March 14, 2016

A Mom Wants Heroes for Her Son

I got a challenging message from the mom of a ten-year-old boy named Aaron. Melody K. wrote, I find it hard to raise a boy to be a man and male mentors are not easy to find. There seem to be lots of resources to help women and girls but not much for boys and men. Even our local Boy Scout groups have more moms than dads involved. My son needs to have good male mentors and some positive male heroes he can look up to. Can you profile some of these men?

Some of our military men are really heroes and would be great role models. Another good example was Quannah Parker, the last war leader of the free Comanche. He had a very difficult life on the plains and was focused on helping his people withstand the challenges to their way of life. He was also a brave warrior.

I'd like to read about lots of positive male role models, all with their own unique strengths. Their stories would be so encouraging to boys like my son who are looking for guidance and thinking about what kind of man they are going to become.

Here's part of my response to Melody: First of all, I believe ALL men are role models for boys because as young males approach adolescence they start watching and emulating the men around them. Like it or not, while they may not yet be heroes, all men are in the business of mentoring boys, whether they know it or not.

. . . all men are in the business of mentoring boys
whether they know it or not.

As I look back on my life the real hero for me was the man who lived next door. Mark Moore was the father of two girls and I know he liked having a young guy around. He knew about the alcoholic messes that happened in my house and, without saying much, he took me under his protective wing.

I can still remember the winter day Mark showed me his tackle box, a thing of mystery and things masculine for sure. I spent many days that winter waiting for late spring and the day Mark and I headed out to go fishing, with all the adventure, things to learn, and the beauty of nature. I learned to put a hook on the line, add the bait, and then how to be patient while waiting for your dreams to come true. Sometimes we even caught fish and I had to learn about life and death. Mark also invited me into his garage woodshop where I learned about tools, planning, building things, and starting over when necessary.

I wrote a blog post about Mark Moore in 2010, when I learned about his death, because, while I didn't realize it at the time, he taught me so much about being a man without even trying. He was and is my hero.

. . . he taught me so much about being a man
without even trying.

For better and worse, there are always men in the media for boys to watch. Way back when I was a kid, I had superheroes. I’m old enough to remember the early ones like Lone Ranger, Sky King, Superman, and Batman. While those shows were much less graphic, sexy, and violent than today's versions, my heroes were always strong, clean, and capable. They were constantly busy nabbing bad guys and doing the right thing for the people they served. They didn’t swear, always stood for positive values, and were always humble about their good work. Life was so innocent back then!

When training men to work with young guys, I like to ask them about their heroes. The hero question is actually number 7 on my list of Questions for Men which you can find on the Man-Making website. The question is: As an adolescent boy, who was one of your male heroes from film, music, sports, or television? What did that man teach you about manhood? Was there another man who was less visible and maybe less famous who stood out for you? What did you learn about being a man from him?

. . . who are your male heroes today?

So dear reader, let's help Melody and her son Aaron out. Do you have your own stories about men, or a special man, who has inspired you? Who were your heroes growing up and who are your male heroes today? What good men, real heroes, or positive role models have you come across in your life, film, TV, or in books? Send a paragraph along to me and I'll publish them (anonymously if you like) on this blog. I'll also add them to the Men's Stories collection evolving on the Man-Making website.

For the record, if you're a man and reading this post, you are my hero! It's because you wouldn't be here reading this unless you've heard the call to Man-Making, however faint. Reading these posts IS a step toward increasing your young male literacy, moving you closer to action in support of a young guy . . . and maybe becoming some young guy's hero!

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