Manhood Is Not the Problem: Teach Your Sons to Be Men

Teaching our boys to be men is not dangerous, and we fathers should not shrink from this essential task.

I read an article from a major publication earlier this year explaining how mass shootings are not the fault of too many guns or mental illness, but … brace yourself … manhood itself. Not bad men. Not violent men. The cause is simply men, period. As a man and the father of a young man, I was stunned at the audacity — and ignorance — of such a statement in an otherwise serious publication. As if manhood were a social disease or mental condition!

Teaching our boys to be men is not dangerous, and we fathers should not shrink from this essential task. Every community requires it. We did some research here at Focus on the Family, examining the qualities of manhood that are most valued across human cultures. These characteristics were quite similar from place to place. Wherever we find a community teaching and praising positive manhood, we find the following qualities in men.


Men will face danger and difficulty when called upon.


When a need arises, a man gets involved.


Men do the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reason. A man is dependable and keeps his word. He doesn’t exploit the weakness of the innocent.


Men are aware of and respect the proper limits for themselves and call others to do the same.


Men show respect to those they meet, regardless of station.


Men are loyal to their family and friends, even at great price to themselves.


Men understand there is strength in apologizing and asking forgiveness when they have offended others or let them down.

You can help your son learn these qualities by observing and pointing out the actions of men who model these traits. Together, watch for men doing simple things to solve problems or serve others. Here are some examples:

  • A man who quickly stands in a meeting to offer his chair to someone who just arrived.
  • A man who clears plates and collects trash at a picnic.
  • A man who steps up to lead a group activity when no one else is sure what to do.

Men who provide these positive examples and are motivated to demonstrate their manhood in such constructive ways are anything but harmful. And hopefully, their example becomes contagious. What community does not appreciate and benefit from such men stepping up?

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