06 June 2012
Making a Man
I've been thinking about what I need to do, as Patrick's father, when he gets older and transitions into a young adult, then to manhood.
I need to be a role model. It is my firm suspicion that there nothing more important to raising a responsible young man than modeling the behavior I hope he will embrace when he becomes a man. Patrick will learn more from watching how I react and behave in given circumstances than he will from almost anything I tell him. Jen pointed out the other day that I can get quite irritable with other drivers ... to the point of getting vocal (yes, I can yell and scream at times). I definitely need to change that type of behavior, before he learns it from me.
I need to teach him how to properly plan for the future. Too many men go through life just reacting to what is happening around them ... I know I spent a lot of my life this way (prior to meeting Jen, of course). Boys tend to react to the activity of the moment, but I know that part of becoming a man is making choices based on strong ethics and values, even before a situation arises. I need to help him think about his career, emphasizing the need for planning and preparation. I need to make time (yes, I need to plan, as well) to teach him about scheduling and time management so he can see the impact of planning and thinking ahead on his life.
Patrick needs to learn proper respect from me ... he needs to understand his impact on others. His understanding of respect that I model and teach him will forever impact his respect for authority, as well as showing his respect for women, by being a true gentleman. I've always joked that my mother would hit me for not being a true gentleman, but in reality, my father taught me as much as she did about this valuable lesson.
Trust is something earned, which is one of the most important lessons I believe Patrick will ever learn from me. If he is a trustworthy man, he will live up to his commitments and live morally and ethically. Real men keep their promises, are honest even when no one is watching, and earn the trust of others.
Two of the lessons that took me a long time to learn (due to no fault of my parents ... I was a bit of a slow learner in some areas) are accountability and self-discipline. Since it took me so much longer to learn these lessons, I am acutely aware of my role in teaching Patrick that he needs to make good choices and sacrifice for something of greater value. Getting him involved in a sport, music, or some other activity that requires sacrifice and self-discipline is an important step in the process of learning these traits ... and, he needs to see my involvement in these activities with him, even if it is from the sidelines.
The perception that a man has to be emotionless and conceal his feelings is very real. This perception is harmful to quality relationships ... I need to teach Patrick the true value of compassion. He should understand, if I am doing my job right as a father, kindness and compassion for others, how to properly demonstrate love of family and friends, and a true love of God and Country. These feelings, in their proper place and in balance with the rest of his life, will serve him well as a responsible and strong man.
Basic rules and consequences are important factors in teaching all these lessons. Our world is full of rules and consequences ... a reality I have to help my son embrace.
I realize as I finish writing this that I certainly have taken on quite a task to help Patrick become a responsible and productive man in this society, who will raise the next generation of young men to do the same ...