I think the most important thing is to be approachable...The Drill Sergeant thing might work in some ways, but it will isolate your son from you as it will make you seem unapproachable and he might not want to tell you things.
I was 13 nine years ago, and I know that what I liked about my dad was even though he was a stern disciplinarian, he was also approachable. As far as teaching me what makes a man a man...He taught me--and still teaches me--about being a man without even knowing he does it...Your son may not seem receptive, but I am willing to bet he's learning via observation and one day you'll see it kick in, and you won't even remember teaching it.
I am sorry to hear about the PTSD and Depression, but I honestly believe a man can be a good dad despite those things...Keep your chin up. <fist bump>
Can you be more specific? What is the "Point of no return?" Thirteen is the most hellish age in child development (although 17 comes close): The hormones are raging, but the brain won't catch up for a year or two. In general, the more time pubescent boys spend around adults, and the less time they spend unsupervised with their buddies, the better they turn out as human beings. It's also the age where boys need to psychologically separate from their fathers and be accepted into the greater community of men. If you can get him involved in some activity where other trustworthy adult males are supervising him, it might reduce the tension.
Well, there should absolutely be consequences for punching his little brother, but the time outside in the cold, barefoot seems to be it's own punishment for being stupid.
One of the things that always surprised me when I was teaching 8th graders was the disconnect they had between their actions and the consequences of those actions. The only thing that can be done is to apply the consequences consistently until his brain has matured enough to understand the connection.
It was but as I said that was the proverbial straw.
Maybe it shouldn't be. Running out in the cold is a way to get out of an emotionally difficult situation.
OK, hurting little brother is different. You said 13-y-o knows boxing. You didn't say if it was love pats or if 9-y-o is in the hospital. Permanently injuring a family member, sure, that's hard to recover from. Tussling with one and running outside to pout... I wonder if you're giving up on him too easily. And I wonder if he sensed you would, and had to find out. (No confidence in those guesses; just thoughts.)
No it wasn't a love tap brothers beating up brothers thing. There was an egg on the side of my youngest's head. Oh Im not giving up on him just the opposite. I refuse to give up on him or any of my sons. I will raise them to be men and learn the consequences of their actions though.
I'm having trouble reconciling "I refuse to give up on him" with "He has gone past the point of no return." I must not understand what at least one of these means, because they seem contradictory.
I don't think this is about teaching the boys attitudes, perspectives, or wisdom. I think it's about the relationship you have with them. If they don't trust you or hold a grudge, they'll reject the wisdom.
Drill Sergeant is definitely going to alienate many boys, especially if they don't see underneath it that you like being with them, respect them, and are kind to them.
The core of my relationship with one of my boys (he's 3, but still) is playing with him and giving him things. I give him orders, but I try to make sure that he knows I'm allowing space for him to do what he wants, too.
I don't know if I have a sense for what your relationship w/ the boys is like, but even if not... maybe some of that is useful anyway.