I posed the topic of what makes a man a real man on social media to get a take on what some of my friends thought about the characteristics required to fill this role. I expected a bunch of women to vent about what they would like in a man. Surprisingly, only males responded. Let me take that back, only men responded. Amazingly, these weren’t random men, these responders were all men that I admire for various reasons. Some are great fathers, supportive husbands, leaders, and just plain ole good guys. To have the insight of these men was valuable. Again, I was surprised at the silence of women, but hopefully, they were just reading to see if their thoughts matched these men’s expressions.
We all know or know of an adult male who is simply masked in a man’s body. He may be the finest thing this side of the boarder, but his actions say that he is no man. Instead of telling you all the things he’s probably not doing (because we already know these things), let’s talk about what he should do to steer him positively based on the feedback of my men friends. Here are their top three characteristics:
1) Responsibility – This characteristic came up often in their views. While some males may think they are responsible, others involved with them may not think this at all. I’ve known some males who say they are responsible, yet they are constantly late on bills, which then results in late fees. This is irresponsible. They have services disconnected because they figure they can just pay for them every few months or so, not monthly as they are due. This is irresponsible. They have children, but do not contribute to the financial needs of their children nor do they spend adequate time with those children to be involved in experiences that impact their children’s lives. This is irresponsible. In their heads,they are responsible because they do those things I mentioned, even though they are not consistent. To them, sometimes is better than none. No adult male, sorry. That is not how this works. A real man is responsible period, not when someone reminds him that he needs to be.
2) Leader – A real man shows leadership qualities. We’ve all heard the term that a man is the head of his household. As head of the household, he exhibits characteristics that those within the house should follow. The household members should be able to look up to that man and seek guidance. All guidance doesn’t have to be verbal either. Guidance can come of in the form of actions. If that man exhibits the traits of a gentleman, the male children learn to be a gentleman and the female children learn how men should treat women.
Now some women reading this will not approve with the man being the head of the household because that automatically makes them think of submission and that’s ok. Some women are very defensive when it comes to the word submission. However, if your man is a real man, you both will understand that his role as head of the house does not mean he is a dictator at all. Leaders aren’t rude, disrespectful, or abusive in any form. He is not a boss, he is a leader. There is a big difference in those terms. Think of your job. Get it now?
You should want your man to be worthy enough to be trusted with making decisions for the betterment of the family. It doesn’t mean that you are left out of those decisions. If he is not seen as the head and you are instead, the respect for that man may diminish, not only from you but from any children that may be in the household as well as family and friends outside of that house. No one wants to envision the man as the head of the household as weak and you know you don’t either.
3) Loving – A real man expresses his emotions. What?!?! Some of you re-read that sentence and let out a groan. No, really. It’s the truth …at least according to these men. Real men are not afraid to express love, hurt, confusion, affection, pain, and all those other emotions that we women sometimes think they don’t have.
It’s interesting because I have a friend (a real man) that is very expressive with his emotions and I had never encountered another man who was that open before meeting him. Initially, I thought this was odd. I once shared with him some actions of another male and this man broke down the probable emotions of that male to explain that person’s actions. I had never honestly thought about men having emotions nor did I connect those probable emotions with their actions. I was just chalking it up to stupidity. After speaking with this friend, I began to see other men friends as different people…with emotions.
Recently, I began working on a book about the life lessons learned from failed relationships through submitted stories. Initially, I only expected women to submit their tales of horrible relationship experiences that ended up teaching them something about themselves. Surprisingly, more men submitted than women. These men were relieved to have an outlet to share their stories of failed love. I was shocked, yet this only confirmed my new enlightenment, that real men have emotions just like women. Ain’t that something? Women, you have learned something new today – men have emotions and they want to be able to share them without your judgement.
Although there are plenty other characteristics about what makes an adult male a man, we can call agree that being an adult male does not automatically make you a man. Is that adult male consistently responsible? Is that adult male worthy of leadership? Can that adult male express his emotions in a healthy manner? If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, then maybe you have a man on your hands.
Your challenge of the day is to share this piece with an adult male in your life and get their feedback. Ask them what other qualities they think makes an adult male a man and then have a healthy conversation to ensure that the little ones that look up to the adult males in their environment have access to a real man. Children learn from the people in their environment. Make sure you are doing your part for the sake of their healthy upbringing.