Is manhood defined simply by your anatomy, your age or physical maturity, or your behavior? Or is it more about what kind of work you do, how much money or power you possess, or how much responsibility or confidence you have? We live in a time and a culture (in the U.S. at least) where the definition of what it means to be a man has been tragically confused. As boys grow up they are usually taught to be nice, to sit down in class at school, to be quiet, and to be sweet and gentle and follow all the rules all of the time. So for most young boys, they are essentially expected to act like nice little girls. As they grow, most learn to follow the rules to stay out of trouble, but this facade is never who they really are. What they desire with all their hearts is to run outside, to play, to scream, to rough-house, to climb trees and play in dirt and mud and capture small creatures and kill bugs and, did I mention run and scream? My almost-five-year-old son is a perfect example of this–he is the definition of high-energy, adventurous, fearless boyhood. On a daily basis, he runs, jumps, climbs, screams, fights, finds things he can use to hit other things, gets dirty and usually ends up hurting himself, someone else, or breaking something. I know some would try to diagnose him with some disease or disorder that explains his behavior, but I wouldn’t buy it. My son is not abnormal or hyper-active, nor does he have any deficits with they exception of listening to what he is told the first time. My son is a normal little boy. And he is on his way to growing up into a man. At this point in his life, he is learning and growing at an incredible rate that will likely be unmatched throughout the rest of his life. He is like a sponge soaking up all the information and knowledge around him. However, one thing he has not yet mastered is actually caring about what other people think. Sure, he doesn’t really want to disappoint his parents, but his main aim is avoiding punishment while doing what he wants. He doesn’t care if his misbehavior in public places embarrasses his mom and infuriates his dad, he just responds to circumstances the way he feels without fear of the possible repercussions. Although I do sincerely hope his behavior and self-control will continually improve over time, I cannot help but admire his unwavering commitment to doing things his way. I fear that as he gets older, like so many other boys, he will learn to withhold his true emotions, squelch his ideas and desires, and learn to follow along with the crowd and just be nice. Conforming to societal norms is not always bad; obviously learning to control things like anger, greed, and lust are good for individuals and society. However, holding back boys from being boys for generations leads to men who don’t know how to really be men.
In my next post, I’ll break down ways in which REAL manhood has been hijacked in modern culture and what you can do to take steps toward reclaiming your own manhood.
I would love to hear feedback from readers…what do you think it means to be a man?
Let me know it comments or on Facebook.