Question of the Day

Jeff Cooper (1920-2006) was an American firearms instructor who systematically studied, refined, and taught self-defense using the mind, the handgun, and the rifle. His books and his commentaries are interesting to read, not only for his practical firearms information, but his well-written expositions on the meaning of masculinity. Cooper maintained a carefully thought-out vision of what it means to be a man that would not be alien to our friends at The Art of Manliness.

In one passage in The Art of the Rifle, Cooper wrote about the instructional duties of a father to his sons:
Before the young man leaves home, there are certain things he should know and certain skills he should acquire, apart from any state-sponsored activity. Certainly the youngster should be taught to swim, strongly and safely, at distance. And young people of either sex should be taught to drive a motor vehicle, and if at all possible, how to fly a light airplane. I believe a youngster should be taught the rudiments of hand-to-hand combat, unarmed, together with basic survival skills. The list is long, but it is a parent's duty to make sure that the child does not go forth into the world helpless in the face of its perils. Shooting, of course, is our business, and shooting should not be left up to the state.

I'm personally leery of any formal concept of masculinity or femininity because it can mean getting yourself trapped in the identity with which other people desire to burden you (e.g. "X is what it means to be manly; why aren't you doing X?).

Nonetheless, I agree with Cooper's general sentiment that a parent should prepare a child to enter a dangerous world. Here are, of the top of my head, some of the skills that I will intentionally teach my daughters:

  • How to change a tire, engine oil, a headlight, a battery, and jump-start a car without assistance.

  • How to swim (see also)

  • How to seek and apply for a job.

  • How to ask a reference question.

  • When to keep your mouth shut.

  • How to save money.

What skills do you think are essential for parents to teach their children?

via The View from North Central Idaho | Photo by Flickr user bterrycompton used under Creative Commons license

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