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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