I had one of those moments today when I looked at Kaper and realized he is getting so big… gone is my baby and in his place is a little boy who is funny, charming and sweet, a little boy who will grow up to be a good man with the proper guidance. Then I had a moment of panic at the responsibility that lies in that. As his Mum it lies with me (and his Daddy of course) to raise him to be the man I can see in him. I have no earthly idea how to raise a man… each day is an adventure, and each day there are failures and successes. I watched a video the other day that talked about boys and how they are forced to ‘be men’ who are tough, or can’t cry, and the anger that it breeds. I still don’t know how I feel about all the things I heard in that video. I am wrestling with it even now. I want them to know how to show and share emotion, but I don’t want emasculate them by telling them they can’t be tough when it’s important to be. It’s made me look at what I see in the men I respect around me, what is it that makes a man?
A man, in my way of thinking, is strong, dependable, committed, faithful, powerful, a leader, he is loving and wise, he is able to show love and allow himself to be loved by being vulnerable when necessary. He is someone who can stand beside a woman in her times of need and yet lean on her when he finds he is the one who needs help. A man is able to show emotion, he’s someone who can cry when his heart is breaking and not be ashamed of aches and pains of life. A man can be gentle, he can and will stand beside a friend in the hard times, he can be counted on, relied upon, depended on. He is someone who will make tough decisions and lead through hard times. He is someone who will work 2 or 3 jobs to provide for the family he has created. He is someone who stays, who works, who loves.
I don’t want my guys to be afraid to cry, I don’t want them to feel they need to be tough, and fight, in order to prove they are in fact ‘real men’. I want them to know the difference between what is real, and what is a societal lie. The question remains though, how do I raise men like this? Now you see where the panic comes from… there are so many books, articles and blog posts about how to raise men, and all give contradictory advice. I have read that raising our boys to be men who are told to feel, to cry openly or to walk away from fights is actually failing them and emasculating them, that it’s trying to make them into women. Yet at the same time I have read that teaching our boys to not cry, not feel, teaching them to fight, is damaging them and making them suffer in silence, statistics apparently showing a higher amount of men with depression and anger issues as a result. What’s the right answer? What is the right way forward? Is there not a balance in there somewhere?
I don’t have the answers… this is an editorial of sorts. I know that the men I want them to be, I know the person I want them to be, but getting them there is at the moment a mystery to me. I think it may be time to stop reading the books about raising men, and just start living. I think I need to stop trusting in articles and books and youtube videos about how to raise a ‘good man’ and just start raising them, start trusting that I am not doing this alone, that God has a hand in it as well. I need to realize that I will make mistakes along the way but I will also do the right thing from time to time.
Parenting is harder than I ever imagined it could be…