So, my son now has a son of his own. (Proud grandpa picture below.) I am well aware of all the mistakes I made as a father, but when I see the man my son has become I figure I was not as bad an example as I have feared.
What does it take for a boy to become a man? Plenty of males become fathers without having become men. The former requires only sexual maturity; the latter requires a good deal of mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity.
My son did not become a man because of my efforts alone. My son and I are friends, and we respect each other, but we are very different in many ways. I do not understand some of who he is, so how could I help him in those areas? I see many men who helped him along the way. Men who came along side, be if for an hour or a year, to help him discover who God made him to be. Men who shared their own stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly they did not want anyone to see. Men who taught him masculine skills I did not possess. Men who tested him, affirmed him, challenged him, pushed him, and double dog dared him.
I also see how women helped him become a man. Women who provided a contrast, showing him masculinity by not being shy about their femininity. I see women who allowed him to help and protect them – even when they might have been able to do those things just fine on their own.
And of course, I see how his mother helped him. She allowed him to be a boy, and then a young man. She let him do things she found gross, and she let him push the limits beyond her comfort zone. She let her concerns be heard by me rather than him, and she trusted me to set sane limits. She trusted God to care for our son in ways we could not. Lori also showed our son an example of a healthy, Godly wife. She lived her life with me in front of our son in an appropriately open way. She set a high bar for the woman he would call his wife, and when he found a woman who was all that and more Lori accepted her without reservation.
If you have a son, he will become an adult, and he will likely have children of his own. These things will happen regardless of what you do. His becoming a man is not as automatic. You, his father, family, and friends will be responsible for him becoming a man.
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