Helping the High-Testosterone Child

by James Rudy Gray

Red and yellow, black and while, they are precious in His sight."

Kids are different but kids are still kids. Christian people have different personalities but generally those who really know Christ and believe His Word will share the same basic values. How can parents instill those values into the lives of their children? We can teach. We can model. We can provide a godly atmosphere. We can protect them. We can nurture and discipline them. We can understand their personality, adapt to their particular bent, and teach them in word and, most importantly, in deed, the values of our faith. We can do many things for our children and live many truths before them, but we cannot live for them

James McBride Dabbs is a professor of psychology at Georgia State University. He published a book dealing with testosterone and how it affects behavior. "Fearlessness and high testosterone," he observed, "often go together, with fearlessness making it easier for a high-testosterone person either to mistreat others or to help them. If we want to know whether fearless people will be helpful or harmful, we need to know the values that motivate them." He further notes that it seems likely that bold and fearless children are probably high in testosterone. He concludes, "Core values have much to do with whether a high-testosterone individual will be a hero, a criminal, or both."

By some estimates, males have as much as 20 to 30 times more testosterone than females have. Little boys are typically more into aggressive types of play than little girls. The Bible has encouragement for parents who have the privilege and opportunity of raising more hyper or fearless children. Proverbs 29:15 says: "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother." Proverbs 22:6 relates how we must customize our child rearing practices to match the bent or personality of the child: "Train up a child in the way he should go (i.e. according to his bent or personality type), "Even when he is old he will not depart from it." Children are different and each one must be related to in a different manner, but with the same values.

Parenting is hard work. Our society does not as a whole embrace biblical principles such as honesty and holiness. What can parents do if they find themselves trying to parent a bold and fearless child? It requires following the same principle of bringing up that child according to his particular bent or temperament-but with more patience and perhaps more time and understanding. He can learn the values of God. When he does it will make a difference in his life and it will shape him toward more godly character.

Sometime during adolescence, our children may appear to be rejecting who we are and what we believe. Some may actually be rejecting us, but for most teenagers it is a rite of passage. During this time, they most often are searching for their own independence and identity. This cannot come into realization for them if the apron strings are not loosened and eventually cut altogether. If Christian parents have loved their kids, lived before them authentic lives, and taught them Christian values, the time of transition will not be nearly as traumatic or dramatic. More often than not, kids will generally grow up to have the same basic values as their parents.

Helping our kids become helpful and responsible adults means giving them the attention they need, the discipline they deserve, the love they want, and the values that will influence the kind of character they will have.

The challenge of being effective parents is largely answered through a consistent walk with Christ and an unswerving devotion to godly values that are neither distorted by legalism nor perverted by liberalism. What kids may miss in their parents' teaching they will certain catch as they observe their parents' lives.

James Rudy Gray, who pastors Utica Baptist Church in Seneca, S.C., is certified as a professional counselor by the National Board for Certified Counselors, and is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors.