Listening to a podcast this morning, I had to rewind several times in order to get this quote down; word for word. This is one professor's interpretation of Soren Kierkegaard:
"There will come a time where we will have so much security and comfort that what we will want more than anything else is deprivation and challenge."
As a school teacher, I'm confronted with this every day...and have been for the last 17 years. What might grind your gears is that, while certainly not unique to boys, this is an issue that particularly effects boys in the middle and high school years; primarily because of the way in which most schools are run and the overprescription of ADHD medication, but there are other factors as well. From a physical and neurological development aspect, boys need the challenge. They need to have some of the unnecessary comforts stripped away and pushed into doing hard things; things they may not initially want to do, but are hardwired to need this challenge in order to thrive.
That's the problem, but what's the answer? I don't know. What I certainly do know is that if we continue down this path, we will continue to raise a culture of "boys who shave" and "men without chests."
One way to push your own sons in this direction is to ensure that they have opportunities to be challenged, not just physically, but cognitively, spiritually, and even morally. Give them regular chances to struggle and grow.
Get your son involved with a martial arts program...a challenging one...one that demands hard work and personal growth on a daily basis.
What's at stake is significant, and we're seeing a lot of it already. We're not losing a generation of boys. No, it's a heck of a lot worse than that. By not pushing them from late elementary through the high school years, we are ensuring that the boys get bigger, but never really grow up. Think on that for a moment, seriously consider the implications. If that doesn't scare the hell out of you, then I'd say you've got a bit of reading to catch up on.
My job (as a teacher and instructor) is not to make your son feel good about himself by throwing unwarranted praise in his direction. My job is to present him with a challenge that, once accomplished, unleashes the pride from within his own soul. Who knows though, I could very well be wrong.