From the Drafts Folder: Letters to My Son; on Manhood and Value

***Editors Note: Free-form writing has immense value in assisting with the formation of complete stories. Sometimes however, the thoughts never complete themselves, even though the viewpoints still have value. With that spirit in mind, I thought I’d occasionally toss up a few and allow you to form your own neat ending. This post came about from a discussion on the definition of manhood, where I wondered how I would pass on the lessons..

What is “manhood”, really?

What does it mean to be a “real” man? These questions plague my generation as the feminist movement seeks to redefine women’s role in the world. And while women have enough on their plates and certainly cannot be held to the task of fighting for equality and hand-holding our male counterparts through the process, men are increasingly feeling confused and left behind in an effort to re-define manhood in a world where women are becoming increasingly self-sufficient. And, as I am now at an age where I have to contemplate how I would lead my son through this quagmire, I first wonder if we are even asking the right questions..

Is our issue at this stage really defining “manhood” or womanhood”, or is it communicating value, to ourselves and society at large? Is the issue our self-perception, or the ability to get others to agree with it? What about us causes our stock to rise in the eyes of others? Is it looks? Money? Emotional Intelligence? Dexterity or functional skill? Ability to protect and provide, or nurture and support? What are the things that show our importance to the world? Our value?

Well, son, I can show you what I value in a man. I can tell you what society values in a man. I can show you what women in general SAY they value in a man. And then I can tell you to decide what it is you value in yourself.

However, to find a large group of people that value you for the things you value in yourself is rare. You must learn to not take this reality of life personally, and work to develop yourself as a whole, self-sufficient person. Understand value means different things to different people. The most successful people at communicating value are flexible and able to show off the many great things about their personality in a way their audience can understand. You can switch aspects of your personality to the forefront and still be true to your core, the way I may wear a skirt on some dates or pants on some job interviews. But I work my best to stay true to what I value in myself.

For example, perhaps you find yourself in the company of a woman who values a “take-charge” personality, and you are rather reserved. You can choose to go against your core, or you can “take charge’ in an area where you excel. Bring her into your world and show her something you are good at, perhaps a hobby or a detailed explanation of your work, something that shows an area where you lead. Even something as simple as assisting her with a project that shows your strengths (hi, Ikea furniture!) can communicate your leadership skills in a way that does not compromise your core.

The beauty of the time in which you are coming into is there is no “script” anymore. Besides, the old script was killing people, anyway…

Photo Credit: DeviantArt


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