How to be a father to a young man..?

A friend was asked to comment about being a father to a young man. Quite reasonably, as she was neither male nor a parent, it might be best to reach out to male friends for comment.

My reply: First, he must be an adult–which means responsible for his own emotions and actions, and self-supporting. Responsible for his own security, which means both self-reliance and making alliances with friends and mentors and community for mutual support. These things are critical for either males or females, and the foundation upon which the rest must stand.

Next, I’d say that most of what I’ve accomplished in life has been to gain the respect of the men I respected, and to be attractive to the women I was attracted to. My job would be to help my son prepare to do the same.

The key: love and respect yourself enough to choose those men and women carefully. Who you associate with will have a powerful influence on who you become. Add up the five people you spend the most time with, divide by five, and there you are.

The biggest difference between raising Jason and raising Nicki is clear to me. It would seem to map over with much of what I’ve seen and felt and studied, but is unavoidably anecdotal: what Nicki seemed to need most from me was knowing I loved and protected her. What Jason seems to need most from me is to know that I love him and can kick his ass. One might well say that those are different versions of the same thing…but the difference is fascinating.

And guys…what would be your approach to raising a young man?

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