Young boys are often taught that their innate qualities and nature are, in some way, defective, and that they must bury those parts of themselves to fit in to the dominant culture.
While I can’t directly control what my son is explicitly and implicitly taught in school or in the media, I can control the lessons we teach him in our home.
The most important lesson I teach him is that masculinity and men throughout history are heroic. I will ensure that he internalizes this positive message and always remembers it.
He will know that male kings, presidents, emperors, philosophers, poets, artists, scholars, novelists, artisans, builders, farmers, soldiers, fathers, and so many other anonymous hard-working men through millennia, built and shaped our world, and continue to do so.
They created democracy, wrote most of the great works of literature we still study today, refined philosophical thought, created much of the art in our museums, designed and built the great skyscrapers and bridges that are ubiquitous throughout our world, discovered life-saving medications and vaccines that saved untold numbers of lives and alleviated suffering, defeated our enemies and died in horrific numbers keeping our world safe, and lived quiet unassuming lives raising and protecting their families and passing on important lessons to the next generations.
Men throughout history have been and continue to be heroic. This is the message we must teach our boys in our homes because we know that revisionist history wants to focus exclusively on the negatives perpetrated by some men throughout history.
My son and I will continue looking at pictures and videos of American soldiers, many of them so young that under new laws they would not even be allowed to legally purchase cigarettes today, storming the beach at Normandy, and dying by the thousands in the desperate quest to free Europe from the Nazis.
We will watch Civil War movies featuring thousands of young men marching towards each other in formation with full knowledge they would probably be cut down by a musket ball.
We will discuss the role of monks during the Dark Ages who painstakingly hand copied great works of ancient literature, thereby preserving those works for all posterity.
Push Back Against the Cultural Narrative
Modern society today tries to tell boys, like my son, that he is responsible for the ills perpetrated by others in the past. He is given the message that there’s something wrong with him, and that he should sit still, shut up, and comply.
There’s not a chance I will let that happen.
Fathers of sons must counteract these messages that our sons are bombarded with in school, on television, and everywhere else they turn to remind them that masculinity is heroic.
This is why it is so important for fathers to be familiar with history – real history – not the politically correct stories that masquerade as history today. We must be prepared to inspire our sons with tales of heroic men throughout the centuries who, through their actions, built and sustained the world.
At that same time, we as fathers must always demonstrate to our sons our own heroism by forging ahead against the culture by taking care of our bodies and health, improving our minds and spirits, financially providing for our families, and protecting our families in every way possible.
It is up to us to push back against the dominant cultural narrative before our sons internalize its false premise.
If we don’t do it, no one else will.
Never Cede Your Responsibilities to Anyone Else
Our sons must also know that they do not have to do great public acts to be heroic. Countless men throughout the ages and today lived quiet anonymous lives leading and protecting their families and shaping the next generations. They are no less heroic than great leaders of nations.
We go to work, and we know statistically men are far more likely to work in the most dangerous and deadly of occupations, and we provide through the sweat of our brow. We serve as moral teachers, as our guidance helps direct our sons’ innate quest to want to push boundaries and explore. We teach them how to be good at being a man and to be good men (for a greater discussion of the difference between the two, see Jack Donovan’s The Way of Men).
My son and I talk about when violence may be the answer. The fact is that sometimes it may be necessary, but those instances are rare, and must be reserved for proper purposes.
We discuss justice, and what it means; honor, and how to maintain it; true friendship, and how to find it; and marriage and family, and how to find a wife who will be a true complementary partner.
As he grows up, we will continue to discuss what it means to be a man and the responsibility we have to protect our family from all kinds of harm. He will understand that if he acts in certain anti-social ways that there may be consequences. In short, he will learn the lessons that I learned and that generations of boys learned until recent times.
Fathers, our sons are counting on us to encourage their innate curiosity and desire for action. They need us more than ever to teach them how to be men, heroic men, who will lead in the future and help shape the course of world history.
Let us teach them well, and never cede this responsibility to anyone else.
Hunter Drew recently released a wonderful new resource called Fatherhood for Modern Times, which is an actionable guide for fathers today. I have been working through it and finding different strategies to implement in each chapter. It is a multimedia guide and includes a video and audio file for each chapter of the book. Check it out!