Teaching Our Sons about True Manhood

I have a 3 year old son at home who has been very vocal lately about his desire to be a gentleman. It is very cute and endearing when he runs to open the car door for his mother or his sisters while exclaiming "Wait! I wanna do it! I wanna be a gentleman!"

Even though he sometimes chooses the wrong time to do this, my wife and I constantly remind ourselves not to discourage this behavior as there is a clear lack of gentlemanly virtue in the world today. I have to give my wife credit for this because whenever my son misbehaves, she uses it as an occasion to teach him that this is not how "mommy's little gentleman" should act.

This all brings me to a outstanding article that I received from All Pro Dad titled 10 Things to Teach Your Son About True Manhood. It is a list of 10 things we need to be teaching our sons so they learn what it is to be a true man. It lists qualities such as respect towards women, responsibility, and humility. Let's face facts, our sons aren't going to learn virtues and how to be gentleman from our culture. These were replaced long ago with greed, selfishness, and other deviant behaviors. It up to us as dads, especially Catholic dads, to swim against the tide and teach our sons what true manhood really means.

I thank God that my wife has been so consistent in teaching my son to be a gentleman. I will admit that I am not always the best example as sometimes my temper, frustrations, and old habits get the best of me. But I am trying learn from my mistakes and I think I will be using this list to not only teach my son but to remind myself as well of the person that I want to be.

Click on the link above for the list and more from All Pro Dad. I have also posted the complete list below:

1. Being a gentleman is still worth the effort:
- Hold the door.
- Stand up when a woman leaves or joins the table.
- Walk on the “splash” side of the sidewalk.
- Attempt (gently) to pick up the tab.
- Go get the car when it’s raining.
- Offer your hand…
2. At the same time, be respectful: All the above “gentlemanly” actions must be offered subtly, and - if necessary - set aside graciously when refused.
3. Take responsibility: In a word (well, two), “step up.” True manhood takes responsibility for its actions, choices, values and beliefs. And – while taking responsibility, manhood is also willing to admit – with grace - when it is wrong.
4. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable: Real strength allows other people in. Manhood is honest about feelings and not afraid to be known. True manhood never builds a wall where there should be a window, or a fortress where there should be a sanctuary.
5. Actually “being” a man is more important than “talking” like one: Real men don’t just stand up and speak up - they “put up” too. Loud talk and tough posturing don’t cut it. True manhood involves finding a need and doing something about it. Real men don’t complain about social problems – they go out and do something about them. Real men don’t point fingers – they work for solutions. Real men get calluses on their hands – not from flapping their lips.
6. Listen respectfully, disagree politely and never exclude women from conversation: True manhood is inclusive. It may be strong, but it’s unfailingly polite. Men who equate bluster or machismo with strength are typically covering something up. Men who think women have nothing to contribute to the conversation need to wake up and smell the 21st Century.
7. Love is stronger than muscles: True manhood understands that brute force is less compelling than self-giving love. The best solutions to difficulties involved applied love.
8. The first shall be last: True manhood puts others first. Jesus is quoted more than once as saying something like this: If you want to be a leader, then the place to be is on your knees, with a towel in your hand, washing someone’s feet.
9. Manhood is – sometimes - more about what you could do but didn’t than what you could have avoided but did anyway: There’s a lot of restraint – a great deal of “Quiet Strength” in true manhood. Real men tend to always have something in reserve.
10. True manhood is more about giving than about getting: Our culture often touts a “men see what they want, then they go out and get it” view of manhood. But true manhood is more along the lines of “see what the world needs, then go out and do it.” Strength leveraged for the benefit of others.

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