MRS: Is He Tough Enough?

MRS: Is He Tough Enough?

MRS artwork

Is He Tough Enough?

Manhood requires a certain level of toughness. The greater a man’s purpose and the more he seeks to achieve the tougher he will have need to be. Some men are tougher than others in general. They can also be tougher in one area than they are in another, but real manhood requires toughness. Now let’s not get toughness confused with roughness, rigidity, or mere physical strength.  In my book, When I Became a Man, A Perspective on Manhood, Life and Relationships, I make a distinction between tough and “hard”. Everyone who is “hard” by today’s definition is not necessarily tough by the standards of true manhood. Some of our boys are considered soft, but show real toughness that is undetected by people with a narrow perspective.

By definition when something or someone is tough they are not easily broken, weakened, or defeated. Toughness is durability. It is the ability to withstand adverse conditions without being diminished. ESPN basketball analyst, Jay Bilas, in his book, Toughness, says, “Toughness isn’t physical. It has nothing to do with size, strength, or athleticism. It’s an intangible, an attitude, and a philosophy. Some people may be born with the aptitude to be tougher than others, but I believe that true toughness is a skill that can be developed and improved in anyone. “

Toughness comes in different forms, physical, mental, emotional and dispositional. Each type will have its own threshold.

Here are a few things to consider concerning toughness when raising your son:

Toughness is a developed trait

Earlier we quoted Jay Bilas. He said, “… True toughness is a skill that can be developed and improved in anyone.” Watch your son. Discern where he has natural toughness. It might be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual (determination). Develop what he has. Help improve what he doesn’t. Team sports, accelerated academics, and DIY projects are good ways to develop toughness. Allow the negative consequences from bad decisions to play out when appropriate and do not overly shield him from personal pain or difficulty. Remember durability has to be tested in order for it to be trusted.

 True toughness is from the root

“The wind cannot defeat the tree with strong root.” That is a quote from the movie, The Revenant. I live in Central Florida. I have been through at least 3 hurricanes. It doesn’t take much wind to blow leaves and branches. It takes a very strong wind to uproot a tree with deep roots. The sooner you begin to develop toughness in your son the better. The starting point should be the security that comes from being loved, cared for and supported. Security helps build strength. Help your son build his by not overburdening him with adult stuff.

 There are levels of toughness

I don’t consider myself the toughest guy in the world. I will say I’ve hung in there in some very difficult times. I have stood up when I wanted to lie down, and with the help of God and the support of my family and friends I have endured and I am determined to be and become what is purposed for me. There are many men tougher than me. I am not tough enough to play professional football even if I could run, throw and catch on a pro level. Some people have nerves of steel. Stress takes it toll on my physical health. The point is toughness is not static. It is dynamic. Different people have varying degrees of toughness. As parents we pay attention so we can learn the capacities of our sons and work to expand them.

Work with your son. Life is tough. He will have to be as well.


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