There's some debate still, even in our circles, about whether we should be raising our kids to be tough and scrappy or polite and gentile.
And I just don't think it has to be an either/or proposition. Be tough when you need to. Be gentle when appropriate. A Warrior Poet is adept at both.
I was at a party where this debate was perfectly illustrated by a mother who saw her kids wrestling.
She said "No. We don't wrestle." And she didn't only mean "stop wrestling." She also meant that, just in general, we don't wrestle in this house.
It kind of struck us.
The horror, I thought. That's pretty much all we do in our house is wrestle.
That's the main thing. We eat. We sleep (some). And then we mainly wrestle.
We have boys in our house and it's all wrestling all the time and we love it. What it tells us and reminds us is that we are raising warriors, and warriors want to fight.
Don't Pretend Like the World Is Safe
There is a battle raging outside of the home of every boy in America. Right now in our culture, there is an outright attack on what it means to be a boy and a man and the future of our country.
Our culture wants to weaken boys, remove their fight instinct, pacify them with empty pursuits and entertainment, and make the world safe for tyranny.
And it starts with not allowing boys to be boys. To be able to run, and play, and be wild. We're not talking about absolute lawlessness, of course.
We're talking about children who can just be crazy outside for long periods of time. Play with sticks, play with rocks and mud and dirt, and not be shuttled around from activity to activity or be forced to sit still for long periods of time.
Boys need to be allowed to run and shoot Nerf guns and stab you with a plastic or wooden sword and be a knight on an adventure.
What kids innately realize is that the world is not a safe place, and it's not made any safer by weak, pacified, and passive men who play video games instead of living a real adventure.
We don't want to raise up kids who don't feel the freedom and even the mandate to respond purposefully and constructively in a dangerous world. We don't want our kids to live under the illusion that the world is or should be a safe and comfortable place.
We want our kids to be conditioned, trained and equipped to respond to a world that is dangerous in different ways for every generation.
Again. We believe this begins with playing rough and playing outside.
Boys Need to Learn How to Protect and Provide
We're big fans of the famous psychologist Jordan Peterson. He's a clinical psychologist and has observed from years of clinical work just how important rough and tumble play is to the development of boys.
Playing rough isn't what makes criminally violent men. What makes criminals is a plague of fatherlessness. A generation of boys who never learned to use their warrior instincts to protect and provide for the people they love.
Instead, their warrior instinct gets malformed into strains of anger and violence against a world that has victimized them.
There is nothing more dangerous than a man who claims victimhood and lashes out the world who has wounded him. And men like these most often come from homes where fathers never taught or demonstrated what it means to be a man and a warrior.
Without a man there to model "This is how you love your family. This is how you love God. This is how you protect and provide. Here's where you be gentle. Here's where you be strong," the men in our society live by instinct and craving, using their warrior side for their own selfish purposes.
This can only end poorly.
Boys Need to Learn to Fight and Win the Right Battles
Violence has become a dirty word in western culture in recent decades. But guess what: we're born into a world at war and the world will always have war, regardless of what imaginary utopian bubble you try to create around yourself.
We don't live in a world where giving into Vladimir Putin makes him into a nice guy or where allowing people to riot and burn and loot and beat people up corrects problems of racial inequality.
By the way, it'd be interesting to do a study of how many Antifa activists were allowed to wrestle in their home and have Nerf wars with their families. I could probably venture a pretty accurate guess without doing the surveys.
This is why we don't want to coddle our children, lest they grow up to be fat, weak and worthless individuals crying about their feelings rather than being able to boldly stand up and contribute to society and carry the burdens of others and themselves.
Those are the battles worth fighting–not the ones that allow you to walk into Target and steal the television you think you deserve.
Don't Just Protect Them. Prepare Them.
We want to prepare them, not just protect them. And that means making them tough. And part of making them tough means, hey, they're going to have fight club in our house.
And yes. Our boys have started a Fight Club on the trampoline for hours almost every day.
Obviously this isn't a license for them to be stupid and get mamed or crippled. There are reasonable limits you have to set for your kids.
But it's important that we don't put them in padded, sensory depriving environments.
Out on the trampoline or in the yard or the woods is where the kids learn how to handle each other and how to treat each other and where the limits are. Without this, there are some kids who won't know the limits, they won't know how to control themselves.
And our goals in all of this are these:
For our kids to love God, love people, and be protectors, leaders, and providers. That's something that we want our young men to be one day, and we are trying to figure out how to instill this in them.
And so our question is, what things are going to set them up for that now? What do they need now? What is their little spirit craving? What have they been designed to do that they need to do to develop to be who they're supposed to be?
Invite Them into an Epic Story
Nearly every single night we have epic story time. It's daddy reading time. And we go through the great illustrated classics.
I would encourage you to buy a bunch of those. And if you can get them at Goodwill instead of Amazon or somewhere else, you can sometimes pick them up for super cheap.
But the truth is, we are part of an epic story, and these books like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Treasure Island, War of the Worlds, and Call of the Wild are adventures that fill their hearts with a longing for the bigger adventure that God has called them into.
These books, the wrestling matches, Fight Club, and all the other education opportunities in the rough and tumble ways of the world – these are all hints of the real thing, the real fight worth fighting. The real adventure worth having. The real dragons worth slaying. So when our little warriors face the real thing one day, they won't back down.
Train Hard. Train Smart. Train Your Kids to Become Warriors, Too.