Bringing up Daniel in a JayZ world is not for the faint of heart.
But we can no longer sit idly by and let our sons minds and souls be perverted through their eyes….
The first time I saw my oldest son, I fell in love with him. He was perfect. Ten little fingers. Ten little toes. Long, chicken legs, just like his dad. And these big, bright blue eyes that I knew were going to break hearts one day. As my daughter held him gently in her two year old arms, I thought “If only he could stay this little forever.”
But he can’t.
And he didn’t.
He is now a goofy ten year old boy who is growing into a strong, capable man.
And my mama heart hurts for him.
Because, while I understand the struggles my daughters will have growing up in a sexually charged, Miley Cyrus world, I know that the trials and tribulations that my three sons will face in this Jay Z world will be just as great. And maybe even more challenging.
Once upon a time sexy was not so visible. Once upon a time modesty was celebrated and embraced. Once upon a time male role models were men of integrity, character, and honor.
But that once upon a time is over.
We have failed our daughters because we have let their innocence be stripped away like clothing. But we have failed our sons because we have let that message be ok.
Last fall, around Thanksgiving, my two oldest sons and I were watching a Thanksgiving special on prime time TV. We don’t watch live television very often. But it was a holiday special, during early evening hours, so I thought it would be safe.
That was my first mistake.
About half way through the show, during an ad break, a commercial came on for a national fast food chain. The commercial was titled “3 Way Fantasy” and included back music about having a threesome. It opened with a back shot of two models in revealing white bikinis walking slowly toward a third model holding cooking utensils. Quick shot after quick shot showed the models chopping and cooking bacon while gyrating their hips slowly toward the camera and each other, as the song sang “She’s giving her some, she’s giving me some.” The models then provocatively fed each other the bacon and dripped BBQ sauce into each other’s mouths as they posed in sexually suggestive poses. The sexual innuendos were strong; not even close to subtle. It was supposed to be a 30 second commercial for a new bacon hamburger but you didn’t even see the hamburger until the very last clips.
I just sat there, shocked, unable to react.
That was my second mistake.
The commercial was over before I could change the channel. I got an eye full.
And so did my sons.
My oldest son looked at me, wide-eyed, and exclaimed, “Mom, those girls were in their underwear on TV! But there’s like a hundred people watching them! What does underwear have to do with hamburgers?”
It was such an innocent observation but my mama heart wept.
Then it got angry.
At our media. At our entertainment industry. At our society.
This was prime time television! And a holiday special! It was supposed to be safe for children! And yet this company and this television station thought this overt message of sex was not only acceptable but normal. And deemed it appropriate for family viewing times.
The message of sex has become so normal, in fact, that it knows no time slot, no movie rating, no radio station, no sporting event, and no television channel it can’t scream from. During the Super Bowl, you are just as likely to see a commercial with bouncing, bikini clad women as you are a commercial with drooling, diaper clad babies. Not to mention the debauchary on the halftime shows. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, JayZ, Beyonce and who else knows what…..
It’s on the radio in lyrics such as, “Girl, I love it when your body grinds on me….Strip that down for me”, “ I know you wanna see me nakey, nakey, naked”, and “I showed her then she showed me, right there, right there in the backseat.” Male entertainers in their videos and concerts, (like JayZ) and many others, feature barely dressed girls twerking, grinding, and crawling around like wild animals. And it doesn’t matter the genre. Country. Pop. Rock. To be a female in any music video these days is to be objectified to nothing more than a show piece, something to be possessed, or a conquest to be taken.
It’s at every sporting event, in every checkout line, and lining every highway.
Even female entertainers contribute to this normalizing of sexy by promoting sex like it is simply something to be given away. They dress with very little modesty and a lot of skin. The lyrics they sing are almost raunchier than their male counterparts. And it is all portrayed as a celebration of a woman just being in control of her own body.
Everywhere you look it is sex, sex, SEX.
There isn’t a part of our society that sexy isn’t used to persuade or manipulate. There is no escaping the message that sex sells and they are selling it to our sons. “Role models”, such as Florida Georgia Line and JayZ, teach our boys that sex is simply something used to gain power or influence, or at the very least, used to control someone else, and that women are worth nothing more than a pretty face, a sexy body, and a good time. And all of this is feeding our boys a false sense of what real beauty is, what real love is, and what real sex is.
They are feeding their eyes lies and filling their minds with trash.
And that should make all of us mad to the core.
But honestly, the ones we should be the most mad at is ourselves, the parents of these young, impressionable boys.
