As our boys grew, we worked to strike the delicate balance between tempering their natural instincts to plunder and destroy with the constraints of living in civilized society (and also of living in the house with a mother who appreciates the toilet seat in the down position). One of the main benefits of having both a mother and a father in the home is that both perspectives exist in a delicate balance within the marriage to moderate the natural extremes of the sexes. I instinctively wanted to protect the boys and, left to my own devices, would have been overprotective. My husband naturally gravitated toward allowing them to explore, fall down, take their knocks and learn life’s lessons the hard way. The goal was always to turn out men. Not some feminized, politically correct, egalitarian version of manhood, but in keeping with their genetically driven impulses and God-given natures, we determined to encourage them to defy current societal pressures and become real, masculine men.
So my husband tossed them around and wrestled with them in ways that terrified me. As they hurtled toward adolescence and surges of testosterone entered the mix, their roughhousing seemed brutal to me. Elaborate wrestling matches were staged on the backyard trampoline. At times I was afraid to peer out the window at the pyrotechnic displays in my backyard (you can burn THAT?). We agreed (for my sanity) on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about some of the dangers encountered on the father-son camping trips. My husband, who grew up with a houseful of boys, assured me this was “normal” male behavior and they survived.
Of course, we didn’t just teach them about the physical side of being men. We taught them responsibility, integrity, hard work, honor, respect for others, and chivalry. Faith was an integral component in their upbringing. Without these important lessons, all boys are at risk of turning into men who give in to their aggressive natures to the point that they engage in antisocial or even dangerous behaviors.
Through all of this, we clearly taught our boys that they were never, ever to play roughly with girls. We knew a time would come that they would be bigger and stronger than the girls and they needed to know that they were to never lay a hand on a girl. In this day and age of political correctness and federally mandated gender equity, this may sound “unfair” or antiquated, but the inconvenient truth is that the process of civilizing young men involves taming their aggressive instincts. If we want them to learn to treat a woman with respect, they must be taught that overpowering her with their physical strength is never acceptable. At the same time, they must learn that their physical size and strength are gifts that can and should be used to protect their families and property in the event of danger. Controlled strength is a sign of maturity and integrity.
As we find ourselves on the cusp of women on the front lines of combat, we must ask some important questions about how we will raise boys in the future in light of this decision.