rebelling against low expectations

Ann Voskamp: A Letter to My Son


I met Ann Voskamp at Patrick Henry College in September of 2011. She was there for a public interview with Marvin Olasky for WORLD Magazine and the coffee shop crowd was overflowing into the lobby. We all strained to hear the soft-spoken words of this homeschooling mother of six, this gentle wordsmith, who was championing gratitude for even the smallest of God’s good gifts.

After the interview I stood in line to greet her, to thank her for her work, and to give her a copy of Do Hard Things for her teenage children. Upon reaching the front of the line I experienced a very pleasant case of role reversal. I thought I was the excited “fan” getting to meet a modern hero of the faith — but Ann seemed just as excited to meet me! Their family loved our book, she told me, and her children would be so jealous. We snapped a picture and she had to leave.

Since that meeting I have been repeatedly blessed by Ann’s blog, A Holy Experience, and by her example of quiet faithfulness despite being caught up in a whirlwind of ministry she wasn’t expecting or even looking for. Most recently I was riveted by her article in the aftermath of the Steubenville trial — as she wrote to her son about what it means to be a man. Here are some high points:

  • When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys — girls will be garbage.
  • Unless a man looks to Jesus, a man doesn’t know how to treat a woman.
  • Real Manhood never objectifies women. Real Manhood edifies women.
  • Real Manhood means you don’t get drunk, and a man can get drunk on a lot more than alcohol.
  • Real Manhood means peer pressure only makes you stronger in Christ.
  • Real Manhood means you take responsibility for your body.
  • Real Men never pressure but treasure.
  • Real Men of God are men for the hurting.

Ann’s article makes it clear that God loves, honors, defends, and affirms His daughters — and how real men do the same. She shows us the ugliness of boys being boys, gives us hope that there are still a few good men, and what we must do to join their ranks. Please read it to the end.

Dear Son,

When you’re the mother of four sons, Steubenville is about us.

Steubenville is about having a conversation with sons about hard things and asking you to do holy things.

Because a Steubenville doesn’t begin with football and it doesn’t begin with alcohol and it doesn’t begin with unsupervised jocks with inflated egos and shriveled morals. It begins with one woman bringing home a man-child in her arms, one mama unwrapping that blanket and what it means to raise up a man.

It begins with one mama looking into her son’s eyes for the next 18 years and showing him what it means to be a woman.

I brought you home when I was 21.

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About the author

Brett Harris

is co-founder of and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.

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rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →