This is a great thread! I don’t have much time right now to write a detailed or organized post, but this is something I am very passionate about as a mother. My father died was I was young and I was an only child, no men or boys otherwise in my small family, but I really like the way my husband turned out so I’m always picking his brain, reading advice from saints close to our times, and including applicable secular advice (which is often from 50 years+ back).
My husband tells me sports is a big one for boys to learn to work as a team, have humility, develop physically, learn discipline, and especially the important lesson of resilience, getting back up when we are knocked down instead of wallowing. Of course sports can get in the way of church later on, especially at the competitive level and if they have games on Sundays, etc, but if one can find the right balance, I think they definitely have their place. He got to a high level, and it’s very obvious playing for years gave him a great foundation for strength, dexterity, and health even years later. I’m referring to baseball specifically, but also probably hockey and soccer fall into this category. Not American football, for various reasons. It’s also important to give boys opportunities to experience injuries/pain and overcome it. I guess that’s controversial these days, but when he was a kid, they set serious (compound?) fractures by telling you “this is gonna hurt” and pulling on both sides of the bone to set it, no pain meds . He finished out games with a dislocated ankle, thumb, fractures, etc.
Sadly, we lost a ton of wisdom and guidance since my husband’s parents died of natural causes before we met. We wish they were around to guide us. His dad was a really smart guy, along the lines of engineering, and he had tons of tools my husband got to use from a young age. They rebuilt car engines together, played with motors, did most car repairs at home. He would explain why problems happened, but also gave his son opportunities to figure things out in his own. My husband was chopping down trees in the backyard starting at 9, as he got older he got to use a chainsaw, work with fire, etc. Where we live, there’s no age limit to getting a boating license, kids will go out on their own at 12 if they know what they’re doing, which is what he did. Many opportunities for independence and figuring things out for themselves. Fishing is another great hobby for boys, there are so may directions they can go in (competitive bass fishing, learning knots, dissembling and maintaining reels, creating molds and pouring their own plastics for lures, building rods, figuring out techniques and multiple variables). We have all the Larry Dahlberg DVDs for when the kids are a little older, he is known for catching big fish all over the world and making his own stuff. He said when he was 9, his dad would leave him at a lake in a row boat with some sandwiches and waters and he’d stay out there overnight, watching how the little creatures and fish moved and interacted together. I remember he said “I don’t think it would be legal these days” lol.
Here are some articles where he talks about his childhood. I can’t find the one about the lake and boat right now because it looks like Google changed their results again, but I’ll post it when I do:
Our guest today needs no introduction but I’m going to give him one anyway. He is well known as a fisherman, guide, TV Show host, Lure Designer and Big Fish Catcher. During his television career, he traveled countless miles and fished in 87 countries around the globe. During that time, he fished...
Blane Chocklett truly eats, breathes, and sleeps fly fishing. For those of us who fly fish, Blane is living the dream. One of the fly fishing industry's most forward-thinking and innovative anglers, Blane pioneered the Game Changer style of fly design, co-developing the Articulated Fish-Spine...
From his mother, my husband learned how to be an amazing cook (and Glory to God because I needed the guidance), she let him and his sister make their own creations from around 5+ and experiment with flavors and seasoning, it was a bonding time to be in the kitchen. She was really funny and a great story teller, admired soldiers and strong men in her family. There were some notable military men on her side of the family and she loved telling him what they accomplished or watching documentaries to see if they could find them in old footage. He got his soft character traits from her.
It is really hard to achieve this in the modern world, at least in America. Every single institution for developing boys has been, in my opinion, targeted for subversion and destruction. Boy Scouts*, the military, etc. I was shocked that kids can’t go to junkyards anymore, 18+, because of liability issues! Can’t even help your father pull parts for a project. So it really comes down to being creative, finding likeminded people, and the balancing act of mom and dad’s influence, along with a lot of prayer of course. Navigating “insurance and liability” issues that didn’t really exist in the past is the trickiest part, so it helps if you can do things at home/on private land.
Other books I like are: American Boys Handibook, The Boy Electrician, The Boy Carpenter, Boy Scouts books from the 1950s, and Dover published experiments for kids.
We do a ton of projects at home and involve all the kids as much as possible. Kids have helped demo a house, use a crowbar to pull up old wood floors (5 years old), paint, drill (toddler’s favorite toy lol), install baseboards with a nail gun, rebuild a dock, go to work with dad on plumbing calls, diagnose and fix our old AC, build a chicken coop out of a shed kit with modifications, fix leaf blowers/generators/lawn mowers, mow lawns as soon as the boys can push em, install windows, change brakes/oil/tires, smoke meats, anything and everything, and especially when it’s a new skill we show them how you’re going to make lots of mistakes and suck at it, but in the long term it will make you more proficient.
Well, I said it wasn’t going to be detailed but here it is
*We went to a local one years ago to see how it was… it was led by a single mom and she had her daughter in the troop. Umm… not what we were looking for. They watched videos about internet safety and movies at the camp sites. Your mileage may vary. Very sad because I have some Boy Scouts manuals from the 1950s and they are awesome!! If anyone’s interested I can post the titles later. Haven’t looked into Trail Life yet, but it’s on the list.