I recently wrote a post about A Legacy of Guiding Principles. Today, I was reading through the recent threads on TJEdMuse and saw this question and thought I would address it here. I feel it follows the "Legacy" post well-- Edward Mowbray Tuttle was just such a "Real Man!" He reached out to those he taught and tried to help them become "Real Men and Real Women." First, I will include the TJEdMUSE post that got me thinking, then my response:
I have a request for you wonderful ladies (and gentlemen!)
I am really frustrated in the image of manhood that the world is pushing. Despite all we do, my sons still seem to be getting the wrong message about what it is to be a "real man." One son in particular seems to gravitate towards the idea of a real man being very muscular, rough around the edges, glamorous ladies hanging all around him. You get the idea.
Now, we hardly watch any TV (just movies occasionally) and we mostly read classics, but the influence of those around us is still seeping in somehow. His church youth group only seems to be perpetuating these false ideas, with body building leaders whose wives are walking pornography in church. (sigh)
Anyhow, here is my request: I am trying to compile a list of classics that contain stories about "real men". My definition of real men would be men that have high moral standards, stand up for girls and women, protecting and admiring their femininity and virtue, do "hard things" for the good of others, value things of worth over the frivolous, you get the idea.
What are your favorites?
I've just started so my list is still small. So far I've got Almonzo Wilder in The Long Winter, Laddie (both he and his father being good examples of this).
Also, what are you doing in your home to teach these lessons to your sons?
Thanks in advance,
I am glad you brought this up. Both boys and girls are bombarded with "worldly images" in the media of what real men or a real women are. This causes many to try and mimic their idols, or seek trophy dates and mates, only to find unhappiness. The media focuses on outward appearance and behavior.
Young girls are taught by media that the ideal is to be over consumed with thinness, to be glamourous, sexy, self indulgent, and unrefined. They are also taught by media to look for "hot" or "sexy"guys. Young men are encouraged to look edgy, sexy, to dress unkept, to be unshaven, and to spike their hair and look like they just stepped out of bed or the shower, to spend hours building their bodies, and not their minds and hearts. Likewise young men have an unrealistic and unhealthy view provided by the media of what is ideal in a woman.
Real Men" and "Real Women" in the past were mentored and nurtured by the "Real Men" and "Real Women" in their lives. They had role models, both living, in the scriptures, and in the classics. Men helped raise barns and cabins; hunted together; and often helped each other get the crops in before the storm, thus providing for their families. "Real Women" worked together at quilting bees, gathered to create charity baskets, and nurtured the women in their lives during sickness and childbirth, thus nurturing their families and communities.
What you are talking about seems to be the refinement of character. I feel that our sons need more than a list of classics, or even a Frog Prince Charm School, to combat these worldly images! I feel they need more than refinement of character to be a "Real Man." Young men and young women need more than role models in books, they need role models in their lives and they need to develop skills of manhood and womanhood. In times past, both girls and boys learned to pray, basic skills and developed character at their mother's knee. Young men not only learned what it means to be a "Real Man" from association with the "Real Men" in their lives, but they also learned and honed the skills needed for manhood. Young women, likewise learned from the women in their lives and gained needed skills to become such, from those relationships. In the hero journey or cycle of life, the associations and education of their youth equipped them for life.
In 2006, my youngest daughter was eight. I created a group for her that would focus on helping her become a "real woman" and prepare her for a whole life and not just a career. She is the daughter of The King and with that comes great responsibility to develop refined qualities and prepare for her life mission. I wrote and taught about the difference between Beauty and Glamour, Grace and Tolerance. This led to my graduate thesis of The Hope Chest Journey: Rediscovering the Lost Arts of Godly Womanhood, which led to the Lost Arts Series. I have promoted the "Hope Chest Journey" for girls and their mothers since 2006.
However, I have more sons than daughters. Others asked me what should they do with their boys? Some wanted to start groups for their boys. Those can be good, but I feel they are not ideal. I feel sons need to be with their fathers, especially once they are twelve. Boy Scouting can be a good avenue, provided the fathers are involved, but even this is lacking. Mothers can be "Real Women" and talk to their husbands about their concerns. Too often moms and dads had bought into the media view and have some "becoming" to do themselves, before they can guide their children. So, We get to be the change we wish to see! Parents can map out together a plan to help their children become what they need to be, and to help them have a better view of a "real" mate that will compliment who they become. To help with this process, I articulated the:
* Principle Themed Bundles to help moms teach the principles to their children, not just their daughters. Many of the principles of refinement and character are not gender specific. All children need to learn the value of a well furnished mind, diplomacy, hospitality, eloquence of speech, writing, comeliness of dress, grace, and more. These principles are not just for our daughters, but our sons also.
We also started a book list for boys and have not yet completed all of its annotations, but the list is coming. Also to be considered, there are lost arts for young men, as well. Developing only the body, or rebelling against the culture and developing only the mind, leaves an incomplete man. I feel we need to develop his hands to work and his heart to God, as well!
There are men and women present and past that exemplify virtue and valor. We have created some vignettes in this regard, to hold up examples to us and our youth-
* Read books to their families that promote real manhood
* Seek to build community of like minded families
* Take care to make sure they do things that help develop the heart, might, mind, and strength of their children
* Make sure their children have the opportunity to value and develop valuable skills that will bless their lives.
That was what the development of Princess Circles were all about--mothers and daughters gathering monthly to discuss shared readings; sharing and learning skills; and learning to serve. The same could happen if fathers caught a vision- perhaps a fireside chat, camping, learning indoor and outdoor skills from each other. Hence, the need to for parents to discuss the challenges their children face and come up with a plan to address those challenges. Happy planning!