I want to address the men who may be reading this. When you think about it, what does being a man mean to you?
So often, in today’s society, being a man is often a right of passage. There is something you have to do that makes you a man. Strength, conquest, notoriety, all of these are used to determine what this world considers a man. If you don’t have these things, you are often ridiculed or shamed for being less of a man. How many times have you heard a guy tell another guy to grow a pair or man up?
To be masculine means to always be tough, dominate, overpower – or so we have come to believe. Boys grow up thinking that being a man means I have to do this or that and then I will be considered a man. If I can have that girl I will then be a man, if I have this job I will then be a man, if I can make myself feel better at the expense of others, I will then be a man.
These things, obviously, don’t make us a man, but why is it so common for people to believe they do? What makes this stigma resound through the minds of young, impressionable boys?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America – one out of every three – live in biological father-absent homes. That is a staggering number and if say one out of three of those children are boys, who are they looking to for guidance and leadership? Not saying mothers can’t provide this, but having a father figure, especially for a young boy, can help shape who that boy becomes.
In a study examining father involvement with 134 children of adolescent mothers over the first 10 years of life, researchers found that father-child contact was associated with better socio-emotional and academic functioning. The results indicated that children with more involved fathers experienced fewer behavioral problems and scored higher on reading achievement. This study showed the significance of the role of fathers in the lives of at-risk children, even in case of nonresident fathers.
Source: Howard, K. S., Burke Lefever, J. E., Borkowski, J.G., & Whitman , T. L. (2006). Fathers’ influence in the lives of children with adolescent mothers. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 468- 476.
Not saying, having a father in the picture is the end-all-be-all of the problem. It depends on the type of man that father is as well. Society can force a boy to grow up but it can’t make that boy become a man. There are so many men, who at their core, are just boys scared to death, afraid to let someone in, to let their true self be known. Showing emotion, pain, hurt or love has become taboo. The idea of self-sacrifice, putting someone else before themselves never crosses their mind. They are bombarded everyday with media telling them this is how it is supposed to be, all the while feeling that their is so much more they are missing.
I propose true masculinity is not found in the size of your biceps or the thickness of your wallet but in the depth of your heart. – All Pro Dad
I can tell you now, there is more, there is a lot more. It’s not easy though. It takes being vulnerable and putting yourself out there. It takes getting hurt, a lot, but there is never growth without pain, there is never learning without failing. The key is to get back up, even if you fall further than when you started. Be a man and own your mistakes; take responsibility for who you are and who you want to become. Stop being passive.
When we truly understand that our identity isn’t self-made, we can understand that our identity does not make us who we are, but focuses on who our Father is through us.
“Our Identity isn’t built on our image being reflected back to us but the image of the Father flowing through us.” – Rhett Smith
In essence, being a man means loving unconditionally. Showing others that you mean what you say and that you aren’t afraid to stand up for your beliefs. If you have a family, leading them in a way that nurtures and protects them, sacrificing when necessary. To a man, forgiveness is not just a concept but an idea that is lived daily, in regards to himself and as it relates to those around him.That you are true to your identity.
If you don’t know what it means to have a father, someone to look up to, someone to model your life after and to become a man in all essence of the word, I encourage you to look to the one who is the ultimate man. He set the example for what that means more than 2000 years ago. His capacity for love is what we should strive for in being men. Never give up and remember, He is always for you and cheering for you to become more than you are today.
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. – I John 3:1