Because we have let it happen.
We have focused for so long (for good reason) on the sexualization of our daughters, calling them victims (which they very much are). But what we have ignored for far too long is that our sons are just as much victims as our daughters. Sex used to be a taboo subject but now it dances, sings, and parades through their lives as acceptable, leaving a trail of temptation and lust behind it.
And instead of fighting it, we tell our boys to look away.
I’m sorry, mamas, but that is not enough anymore!
We can’t allow our girls to dress provocatively as eye candy and expect our sons to simply “bounce their eyes.”
We can’t allow the entertainment industry to produce song after song, movie after movie, and show after show celebrating and condoning sex and sexy, and expect our sons to simply stay pure.
We can’t allow this sex obsessed world to define for our sons what they should be thinking about- sex, girls, and money- and then expect them to think of what is pure, righteous, and holy.
We can’t expect our boys to be men that respect and honor women if all we are feeding them is images of women looking more like a possession than a human being.
We have to stand against it, mamas! We have to say enough is enough!
Our boys need to be taught how to fight and win against this sex obsessed culture. Because heaven knows, the media and most of their role models aren’t going to teach them. If we don’t address these issues, the world will. And our sons (and our daughters) will suffer for it.
We have to bring up our boys to be men of integrity and character.
We have to teach them not to just look away but to go against what society is demanding be accepted as normal and ok.
We have to bring up an army of Daniels….in this JayZ World.
Daniel had it good. Yes, he and other members of Jewish nobility were taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar, far from their homeland, to live in Babylon. But Daniel quickly rose to a position of power and prominence within the Empire. He became a top advisor to the king, who considered him to be smart, discerning, well versed, charming, and respectable. No one compared to Daniel. And Daniel lived a life of luxury, safety, and privilege because of it.
But he was living in a society that went against everything he thought of as honorable and praise worthy. Daniel was a man of God, a servant of THE KING. And when society attempted to rewrite for Daniel what was appropriate and how he should behave and act, Daniel fought back. Daniel refused to submit to what the culture demanded. Daniel refused to bow his beliefs to an earthly king. Daniel refused to accept what he knew was wrong. To the point where he could lose everything. To the point that he was willing to die. Daniel was a warrior through and through.
Daniel was a cultural warrior and is an example of how we too can stand against what is being fed to us as normal and acceptable.
1 Corinthians is a powerful verse all moms should be praying over their sons. It says,
“Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
If we want to raise a cultural warrior like Daniel, we have to raise our sons to be men of integrity and Godly character. We have to teach them to be aware of the lies of society. We have to teach them to stand firm in the power of the Creator. We have to teach them to act like men, real men. And we have to teach them to be strong.
No matter what.
So, how do we bring up Daniels in a JayZ world?
1) Expect him to be a gentleman. Sadly, the idea of being a gentleman has almost vanished from our culture. To be a gentleman once meant to be kind, compassionate, self-sacrificing, and thoughtful of others. But it is now a “bad” word that equates with sexism and bigotry. But our boys want and need to be the hero. Yes, our daughters are capable of doing most things on their own. No, it isn’t setting them back to have a man open a door for them. If we want our sons to treat women like they are a princess then we have to let them be the knight. Teach your teen to pull out the chair for his date. Let your six year old hold the door open for his sister. Encourage your ten year old to let his grandma go first during a card game. Not because these women are incapable and in need of saving but because you want to grow your son to be a servant to others. Show him that chivalry doesn’t have to be dead and is used to show respect and honor to another.
2) Grow respect for all women, no matter what. All people deserve kindness and respect no matter what. Whether a girl is wearing a crop top and mini skirt or a long sleeve t-shirt and jeans, she is worthy of respect. Your son’s respect. Never allow him to disrespect you or any other woman with vulgar words or innuendos. Never allow him to act superior to not only women but to anyone else. Respect isn’t something we give because someone does anything to deserve it. Respect is something we give because we are choosing to see their worth as a created being of God. If a woman is wearing a short cut top revealing too much, our son should look away. Not only for his sake but for hers. Whether she is wearing the shirt to bring attention to herself or because she thinks it’s comfortable is beside the point. By bouncing his eyes, our son is saying, “She deserves my respect because she was created in His image, and I am going to show her honor because God’s creation is worthy and good.”
