two very different things. A hard working man with a moderate income is plenty of security, but ladies get it screwed up and strive for more in our materialistic culture.

    I had to get past the pastor’s income myself. I didn’t want to scrimp and scrounge for money. As a single mom it was hard enough. But my husband is so worth it and I’m glad I took the leap and trusted God to provide. We aren’t rich in a wordly sense, but we are wealthy in a million laughs and preceless moments.

    I hope your girlfriend (if I recall you have a girlfriend) loves you for you and knows a good man is worth a thousand Prada bags.

    Blessings,
    Sam

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