I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what it takes to be a good man. Here are some of my thoughts.
- The biggest thing about being a man is to have courage. Sometimes, we have things happen in our lives that make us afraid. Maybe we are facing a big decision, or a major change in how we live. There can be a lot in life that is unknown, and that can be scary. But a man will say to himself, “I know that I’m afraid of what I don’t know or don’t understand, but I will step out anyway.” A man can be afraid of the unknown — fear is OK — but he doesn’t let fear stop him from building a better life for himself.
- Real men have emotions, and they are willing to share them. Some people think that men should never show fear, or love, or pain, or anything — that men should all be like John Wayne or Vin Diesel. But this is not true! Being a man means accepting one’s feelings and sharing them with those they love.
- Real men need to be weak sometimes. When we are afraid, or in pain, it’s OK for men to need someone to care for them. Being a man doesn’t mean that you have to be strong and perfect 100 percent of the time — being a man means you are strong when you can be, and let yourself to be weak when you need to be, so that others can be strong for you.
- When times are tough, and you need help, a man will ask for it. There is no shame in needing help!
- It’s OK for a man to enjoy silly or childish things. One of the greatest joys in my life is being silly. Little things like kitten calendars, or Dilbert doorknob hangers, or my elephant mug, make me happy. And sometimes I like to play — board games, or hide-and-seek with my 4-year-old nephew. There is nothing wrong with a man liking some “kid stuff,” because the man who won’t let the kid inside of him to come out to play is a man who is unhappy and unhealthy.
- Men accept responsibility for their behavior, and understand that they have obligations to others that need to be met, even when we don’t want to.
Every man begins as a boy. But there is no line in the sand between “boy” and “man” — the journey from being a boy to being a man takes a long time. And it’s not perfect. The happiest men I know are the ones who sometimes let their inner boy come out for a while every now and then, and try to balance the “man” and “boy” in their lives.
Manhood isn’t easy, and it takes a long time to for a boy to grow into a teen, and that teen to grow into a young man, and that young man to become an old man. It’s a journey that is important, but it doesn’t need to be taken alone.