Cold Doesn’t Bother Me Anyway

April 10th, 2014 by | Print

Since when did it become fashionable for teenage boys to stop wearing a coat in extremely cold weather? I know it’s been the winter of “Frozen” and “the cold doesn’t bother me anyway” but I’ve noticed more young men discarding their coats when they should be piling on more layers. Guys have been doing crazy things to validate their masculinity since the beginning of time, but freezing your butt off and acting like it’s no big deal feels like a whole new level of ridiculousness.

This morning I took my 13-year old son to his lacrosse game and the field was covered with a blanket of white frost. It was around 32 degrees and he was going out to play with only a short-sleeved jersey and shorts. I instructed him to get his coat on and he replied that he doesn’t want to be “soft” or “weak”. This is teenage boy code for “if you make me do this I will become the laughingstock of my team and you will singlehandedly ruin my life forever”. I quickly informed him that there was zero correlation between being warm and his masculinity so we settled on him putting on some under armor.

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed a 12-year old coatless kid leave my basketball practice into 20 degree weather after a couple of hours of heavy sweating. After a few steps into the frigid temps, he turned back to his friends with a big smile on his face and said proudly “look at me…I’m a man.” His friends gave him a few “attaboys” to confirm his proclamation. It seems like the definition of manhood has sunk to an all-time low these days.

This was confirmed when I recently did a writers workshop with a group of middle school students. As an exercise, I asked them to take a minute and write down their definition of a man. The kids did a pretty good job and there were a couple of real gems but for the most part their description of manhood was fairly uniform and pretty stereotypical: tough, successful, protector, provider, etc. I didn’t hear a lot of what I would consider to be the higher human qualities to strive for, such as loving, wise, generous, leader, courageous, godly, faithful and selfless.

There’s no doubt the manhood bar has been set pretty low and there’s a lot of confusion out there about what it means to be a man. Our teenagers desperately need to hear a clear and compelling manhood definition that creates a foundation for their future. Young men need to learn a code of conduct and the actions of a man so they enter high school with a compass to guide them through the maze of adolescence.

A couple of years ago I wrote a book called “Man Quest: Leading Teenage Boys into Manhood” for just this reason. So any dad can sit down with his teenage school son and give him a roadmap to manhood. A young man should never have to wonder if he has what it takes to become a man. And if he chooses not to wear his coat in the frigid temperatures it will be because he already feels warm and insulated.

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