A silly boy is disgusting and repulsive, because he is the antithesis of all that is attractive in a male. There is no age at which silliness is normal. It is in all circumstances inappropriate. How many times have you heard people say it, “Don’t be silly”? All of my readers could mimic the tone at which it is always uttered—a hurried, dismissive, embarrassment, carrying a presumption that it is out of place and most unbecoming.

Almost every boy will get silly from time to time. Mine did. Thankfully, it was passing, and not characteristic of them as a whole. But there are some boys who retreat behind a clown’s mask of silliness. They adopt it as the persona of their social self. The sillier they are, the more they are rejected, and with further rejection comes more silliness, a make-believe world where all is laughter and irresponsible indulgence. Their fool’s paradise is a retreat where no demand can be placed upon them and where they can take the stage as somebody else, hoping to get a laugh or at least create one for themselves. Silliness is a wall against transparency, a rejection of responsibility, and a denial of accountability. It is a drug, a high, a continuous party mentality, a thoughtless denial of tomorrow.

I was in grade school in the fifties and started high school in 1959. I don’t remember any really silly boys, not like today’s crowd of them. The average church in America has a parade of silly fools. Public schools must be giving the boys silly pills.

So, if your son is generally silly, what can you do to make a man of him? Start by killing his role models. Hollywood schools the kids into silliness with their goofy entertainment. I don’t know the names of some of the characters I have briefly seen, but as I sit here, I recall a ridiculous grinning fool, dressed in flowery clothes, showing overly large teeth and gums, with a slobbery way of talking, making contorted faces and dancing around giggling like he had just had his brain replaced with bubble gum. I have never viewed anything with him in it, but I have caught a glimpse of him on several occasions, and he is always accompanied by several big-busted babes who must have failed the second grade and decided not to pursue any higher education. These are the idols of our present generation. Commercials, movies, radio and TV programming represent men as blundering fools and women as wise and in control.

In my youth, Tarzan, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry were the entertainment models of maleness. I watched them and went outside to swing on a vine, shoot a BB gun, throw a knife, and dare the bad guys to molest the fair maidens; they would have to answer to me. Today, after kids watch the media, whatever sort it may be, they go to the mall to play the fool. If you allow your boys to be exposed to “funny” fools—fools that you find entertaining—how can you expect them to be any different?

Parents don’t seem to know what the advertisers know—“monkey see, monkey do”. Companies pay millions of dollars to display a role model on the screen drinking their brand or wearing their shoes. If kids are not influenced by what they see on the screen, the advertisers are spending billions of dollars foolishly. Morals are continually being eroded, and the sacred is becoming profane on the digital screen. Hollywood injects their philosophy into the fiber optic catheter at their end, and you insert the digital needle into the veins of your children on your end every time you let them watch a perverse Hollywood flick, G-rated or not. Their hearts and minds are receiving daily infusions directly from the veins of queers, fornicators, atheists, evolutionists, and irreverent fools.

But media is not the only fountain of foolishness. Understand that it takes a certain context to be silly. When two friends encourage each other in stupidity, separate them until they mature. But you can’t save your child from being a fool just by preventing bad company. Put a boy in a man’s world and his foolishness will go the way of baby talk and wet diapers. Daddy and his friends will respond to foolishness like they would a cat licking its XXX. Try that nonsense in their presence and no one will be entertained. They will look at the kid like “What’s his problem?” and then return to their conversation. The cold critical looks of three men will do more to slap the sillies out of a kid than all the lectures in the world.

Silliness can only exist in a responsibility vacuum. A man (or boy) who is given responsibilities and is committed to performing his duty will never be silly. Where there is self-respect, there will be sobriety and dignity. When a kid knows he is valued for his participation in life’s duties, he will respect himself too much to play the fool. The boy who feels worthless is the one who seeks attention by opening his mouth wide like a toilet seat to display his chewed food. The kid who sits in church during communion and gets another kid’s attention by pretending to choke on the bread is one who has no real life of any consequence. He is disconnected from reality. To him, nothing is serious because nothing is real. He is not a real or active part of society. He is on the outside making faces through the window. One must contribute to be a member, and only members have responsibilities. An irresponsible child has been left out of life. He has been set aside like a bothersome child rather than made an apprentice to manhood.

