Jason B. Ladd

Author | Apologist | Entrepreneur

Boyhood: What It Means In an Age of Mixed Messages


Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is one of the year’s most notable movies. Linklater attempts to capture the total experience of boyhood. and does it well. Boyhood was filmed with same actors over a period of 12 years, giving it an uncommon authenticity.

This is an incredible time to present what it means to be a boy in an age of such confusion about what it means to be a man.

Boyhood includes joyful experiences common to boys today, including:

  • Sharing a beloved song during a car ride
  • Learning how to catch a football
  • Hiking in the mountains

It also delves deep into the common pain experienced by boys today, weaving in themes surrounding:

  • Divorce
  • Remarriage
  • Alcoholism
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Bullying
  • Peer pressure

We are a visual people, and movies are our teachers. A movie such as Boyhood attempts to represent what is normal, and in many ways, it succeeds. The pain of abuse and the tragedy of divorce are all-too-normal in society today.

What else, then, is slipped into the script, waiting to be consumed by the viewer and accepted as the normal way to be and think?

Boyhood shows how boys are exposed to pornography at an early age, and intimates a prophylactic will shield them from the consequences of promiscuity.

But Boyhood fails to show the consequences of developing a strictly secular understanding of sexual love.

Boyhood shows a boy’s developing curiosity about spiritual things. But Boyhood holds court on the boy’s developing worldview with a judgment from his father:

“You’re not becoming one of those God people, are you?”

What boy would continue his search for truth and the knowledge of God after hearing such a question from his father, his hero?

When the boy is older, his father casually reveals,

“I wasn’t the least bit concerned with the state of your soul.”

It’s not spoken in regret, but thrown out as a quip, which, intentionally or not, deflates the importance of spiritual development in a boy’s life.

But the most poignant line comes from the boy’s mother.

After recapping her life in front of her son while he packs for college, she reflects, as if wondering where the time had gone:

“I just thought there would be more.”

There is.

Photo credit: theglobalpanorama / Foter / CC BY-SA

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe will help readers in developing their worldview. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Jason B. Ladd

Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.

2 Replies

  1. Mike Fuller

    Growing up is easy. Eat, drink, sleep. The rest takes care of itself. That is unless there is not much food in the house. Or the water pipes are corroded or leaching lead. Or there is no clean bed to sleep in.

    Then add in a drunken, brutal father or a depressed mother, divorce, financial devastation, disease or sexual abuse and it is darn near a miracle for a boy to survive. And then to do it without faith?

    In my past life I dealt with the men who grew up from boys and made a series of bad decisions. They came from all sorts of backgrounds and many kinds of families. But barring mental illness, few came from homes where at least one parent was loving and provided a faith based environment.

    What defines the limits of a boy’s behavior? At first it is the parents but as the boy grows older he has to understand where those limits on behavior came from. Not everything bad or unkind is a criminal violation of some statute. Many behaviors are legal but result in harm. Without some moral code and consequences what is to stop bad behavior?

    Faith and understanding limits and the consequences of behavior outside of those limits tends to keep a fellow generally within he lines of a decent and productive life. I am lucky to have had two loving parents who provided a good safe home and the faith to guide me into adulthood. Now I can use all of those life experiences to help me add spice and juice and love and humor to my novels.


    1. Sounds like we wer both lucky growing up. But even though I had a good life as a child, I still feel like I need to be a better man.