3) Educate yourself on the male brain. If you want to influence your son to think like a man of character then you have to understand how a man thinks. And while we may want to sugar coat it or ignore it, there is no doubt that men are particularly susceptible to porn and the allure sexuality has in our culture-especially when sexually explicit material is available almost anywhere, anytime, and any place. We have to accept this as real and then shape our battle plan to include it. Read books that speak to how the male brain works. Research the ins and outs of their thought process. Don’t just assume you know what he is thinking. Actually learn what and how he is thinking.
4) Monitor everything! Don’t be an ostrich with your head in the sand! Sex is everywhere. Check phones. Check social media. Check the internet. Don’t allow sexual material to be shown in your home. Turn off the TV. Turn down the radio. Put parental controls on your internet. Nothing is off limits to be reviewed. And if your son protests or refuses to comply, TAKE IT AWAY! His use of the phone or internet is a privilege, not a right. Be consistent. Be firm. Be the parent. (SIDE NOTE: We use Net Nanny to monitor our households.)
5) Stop stereotyping. Boys will be boys, yes. But what kind of boy do you want your son to be? Loving? Kind? Committed? If we want our boys to be boys of integrity and character then we need to treat them like they already are. Don’t just talk to him about sex because society says that is all he thinks about. Don’t just assume he is buying the lie and you need to reprogram his mind. Instead talk to him about what love is. Teach him to crave real love. Starting with the perfect love of his Father. Talk about what a positive, loving relationship involves. Show him what commitment looks like. Be proactive in what you want him to be and think. Don’t just address the stereotypes. Address the truth that you want him to live in. Let that be the standard that he emulates and lives in.
6) Teach him NO means NO. All of our children need to be taught that no means no. But our boys especially need to understand the power in that word. It doesn’t matter what is happening or why it is happening. If someone, male or female, says no, then all action stops. Our boys need to learn that no is never maybe. No is never a coy yes or a flirty ok. NO means NO. Period. And along with this, we need to teach our boys to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. The drunk girl at the party. The disabled boy on the bus. The younger child at the park. Our sons need to be strong for those who are vulnerable and at their weakest.
7) Give him life models. We try to give our girls role models that they can emulate to be like. We need to give our boys life models that they can emulate to act like. Our daughters want to be like this girl or that girl. But our sons want to act like that guy or this guy. They want to dunk like Lebron. Or swim like Phelps. They want to make music like Ed or sing like Justin. If the only examples we are giving them are men who act less than honorable then we are doing a huge disservice to our boys. They need examples of men that act with honor, courage, integrity, and decency. Don’t just look within our culture for these examples. Seek them out in your community. Connect your son with a pastor, coach, teacher, mentor, or leader that can be an active example of what a strong Godly man looks like and acts like.
8) Be their MODEL. I’m talking to all my fellow mamas and mamas of daughters on this one. If we want our sons to learn what real beauty is, we have to show it to them. If we are telling our daughters they are beautiful because of what’s on the inside then WE have to stop drawing attention to what’s on the outside. Yes, a woman has the right to dress any way she wants. But that doesn’t mean that she should. If a woman is wearing clothing that is meant to draw attention to her body (because let’s be honest here ladies, that is exactly why we put it on) then the blame isn’t solely on the man when he looks. If we don’t want our sons to think a woman’s worth is in how low her cleavage is or how high her shorts are, then we need to stop giving them that as the model of beauty. Monitor what your daughters wear. Monitor what you wear (because there are plenty of moms that are guilty of this). We can’t blame our boys for objectifying women when we are the ones who objectify ourselves first. If we want our girls to be more than a pretty face and a sexy body then we need our boys to see that. It isn’t fair to call a boy a pervert for looking when we first put it on display for all to see.
9) Fight With Prayer. We need to be on our knees in our war rooms, urgently praying for our sons. Daniel prayed before fighting. He even petitioned his friends to pray with him. Prayer isn’t meant to change God’s mind. It is meant to change our hearts. Pray for your son’s heart. Get yourself a group of other moms, prayer warriors, that can pray and petition along side you. Our boys are in the fight for their minds and souls. They need us to fight with them. We can no longer sit back and do nothing.
We need to remember, ladies, we are not simply raising a boy.
We are raising a man.
And it’s our unique and sacred duty as a mom to equip him to grow to be a man of integrity, honor, and character. He is God’s son, and God will ultimately grab his heart no matter what darkness society tries to seep in through his eyes. But he is our charge and we have to take that responsibility seriously. He is your Daniel.
For the sake of our sons.
And for the sake of our daughters.
“Train a child in the way he should go; and even when he is old, he will not swerve from it.”
**If you enjoyed this post and you are raising daughters, you should check out Bringing Up Esther in a Lady Gaga World.**