I often tell people that I don't really remember much about my childhood. The truth is, I don't. Sure, I remember some of things I used to do on a regular basis, like go to the City pool or play at the Little League baseball field. But I honestly don't have very many memories of my childhood like many of you reading this probably do. It's not that my upbringing was abnormal or nearly as difficult as some I've met throughout the years, because I honestly believe I had a good childhood. Frankly, I think it's exactly the opposite. I had TOO MANY good memories to remember them all!
The boyhood phase, as Eldredge describes it, is the most definitive period in a boy's life. It's the time when he learns how to be a male, and the one who shows him how to do this is either his father or an older male who plays a prominent role in his everyday life. In short, this man shows the boy that he is the Beloved Son. Although the boy's real father is the most preferable male to play this role, Eldredge doesn't limit this role so specifically. Many boys live without their real fathers, so it's impossible to believe that a boy can't go through this phase without being raised by that ONE person. A grandfather, uncle, stepfather, or even neighbor could easily provide the boy with the masculine contact needed to feel loved and cared for.
Eldredge tells the story of how his father "checked out" of his life and the lasting effect it had on him. Despite being there in body, he was absent in mind and spirit. His father's alcoholism took the purity of boyhood from him and the scars are still present in his life. This has happened to many men; however, I'm so thankful to say that it's not something I can sympathize with. While I cannot look back on the memory of my ol' pal dad teaching me how to ride a bike (big sisters checked that box for me), there is one moment with him that I will forever cherish. He took me to the old intramural field at Carson Newman and threw BP to me until his arm was about to fall off. The smile on his face every time I hit one past him showed me that I was his Beloved Son.