Mark Hancock, Trail Life USA

Unleashing the Inner Adventurer

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

I asked my 23 year old visiting son what fathering topic he most felt I had the chops to share. He said something like, “Dad, you let us push the adventure envelope. You weren’t afraid to let us take risks.”

Having raised two sons and now leading an outdoor adventure, character, and leadership ministry with over 30,000 boys in all 50 states, I reasoned that maybe he was right. From my seat I worry about a generation of boys that are in danger of growing into unproductive narcissists. Unproductive because we don’t expect anything of them and narcissists because we don’t let them fail.

In our effort to keep boys safe and to protect their self-esteem we may be fostering a sense that we don’t think they can be brave; that they can’t overcome encountered obstacles, or they can’t use failure as a springboard to work harder and try again.

With the greatest number of young men living at home since we started counting,, we’ve got to wonder what part fathers play in making the world seem just a bit too scary. Risk and competition are built-in motivators and drivers of boys. Some would say they are why most significant historic societal advancements have been accomplished by focused men who dared to do things like storm the beaches at Normandy, cross an uncharted ocean, or strap themselves into the capsule on top of a rocket pointed at the heavens.

In a fast-changing world that demands resilience, innovation, and adaptability, it is crucial for fathers to help provide opportunities for exploration and risk-taking. Through adventure and calculated risks, boys learn to overcome obstacles, think critically, and embrace challenges with an open mind. So, dads, instead of frustrating them by restraining their adventurous nature, this summer let’s foster a spirit of exploration and instill in our sons a thirst for discovery! 

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