5 Things We Want Our Boys to Become

  1. To be able to enjoy girls and women without having to control or possess them.
  2. To have meaningful and vulnerable relationships with other males.
  3. To have a lively internal life of reflection, meditation, and imagination.
  4. To respect elders and to become an elder worthy of respect.
  5. To channel passion and energy toward creative betterment of one’s community.


Earlier this week I was included on a group email from CMCer Matthew Leahy.  His young son is currently undergoing chemo treatment.  Matthew was reflecting on his son’s gentleness.  His gentleness, even while facing this awful disease.  The gentleness of this boy, in contrast to the deluge of male sexually predatorial behavior now coming to light across the country.

He posed this question: “How do we keep our boys precious, loving what is good, loving beauty, feminist. And yes, loving women in the purest way possible.  Is it possible?”

Later in the day the deluge continued when I came across more disheartening news.  Two Mennonite pastors who I know personally were recently charged with and confessed to sexual misconduct.  These were separate incidences.

In his message, Matthew turned his question into an aspiration and challenge.  A campaign: “5 Things We Want Our Boys to Become.”  As parents, grandparents, mentors, uncles and aunts, and citizens, how do we answer this question?

The list above was my first crack at a response.

Of course these aspirations are not just for our boys, but for ourselves.  To hold our power in ways that uplift others rather than degrade.  To live as sexual beings within the commitments and boundaries that make for healthy relationships.  To be the kind of person we hope the beloved boys in our lives might become.

With Matthew’s permission I am passing along his challenge and campaign.  If any of you wish to send me your list of “5 Things We Want Our Boys to Become” I will add it to the end of this blog post on our website and include a link in a future blog for folks to view updates.  If you can’t come up with 5, send what you’ve got.