6 Lessons on Raising Boys to Become Men

Not every boy is a football jock. Not every boy is bookish. (I was a happy, bookish, "drama geek" who somehow gravitated to martial arts.) Somehow my wife and I raised three wonderful young men who are all different, yet needed the same bits of advice to grow up and become independent, responsible, hard-working men. We are not perfect parents, and this list is certainly far from complete, but here are a few tips we learned along the way. (Actually, some of these ideas are for girls too, but for the most part I had my sons in mind as I wrote this.)

How do you raise boys to become men? Here are a few ideas:

1. Get them outside.

Boys are naturally more rambunctious. They love to virtually "explode" upon the scene by building, climbing, and knocking stuff down. I think every boy I've ever seen has a "truck gene" somewhere inside; whenever they see toy cars or blocks, they immediately make the sound of an engine and it's off to the races with the car or block! (Yes, some girls are rambunctious too. We have raised a daughter too. But girls are definitely different and we need to know that and respect it. Boys in general just naturally like to take more risks and do "dangerous" stuff.)

They break things (some of my boys broke some things I really treasured), so let them break stuff outside! They think they are invincible. Let them play and explore and break and build outside! Get them away from the video games and other electronic devices and let them build forts and climb trees and build ramps for their bikes and skateboards. (Of course this should all be under adult supervision ... if they want to parachute off the roof with an umbrella, I would discourage that.) One of the reasons we have an explosion of childhood obesity in this country is that our kids are discouraged from physical activity!

My mother would send me outside and tell me not to come in unless I was bleeding or on fire. So, we explored the woods and drainage ditches of where I grew up (Savannah, Ga.). We played with snakes and turtles, and played army, and built forts, and played two-hand touch football in the street. Oftentimes we played tackle football at a neighbor's house. Tons of kids played with us. We all got beat up a little bit, but no serious injuries. Get the kids outside!

Camping with the family or joining a scouting organization is wonderful to teach self-reliance and let a boy be a boy. I used to endorse the Boy Scouts of America, but in light of their recent caving to the LGBT agenda, I now endorse Trail Life USA.