Manhood. What is it? In our Western culture, not only men but women receive a lot of mixed messages of when they have reached adulthood. In most states, you can get a learner’s permit at the age of 15. At the age of 17 or 18, many young adults graduate from high school and go to college or enter the workforce. Is this adulthood? You can join the military and die for your country at the age of 18. Is this adulthood? At age 21, young men and women are of legal drinking age. Is this adulthood? At the age of 25, you are of age and have the ability to rent a car. Is this adulthood?
Women have a biological change into women hood with their first menstrual cycle and change in the hips, breasts and weight. Men have their first biological change with puberty, an erection or a wet dream. So perhaps this is adulthood.
I frequently ask the men in my recovery groups when they became men? I receive all kinds of responses from their first sexual experience, their first cigarette, graduation from high school, graduation from college, when they got married, after their first child was born, joining the military, obtaining a driver’s license, a hunting license, riding a horse, or getting their first job or paycheck. Men in their 60’s are, oftentimes, not even sure if they are a man yet.
It is not only difficult to determine when they became a man but further yet to identify what is a man. What is a man to act like, look like, or speak like when many men did not have physically or emotionally present fathers? Over the years, I have spoken to thousands of men from prison cells to top CEOs, and the confusion of manhood is not limited to any race, culture, religion or socioeconomic status.
There is certainly a shortage of initiating boys into manhood. Western culture has lost this important tradition. In many other cultures, boys are initiated into manhood at the age of 13 and girls at the age of 12. This is why my wife and I celebrate our daughters’ 12 birthday with a Father’s Blessing and a Mother’s Blessing. The Blessing is a critical piece missing in our culture and in most religious organizations. It is a powerful experience of setting our children up for success by clearly expressing expectations of them as adults under parental care and supervision. Through this process, boys become men and girls become women. Many adult men and women have never experienced a blessing by their father, and this is why we stand in the gap for these individuals at our Annual Couple’s Conference.
Here are some characteristics of men that I have observed over the years who know what a man is and when they became one. So if you are young, old, single or married, here are some observations.
Men Protect the things they love, which means their children and wife. Unfortunately, many little boy’s behaviors show they protect their toys more often than their loved ones. Once married, some have poor boundaries and need to be able to say “no” – even to their own parents. Men protect their own heart and eyes from pornography, lust and temptation by being accountable to other men. At times, men will need to protect the ones they love from themselves and their own issues with anger and addictions. Men also know when they need to go to war figuratively or literally to speak up for what they believe in.
Men Pursue their wife and children by loving the things they love with them. They sacrifice their own selfish desires to help their wife and children become successful. They are not only able to receive love but to fully give love. They do this with excitement and enthusiasm, not resentment and bitterness.
Men Provide for the physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual needs of themselves and others. Men get up each day and go to work doing things they may or may not enjoy doing. They provide for physical needs of themselves and others with food, clothing and shelter, not relying on others to do so for them. Men also pray and are spiritual leaders. They contribute to society by giving to give, not giving to get.
Men understand the Perspective of others and can get out of their own selfish mindset. Men are able to act how they want to feel. They do not allow their emotions to dictate how they act. They not only understand right and wrong, but they understand wise and foolish things. Men are able to honor those they do not agree with. Men are able to encourage those around them without the use of shame just because they might not agree. Men are also able to own when their perspective has been wrong or foolish.
Finally, men Proclaim truth and words of encouragement. They understand the power of the written and spoken words they speak. They speak words of love and encouragement to their wife, children, friends and coworkers. They are people who energize others to be more than they thought they could be. (Little boys whine and always have an excuse for why they failed. They drain the life out of the people around them.) Men understand the law of reaping and sowing, as they harvest the good and bad words they have spoken in love and in anger. Some men are eating some very bitter fruit in their lives and in their relationships. If they want sweeter fruit, they are going to have to sow sweeter words (or seeds). In the meantime, they are going to have to eat the bitter fruit.
Men are Obedient to the calling in their life, Intentional in all that they do, consistently Consistent and Reliable; and finally, they have another man of Authority in their life walking with them on this journey.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.