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Bear Grylls on Fatherhood, Masculinity, and the Rewards of Risk

The survivalist and reality show host discusses the risks and rewards of raising three boys.

Bear Grylls, British Army survival instructor-turned reality TV wild man, is bringing his adrenaline-filled brand to social media with his new Facebook Watch show, “Face the Wild.” It’s the kind of heart-pumping journey we’ve come to expect from Grylls, in which he guides people to remote places and proceeds to put them in situations where they test their mettle.

But where does Grylls, always cool on screen in the face of danger, get his mettle tested? We can only assume at home with his three boys, ages 9, 11, and 15, where he lets them run a bit more wild than your average parent. Grylls has been outspoken about exposing his kids to risk. “Let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that removing risk makes our children ‘safe’,” Grylls recently wrote in The Times. “It doesn’t.” His most public threat was a little more than three years ago when his then 11-year-old son, alone on the rocks off the north Wales coast, needed to be rescued in a (carefully planned) stunt. The public condemnation was swift, but Grylls response was just as strong: “I am determined to stand beside them on that journey,” he wrote. “And yes, it can be dangerous.”

We recently corresponded with Grylls, asking him about what we can learn from our limits, what kind of dad he is, and how he models masculinity for his boys.

RELATED: Video Shows How To Build A Bow And Arrow Out In The Wilderness

Why is it important for all of us to “face the wild”?
I often say how the wild exposes us wide open and we can’t hide — that’s the pain but also the magic. So often I have seen unlikely heroes emerge and those we might think invincible often crumble. The hardships and the camaraderie that we experience on these adventures builds a pride and confidence that is hard to explain.

What do we learn from adventures or experiences that push our limits?
When a group is under pressure, tired, cold, hungry, thirsty, being devoured by sand flies and mossies, you see who the heroes are pretty quick. But also learning that the pain never lasts forever and once through it then we are always stronger for it.

I have always felt that you can sum parenthood up in three words: example, example, example.

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When you first became a dad, how did your life change?
This one I can’t explain. As they say, “If you have to ask the question, you’ll never understand the answer.” It changes everything for the better, fuller, funnier, messier and your heart overflows with love and pride that knows no limits.

Bear Grylls: Face the Wild

Check out Bear Grylls as he celebrates the unsung heroes he’s met on Facebook and takes them on incredible adventures. Follow the new series Bear Grylls: Face The Wild and hear their remarkable stories starting 3/21, only on Facebook Watch

Posted by Bear Grylls: Face The Wild on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

What kind of dad are you? 
I try to tell them to go for things, to have dreams and to embrace failure as a way to where you want to get to. To be kind and courageous and to never give up. I have always felt that you can sum parenthood up in three words: example, example, example.

Life is all about attitude and heart. It’s not about physicality, or gender, or exams or trophies, it’s about having the courage to follow that fire inside.

How do you model masculinity to your three boys?
I’ve tried to do what I love and say that it’s ok to show your feelings and it’s ok to struggle with stuff as it’s the struggle that develops our strength, and that’s the way I’ve tried to operate. If that’s masculinity well, good.

What do you want your boys to know about what it means to be a man?
I just want them to know that life is all about attitude and heart. It’s not about physicality, or gender, or exams or trophies, it’s about having the courage to follow that fire inside, that steely determination to keep going when we face opposition or hardships and then ultimately to never give up! And that comes from inside, it’s not a male or female thing.