In a recent column, I wrote that “thousands of boys…grow up with no idea how to be men.” Jeffrey in Ohio emailed to say that he basically agreed, yet wondered, “What exactly does that mean in 21st-century society?”
Excellent question, Jeffrey. Having been a man for approximately 36 years (depending on when I officially “grew up”), and having raised three sons (two, thus far, to manhood), I think I’m as qualified as anyone to attempt an answer.
Some may consider my ideas old-fashioned, out-of-date, perhaps even chauvinistic. I suppose that’s to be expected from a guy who still doesn’t own a smart phone. But, even though I occasionally fall short myself, I still believe the world would be a better place if more men embraced, well, manliness.
Here’s what I think that means:
A man is someone who does what he says he’s going to do. He doesn’t make promises he can’t keep, and he keeps the promises he makes. His word is his bond. His good reputation means more to him than anything except his family, his faith and his country.
At the same time, as long as he’s convinced he’s on the side of the angels, a man doesn’t really care what other people think. He does what he believes is right, not what’s popular or serves his own interests.
A man does not refrain from telling the truth just because it’s difficult or people won’t like it or it might cause him problems. At the same time, he does not use the truth to injure others for his own personal satisfaction or gain.
A man treats women with deference, children with kindness and all with respect. He is gracious to those less fortunate and gentle to those who are weaker. A man is strong, but he does not use force to coerce, belittle or make himself feel more powerful.
A man is not afraid to show his emotions when deeply moved. Most of the time, however, he keeps his emotions in check and is guided instead by reason.
A man strives, through his own hard work and diligence, and with God’s help, to carve out a place for himself in society and to become a useful, productive citizen.
A man doesn’t simply father children. He provides for them — and their mother— financially. He also spends time with them whenever possible, disciplines them when necessary, and takes every opportunity to teach them how to be decent people and responsible adults.
A man does not shrink from his duties as a husband, a father, an employee and a citizen.
A man would rather die than permit harm to those he loves. He would also rather die than live as a serf or a ward of the state.
A man may have many fears, but his greatest fear is that fear will prevent him from behaving as a man.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less in Buford and on Amazon. Email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit familymanthebook.com.