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Man Up

January 11, 2011

Our four year old son, Lincoln, refuses to be called a “little boy.” If Michelle or I ever make the mistake of saying something like, “You’re a sweet little boy,” he corrects us quickly, “No, I’m a sweet BIG boy.”
 
I remember feeling that way when I was a kid; like I just couldn’t wait to grow up. I didn’t just want to be a BIG boy, I wanted to be a man, even if I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.
 
Lincoln, too, is filled with a fascination and intellectual curiosity about just what it means to be a man. He knows that, right now, he is a boy, but one day he will be a man. When he does something irrational or disrespectful, I often ask, “Do you want to be a man?” He nods, face solemn and filled with shame. He knows what I am about to say: “Men don’t [insert behavior here] and if you want to be a man someday then you need to learn to…”
 
It might seem silly to go through this exercise with a four year old and, I assure you, I am in no rush for him to grow up and be anything but an innocent, loving and wonderful boy. However, I am mindful that the days pass by quickly and I have to capture every opportunity to teach him just what being a man really means. Looking around at our society and culture, it seems that, for one reason or another, there are a lot of overgrown boys who have missed out on those lessons.
 
What, after all, does our society have to tell boys about what it means to be a man? What, too, are we men exhibiting for the generations that come behind us? Certainly we’re not teaching them to take responsibility for their lives, their families and their communities.

One of my favorite blogs is The Art of Manliness , written by Brett and Kate McKay of Tulsa, OK. Brett and Kate write a variety of articles, “on helping men be better husbands, better fathers and better men,” with the ultimate goal of “uncover[ing] the lost art of manliness.”
 
In the “About” section of the Art of Manliness website, Brett describes where he got his idea for the site:
 

My idea for the Art of Manliness came about as I was standing in Borders bookstore looking at the men’s magazines. It seemed to me that the content in these magazines were continually going downhill, with more and more articles about sex and how to get six pack abs. Was this all there was to being a man?
 
And as I looked around at the men my age, it seemed to me that many were shirking responsibility and refusing to grow up. They had lost the confidence, focus, skills, and virtues that men of the past had embodied and were a little lost.

“Lost” is the word that Brett uses to describe a generation of man-boys masquerading as men, and appropriately so.

We, as men, have the responsibility to show our sons that there is more to life than sex and fantasy football. We have to turn off our PlayStations and embrace the role to which we’ve been called.

If we don’t teach our sons what it means to be men, who do we expect to teach them those lessons?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, with the responsibility of marriage and parenthood comes the responsibility of “moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education.”

It goes on to teach us that, “Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life” (CCC 1653).

Implicit in this teaching is a call for us men, to “man up” and take responsibility for exhibiting the life of faith and morality for all of our “little” men to see. Then, and only then, are we answering the true call of manhood and fatherhood.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ryan permalink
    January 12, 2011 12:21 am

    Very well put – we must reclaim our true manhood.

    Glad to be striving towards that end together, my friend.

  2. Kevin permalink
    February 14, 2011 8:07 am

    Great post. Sadly, most men just don’t know how to be a man. They lacked an example growing up, they lack one now, and then unknowingly lack to set an example for someone else.

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