A hungry child is never silly. A child in pain is sober. A child who just stacked a cord of fire wood is as serious as a veteran home from the war. A man and a boy walking out of the woods together carrying the game “they” bagged are a fellowship of men. A six-year-old boy who just tightened the screws on the doorknob again is grave and manly. He walks straight and would not demean himself by acting the fool. A boy who is talked to, but not talked down to, will maintain a social presence that earns him the right to adult conversation.

A child who respects other people will not play the court jester at inappropriate times. Our worldviews are mirrored in our demeanors. A silly kid is revealing his lack of regard for what other people think is worthy of sobriety. You will gain a child’s respect and thus create in him a reason to maintain his dignity in your presence by being interested in him as a person and sharing your life and work with him. Build camaraderie with him and you cause the kid to adopt your perspective, invalidating useless silliness which doesn’t get him the kind of attention he now values from the people whom he values. Silliness fills a vacuum in a boy’s soul. Don’t allow that vacuum to exist.

I began by saying that silly boys are public proof of a father’s neglect and of a mother’s indulgence. I have addressed the father’s responsibility. Now, please sit down, mothers.

When a son is over-indulged by his mother, and criticized by his sisters, he will be silly. Pay attention. A boy, at any age, is an incomplete man, with all the ego of a man. God designed man for a purpose. If he is deprived of opportunity to fulfill his natural role, he will be self-loathing—which is self-love turned on itself. If mother keeps her son close to her bosom, not allowing him to be a man, perhaps expecting him to be more like the girls in temperament, he will not be fulfilled as a human being and will express his self-disgust by acting in many disgusting ways.

It is often the case that a father is distant to his son, or the father is critical and rejects the boy. Perhaps he is disgusted with the silliness and girlishness of the kid. Mother sees her son’s hurt and draws him to her love, heaping positive affirmation on his wounds. He willingly comes for reassurance, but he will not be fulfilled as a man. His silliness will eventually turn to foolishness. Mother, release your son from your emotional guard. Let him walk or fall as may be. Give him responsibilities, and do not pity him. The frame of mind that you must adopt is that you are going to work yourself out of a job as soon as possible. Your job is to harden him up and make him tough, and then to release him back to the wild to fend for himself. By puberty, you must have transferred much of the command to your son. The man you get back will be far more satisfying to you as a mother than the boy you attempted to preserve.

Silliness can pass with maturity, but if it becomes chronic in the five- to ten-year-old boys, it turns to foolishness. A fool is one who lives without a consciousness of reality. He lacks understanding and imagines the world to be without rules or consequences. Nothing is sacred. He is unaware of danger. He doesn’t prepare for tomorrow, yet he won’t deny himself any pleasure. The fool will talk as if he is an authority on a subject of which he knows nothing. Fools make a mockery of sin and brush off warnings.

Here is a study you can do with your young children, boys and girls together. Get a Strong’s complete concordance and locate the 115 times that the word “fool” appears in the Bible—King James Version. Read all 115 passages with your children, allowing them to give their interpretation of each one. Do five every school day, and it will take you one month to go through them all. I guarantee you that you will see a difference in your children. The fool will be worked out of them through the word of God.

If you are a fatherless household, there are two things you can do. Find a worthy man who will allow your son to work with him, even one time a week. You will know he is a worthy man if his grown children rise up and call him blessed and they exemplify what you want your son to become. Secondly, provide contexts and circumstances for your son to succeed—at anything. Encourage him in different endeavors until several things stick. A kid that plays musical instruments should also take martial arts or archery. I have never seen a silly boy who was also good at throwing knives and hatchets, carpentry, mechanics, or lawn care. It is rare indeed to see a hardworking kid act silly.

Responsibility and fellowship are the two key words. If you see to it that your young men identify with serious people, they will be serious. If they develop a will to suffer the pain of work, they will never suffer from silliness. You can do it, mother. It won’t be any harder for you, a single mother, than it is for the lady whose husband is emotionally absent or is abusive to the children. If there is no man in the family, make one of your son by the time he is eight years old, and you will have a male presence and perspective in the home that both you and he can recognize.