Everywhere I’ve turned around today the ‘boys to men’ debate has been raging. How are we raising our sons? Is telling them to ‘be a man’ destroying them? Is encouraging ‘feminine’ qualities crushing the manly life out of them? What kind of men do we want them to grow up to be? Of course there are vastly different views on this topic, but I submit that we’re looking at the issue all wrong.
I have two little boys who will one day grow up to be men. In the short time that I have known them, one thing has become increasingly clear. They are their own persons. One is outgoing; the other is an introvert. One can remember a fact after hearing it once; the other has an artistic streak. One cries at the sad parts in movies; the other wants to beat up bad guys all day. One loves team sports; the other prefers to fly solo. One is afraid of the dark; the other can’t fall asleep if the room is too bright. They both love to dance; they both love to wrestle. They both love superheroes; they both love Legos. They both love their mom and dad (most of the time); they both love their baby sister (also most of the time).
Here’s my point: Let’s stop approaching the problem of what is happening to our boys with a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Instead, let’s approach each child as an individual. Some boys are more rough and tumble than others. Let’s not discourage their physicality, but instead allow it a proper outlet. Some boys are more sensitive than others. Let’s encourage them to use that sensitivity to help others. Instead of trying to pigeonhole half the population into one common personality, be it ultra-masculine or semi-feminine, let’s let each boy be himself. And when we see him going harmfully astray, let’s use what we know about him individually, to steer him back onto a good path. If each child is allowed to be who he is instead of who we want him to be, I think he will grow into a man we can all be proud of.