An interesting question popped up over lunch yesterday. How do you explain to young men what it means to be a man.
I, of course, instantly fell back into an old comfort zones. Being a man is driven by your values. Those values are important and include God, Integrity, character, respect. All inter-related and neatly bundled. It works. All decisions are driven by those values and though I sometimes fall short of my “ideal” man I try not to miss by much.
But that answer doesn’t work. The question was, how do you explain those values to young men. Kids really; aged 15-25, who are desperately trying to figure out what being a man means and what skills they need to become those men. More importantly, how do you do it if you only have an hour to spend with them.
From values we began discussing “skills” needed to “be a man” and covered a long list of them. Everything from how to shave properly, to how to shoot, to how to change a flat. But while those are all good skills to have they don’t answer the question because, in the end, they’re just a set of skills and without the values to tie them together they’re nothing more. You can add ‘the ability to take a leak anywhere I want’ to the list and not really add value to the list or detract from it at all.
So, it’s a combination of things, integrity, respect of self, basic engineering skills, responsibility, providing for your family, love of country, submission or adherence to the laws of man and humility before God. Difficult concepts to explain to a teenager whose only goal in life is to get laid… tonight… hopefully twice. Or to explain to a young adult who has a general understanding of what the words mean and really thinks they’re a great idea but wishes you’d shut up because he’s got plans to meet the boys at the bar at 8:00.
In the end, the best idea that I could come up with was two fold. Help them identify role models and teach them to learn from those models in an effective way and do what you can to BE those role models. Not a great answer but it was a short lunch.
Me? I drive an F250 4×4, shoot well, and try to fix a problem before I abandon it to the repair guy. I get dirty when I work and I work hard to ensure that my wife has a comfortable life. I try to make good choices directed by a Christian upbringing and I try to make the same choices regardless of whether anyone will ever know. I display a love of life and a love of family in my daily living and to balance that I will, occasionally, have a bubble bath. But if you giggle about that last one I can kick your ass.
So, how would you do it? How do you teach a young adult to be a man in todays world while dealing with the confusion of gender roles and general androgynation. of both roles?
Oh, and for what it’s worth, views from both sexes are important and welcome.
While you formulate your reply I think I’ll have a bubble bath.