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A big part of raising teens is discussion. Reading thought-provoking books with teens helps us address their deep issues and teach them a healthy worldview. Currently, I’m reading Wild at Heart by John Eldredge with my sons. It’s stimulating some great discussion and healing from issues unique to the single parent family.
I first read this book when my sons were small. I didn’t understand men very well, and I wanted to give my boys every opportunity to develop a healthy, Biblical male identity. Wild at Heart shaped my approach to raising sons, as well as helping me teach my daughter about boys. If you’re raising sons alone, you need this book.
John Eldredge explores men’s experiences in a culture that simultaneously emasculates men and berates them for not being men. Even in the church, he explains, men are asked to trade their innate fire for something tamer:
At a recent church retreat I was talking with a guy in his fifties… about his own journey as a man. “I’ve pretty much tried for the last twenty years to be a good man as the church defines it.” Intrigued, I asked him to say what he thought that was. He paused for a long moment. “Dutiful,” he said. “And separated from his heart" (p. 7).
Sad, huh? I don’t want that for my sons. I want them to be fully men, as modeled by Jesus, the outrageous, merciful, radical liberator of the soul.
Eldredge takes men on a journey of reconnection with their heart. He describes the angst men feel as they are tacitly forbidden to express their inborn need to fight for justice, rescue a beauty, and live an adventure. He describes the devastating “father wound” that virtually every man receives (because there are no perfect dads); and leads the reader to the throne of God the Father, where healing flows.
If you want to offer your son a new vision for his manhood, give him this book. If he wants you to, read it with him. Pray through it, and watch God use it to help him grow.
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