Turning Boys into Men: A Rewarding Feat for Real Men
Author : Tom Graneau
Turning boys into men is not easy. Among other things, the job requires role models that are worth emulating, which is difficult to find in a violent, demanding, and copout world. Yet boys do not automatically become real men by virtue of size, age, and a high school or college diploma. They must be taught by other men, a task that is ideally suited for fathers.
If you are a father of boys, this doesn’t mean that you should suddenly feel obligated to take them out to a ball game or fishing trip as a masculine path to manhood. These occasional activities are woefully inadequate in helping boys develop into real men. Yet, sports seem to be the only medium through which too many fathers are able to relate with their sons, possibly mimicking patterns of fathers of previous generations that had difficulty communicating with their boys.
Developing boys into men requires time: Not things such as sports cars, fishing equipment, money, etc.; and not events like ball games, boxing experiences, fishing trips, and so forth. Although there is a time and place for these activities, real men don’t need them to prove their masculinity. Instead, boys need to be taught how to be considerate, confident, protective, concerned, brave, pro-active, courageous, dependable, and compassionate. They need to witness these traits in their fathers; equally important, they need to be given the opportunity to demonstrate them under supervision. All of this takes a considerable amount of time, closeness, and trust.
Moreover, they need to learn the fundamentals of life:
- Never negate on a promise, even when it’s difficult to keep.
- Take responsibility for their actions and bear the consequences.
- Be honest in small things, especially in private.
- Don’t compromise with wrong, even when they can get away with it.
- Remain true to their friends in adversity as well as in prosperity.
- Believe in honest work, not shrewdness and deception.
- Stand up for the truth, even when it’s unpopular.
- Learn to say “no” without guilt or remorse.
- Love their wives and children, which is their God-given responsibilities.
- Practice the fine art of self-respect, confidence, and tenderness toward all women, including their mother, sisters, wives, and daughters.
- Believe in God, the creator of the universes.
- Keep all their appointments; call if there are unable to be there on time.
- Take risks when necessary. It builds personal character, bravery, and stamina.
- Follow their dreams, especially when things get difficult.
In a few circles, some of these human qualities may seem old fashion and hold little value in a highly fragmented and divisive world. It is as though this same view might suggest that brutality, rudeness, disrespect, unreliability, dishonesty, and similar negative human conducts are more appropriate for the well-being of society.
On the contrary, positive human virtues such as the ones described above are highly admired by both men and women around the world who understand the difference between right and wrong. Furthermore, the man or boy who has the courage to demonstrate them are generally favored among those who lack the knowledge and discipline of proper manhood.
Less than perfect dads
Character blemished dads who lack the courage or feel inadequate to train their sons into manhood should not be discouraged by this challenge. Instead, they should view it as an opportunity to connect with their sons.
From my experience, there is nothing that children appreciate more from their parents than honesty. When we openly admit our mistakes and failures with our children, good things begin to happen. In addition to the therapeutic healing that usually accompanies the experience, they begin to see us as people who have attempted to do the right thing in life but failed along the way. More importantly, they see flawed human beings who are able to muster the courage to admit their faults and continue performing their God-given responsibilities as parents.
Often, the human dynamics that come together between children and parents in these moments are usually refreshing and functionally productive. The interaction usually breeds trust, love, compassion, caring, concern, and forgiveness. This is particularly important between fathers and sons where in most cases the chasm between them is typically wider and more difficult to mend.
The opposite happens when we try to hide our flaws and pretend to be perfect. The behavior causes children to resent their parents. Often, these relationships foster distrust, disrespect, animosity, and other negative vibes that last for years.
Fortunately, fathers who have been less than straightforward with their sons can remedy the problem. All it takes is the willingness to do so. For those who are timid about the approach, they should view the challenge as once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a friend, heal some wounds, and build lasting relationships with the ones they care about the most.
What is required is simple. I recommend the following if you have difficulty getting the process started:
- Schedule a time to meet your son in a quiet, healthy environment (not a bar, club, etc.)
- Take the initiative to sincerely apologize for past, negative conduct that may have hurt him and the rest of the family.
- Commit to do everything in your power to maintain a healthy relationship with him from this point forward.
- Allow your son time to vent his frustration or disdain to your prior unbecoming fatherly behavior.
- Forgive any, and all of his shortcomings if necessary and ask to be forgiven (this part may not happen right away…give it time).
- Thank him for his time as you end the meeting.
- Plan to meet as often as possible to strengthen the relationship.
When you walk away, determine (once and for all) to avoid any conduct that will bring disappointment to your son. This means that you must live by the same principle that you’re trying to instill in him. When you practice what you preach, he will most likely do the same.
I promise, if you take these steps to mend your relationship with your son, you will not be disappointed. He will see you as a new man, a human being who wants to improve himself and the lives of others, specifically his.
Turning boys into men is a God-given responsibility. The task is not easy but extremely rewarding for fathers who love and care about the well-being of their sons.
What are your thoughts on the matter?
Have you seen a decline in good moral virtues in today’s young men? Is it still necessary to teach them good values? Is there hope for broken relationships between fathers and sons? Who should take the initiative to mend them?
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