As my boys grow older, my wife and I are in constant conversation of how to form them into men. It wasn't until we listened to Fr. Ripperger's talk 'How to Raise Men' on Youtube, that we really began to connect the dots.
Fr. Ripperger begins the talk with all the ways that men become effeminate. This comes through self-indulgence, weak wills, too much leisure and so forth. In order for boys to grow up manly - and by manly I mean men that take responsibility for their actions, their body, their mind, their faith - they need hardship.
Hardship is what forms a boy. It develops perseverance (the number one virtue missing in our boys today - just give a boy in school a math problem and watch how quickly they give up), strength of will, strength of body and a sense of accomplishment. This is easier for those that live on a farm. Farm chores need to be done on a daily basis. But how about us folk that live in an urban setting? One can only give so many dish chores. Fr. Ripperger suggests one hour of hard labour a day is needed for the proper development of a boy. Whew! Where do I find this type of work around my house? The solution lies in the second premise: responsibility.
A boy needs to be given responsibility. Responsibility for himself, for others, for property, for work and all with an expectation of excellence. The key is that we want our boys to men that face hardship with barely a shrug. In other words, when a man is a father he commits to a life of sacrifice. But he can't mope every time he has to change a diaper, fix a blown switch, or change a flat bike tire. A man needs to be able to embrace hardship; to run into it without a second thought. If a job needs to be done, you just simply do it because you are the man of the house.
Now, living an urban lifestyle makes this more difficult. With our oldest we have given over the entire lawn care to him for the summer. It must be cut regularly, it must be presentable, toys cleaned off the yard, watered and so forth. For the first few weeks, I'll work with him to demonstrate how I want the work done and then he'll own the project. There are other ways as well. Our oldest son is now signed up for a babysitting course and is taking his role as an older brother to the next level. There is raking, wood splitting, wood stacking, car washing, carpentry work and so forth that needs to do and work on each week (over and above his homeschooling). This can also be accomplished, I think, through music lessons, sports and outdoor pursuits.
This is a new venture for us and the results have been great thus far!
Every morning, he wakes up and heats up a bottle for our youngest. He is doing more and more tasks without complaining as well. He is even taking responsibility for his body and running in the morning on his own. There is still a level of effort that needs to increase as he tends to find the most efficient system or easiest way to get the job done, but we are making progress.
Hardship and responsibility. Life changing principles that make a boy into a man.