What makes a “man?” Am I a man? Are you? How do we know? How do we measure?
Many years ago when my eldest boys were very young, I decided to create a familial definition of manhood that could serve them as a guiding tenet as they matured and navigated life’s complexities. For those of you who’ve read my post “It’s Who You Are On the Outside That Matters,” you already know I strongly believe identity follows action, and thus my definition for our family centers around what a man does rather than is. After much deliberation, I came up with:
“A man employs his strength of body and character for the betterment of those around them.”
We can endlessly explore what that means in detail, and throughout our lives we should mindfully do so. That said, if a man is ever on the spot and trying to hastily determine the right course of action, I feel like this definition serves as a useful tool. Can women embody this definition too? Of course they can. People often confuse masculine and feminine with man and woman. In fact I believe each man or woman living a balanced life should possess an appropriate proportion of traditionally masculine traits (such as courage or tenacity) and feminine traits (such as nurturing and emotional intelligence). Women can and do often capably handle that within the masculine realm, but I’d personally prefer that result from choice instead of necessity, and would rather see men stand up and be counted upon to fulfill their masculine duties. I think most women would prefer that as well. Ultimately, in my opinion, if man who does not meet the above definition he falls short of the manly ideal.
So what about you? How do you determine “What makes a man?”