The ancient lords living in Babylon had it made. The capital city provided every pleasure imaginable. Every decadence was at ones beckoning. In ancient Egypt it was the same for the ruling class. If you were on the top levels of society anything you wanted was a finger snap away. The same was true in Greece and in its turn Rome.
The men who ruled civilization had the best of everything, every food, intoxicant, and every sexual pleasure was available at any time. Life is good when you are on the top. How did these men get to be on the top? At first they got there by starting at the bottom and as a result of their values, hard work and some sword play they clawed their way to the top. When you have it that good it's only natural to want to leave it to your sons.
The problem was that as they looked around at their sons they didn't like what they saw. It seems that luxury and vice as a boy breeds lazy and incompetent men.
The Egyptians came up with a system where the sons of the pharaoh, the nobles, the priests were schooled together without regard for rank. The boys played together, worked on school assignments, and engaged in the training required to run Egypt. When it was time for the next generation to take over, they knew (in theory) which of their classmates were able and reliable men that could be trusted to administer the kingdom. In a sense this system still exists today. Certain elite prep schools are known for getting their graduates in to specific ivy league schools. Those top universities are then the selecting grounds for government and corporate leadership.
The Babylonians had a slightly different approach. The motto was that a boy should "ride, shoot straight and speak the truth". That might sound more like something John Wayne would say, but they said it first. The program worked by sending the sons away form the capital. Then the boy's tutors would train them to live off very little food, work very hard, endure hardship and learn to be "real men". When they were older they would return to their fathers side and work with him, learning his duties so that when he retired/died they would be ready to fill his job.
Every culture has had a method and a rite of passage for boys to become respectable men. The bible has passages about how to raise children. The Greek city states each had their own program. In more modern times military service and apprenticeship did the job. In the British navy everyone was subject to ships discipline. The young prince or nobleman's son was read into the service, after which if he screwed up in his duties, he found himself stripped out of his breeches, bent over a cannon and receiving a dozen stripes from the bos'n mate's cane. 20 years latter that boy might be running the whole admiralty with several fleets of ships at his disposal. His views on the navy weren't based on watching TV. He knew what it was to be cold, tired and to have the ships company see his ass whipped red for falling down on the job.
The American Indian had their rituals. The Jews have the bar mitzvah. What do American boys have? They used to have military service. My grandfathers proved their manhood in World War II. My father had Viet Nam. My generation had Pac-Man high score. We had sports and scouts and some of us hunt and climb mountains etc but by and large the rites of man hood are gone. We sort of have rites of passage. "Sort of" is exactly the right descriptive. Graduation form high school is "sort of" an achievement. Everyone does it, if they show up for class and don't create a problem. College is more of the same now. Pay your tuition, hang out, drink beer and graduate.
Before the male child becomes a victim of the evil Female Socialization Complex (FSC), he knows what he wants. He wants to become a man. Ridding a horse well was what a man did. Babylonian boys wanted to ride that horse. Shooting, be it a bow or a gun, is what men do. The boy in the British navy who was about to get his first beating would sometimes get advice from the older men on how to bear up under the punishment. If he didn't scream or cry out they respected him. The tears? Those didn't matter, he couldn't help that. If he kept still and took it without complaint, he was a man. If the bos'n mate had been especially hard with the beating, the older men might even slip the boy a part of their cherished rum ration to help him recover.
You can see something amazing in a little boys eyes. Look closely. Do you see it? It's not mischief. It's not some devilment or acting out. It's the spark of life its self. He wants to be, to do, to become. What does it take to be a man? The little guy might not even have the vocabulary to ask the question yet. He is asking it. With every fiber of his being, he is asking it.
Someone is answering the question.
If the question is answered by the FSC, the answer is not only wrong, its evil. Boys do not need to be like little girls. We have creatures who are supposed to play quietly while mom is on the phone, build and nurture relationships and care about feelings and stuff. We call them girls.
We have these other creatures who want to know how stuff works, so they take it apart. They want to do and see. They want to defend right and protect those they love so they play at being "the good guys" and they fight "the bad guys". They don't set quietly. They run and yell. They eat huge amounts of food. They fart and burp at the table. They will pick a fight just to see who is stronger. As soon as they learn to ride a bike they look for things to "jump" it off. They make stuff with Legos. If they get ahold of firecrackers they will blow up the stuff they made.
You can domesticate the human male, but you should never try to tame him. Boys cannot be made safe. There is nothing safe about a boy. There is only energy. Teach the boy how to control that energy. Never try to take it from him. If you do you will rob him both of his manhood and the spark of life itself.
IF you tame him, he will live at home in the basement till you die and leave him the house.
IF you tell him that he will become a man and how to do it, he will. That energy will focus one day. He will learn all about something and become very good at it. He will build something unique called a life. One day he will discover that the thing hanging inside his pants likes girls. He will chase one until she catches him. His energy will focus on the 3 P's of civilization, Providing, Protecting and Procreating.
Let your little boy, be a boy. One day he will be a man. Train him up and he will be a good man.
One day, when that little boy has little boys and girls of his own, if a bad man comes around, he will handle it. When hardship hits, he will deal with it. When his little boy asks, "What does it take to be a man?". He will show him with his own life.
Todays little boy is tomorrows great-granddad. Make him one you can look down from heaven and be proud of.