Boys will be boys. I always cringe a little when I hear that statement.
Believe me, I understand the sentiment behind it. I have three boys of my own, and there certainly seems to be an inborn love of wrestling, weapons, and throwing things, as well as a preoccupation with bodily parts and functions that comes naturally to the male species.
But “boys will be boys” seems to convey an element of hopelessness, a throwing up of the hands, a certain leniency in allowing boys to embrace a degree of sinfulness as part of who they are.
Our culture thinks it’s silly that we want to raise our children to be saints. Society tells us that it’s naive to think that our children will be successful in combatting the temptations against chastity. Just look at the prevalence and availability of birth control, even for high school and middle school aged students–a true indication of a society’s lost hope in its youth’s ability to uphold the virtues of responsibility and self control.
It’s true “…we are the People of God immersed in the world, and often tempted by idols.”–Pope Francis, Open Mind, Faithful Heart
The idols of sex, money, technology, materialism, and self-sufficiency bombard our children with their lies every day. Our children’s hearts and souls and their innocent faith are under attack from day one.
“It is a faith exposed to trial and threats, and even more, a faith besieged and actively opposed. It runs the risk of perishing from suffocation or starvation if it is not fed and sustained each day. (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 54)”–Pope Francis, Open Mind, Faithful Heart
How do we feed and sustain our children’s faith? How do we hang on to hope in a world filled with sin?
“As the work of Satan, sin takes aim directly at what gives us cohesion: our heart, our hope. What disintegrates the human heart is hopelessness.”–Pope Francis, Open Mind, Faithful Heart
And so we look to the Cross. We look to the bruised and broken body that sweat the blood of its soul in the Garden of Gethsemane. We look at the body that was undeservedly striped by the whip as it fell and struggled under the weight of the wood, yet persevered with love as its strength. We realize that our children are not our own personal project for showing off the effectiveness of our parenting skills, but a larger witness to the miracle of Christ’s salvation story.
Falling and getting up again are part of that story. The weakness of the flesh will surface time and time again. But Christ’s death and Resurrection are evidence that our bodies can be redeemed–that they can be made pure again and radiate the joy of uniting one’s soul to the will of God.
“The redemption of the body, according to Paul [in Rom. 8:19-21], is an object of hope. This hope has been implanted in the human heart in some sense immediately after the first sin.”–Blessed John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, 86:2
We must remain ever hopeful for our children, and teach them to embrace the hope of heaven. But it is a long, slow, inconsistent, painful journey to heaven–designed to make us long all the more for our Creator’s comforting embrace.
I don’t know for certain what paths my children’s lives will follow. The force of evil is strong and prevalent, and free will is a gift that can certainly be abused. But I am obligated to try to lay a foundation of virtue–a hearth burning with the fire of love and hope that they will always be able to see even from the blackness of despair.
In fact, it is precisely when our children fall to the lowest of lows that we are called to be a witness to hope as we persevere in prayer and lift up all who encounter our story with the strength of our faith. Hope and believe that even though your children may fall, they will also return back to the path you have paved for them–even if you don’t live to see it.
“…’in hope we have been saved’: the hope of everyday shows its power in human works and even in the very movements of the human heart, clearing a path in some sense for the great eschatological hope tied to the redemption of the body.”–Blessed John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, 86: 7
Avoid the sin of hopelessness! Persevere in your efforts to preserve your children’s purity and God will reward you richly.
Yes, sometimes boys will be boys (and girls will be girls), but we live in constant hope that they will grow into men and women of God whose hearts, minds, bodies, and souls have been surrendered completely to our Savior.
“When it penetrates into daily life with the dimension of human morality, the redemption of the body helps man, above all, to discover the whole good in which he achieves victory over sin.”–Blessed John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, 86:8