Opinion/Analysis: Grown Men Are the Solution, Not the Problem

Yesterday afternoon, immediately after the Dallas Cowboys’ hard-fought victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Fox’s Erin Andrews interviewed Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. She asked Elliott what he thought when he saw Prescott take off for a key run that set up the winning touchdown. “It’s simple,” Elliott responded, “He’s a grown-ass man. That’s what it is. That’s how he played today, and he led us to this win.” That’s a phrase you hear a lot in sports. “Grown man.” There’s grown-man football. There’s grown-man basketball. It speaks to a certain style of play. Tough. Physical. Courageous. Overpowering. It’s also fundamentally aspirational. It’s quite safe to say that millions of young boys desire to become a grown man — a person who is physically and mentally tough, a person who can rise to a physical challenge and show leadership under stress. In fact, that’s not just an intellectual goal, it’s a deeply felt need. It’s a response to their essential nature. But becoming a true “grown man” — while a felt need — isn’t an easy process. It involves shaping and molding. It requires mentoring. It requires fathers who are themselves grown men. Turning boys into grown men means taking many of their inherent characteristics — such as their aggression, their sense of adventure, and their default physical strength — and shaping them toward virtuous ends. A strong, aggressive risk-taker can be a criminal or a cop, for example. To borrow from the famous American Sniper speech, they can be a sheepdog or a wolf. And if you’re a father of a young boy or spend much time with young boys — especially if you coach boys in sports — you’ll note a very human paradox. Even as they want to become the grown man they see in their father or in their idols, they’ll often fiercely resist (especially at first) the process. They’ll find the discipline oppressive. Building toughness requires enduring pain. And who likes enduring pain? Effective leaders have to have a degree of stoicism, but it can be hard to suppress natural emotions to see reality clearly. Nothing about this process is easy. Some fathers default to cruelty as a teaching tool, with disastrous results. Others are deeply intolerant of differences, rejecting or even bullying those boys who don’t conform to masculine norms — thus driving them into deep despair. But while the process of raising that grown man isn’t easy, it is necessary. Evidence of its necessity is all around us. While a male elite thrives in the upper echelons of commerce, government, the military, and sports, men are falling behind in school, committing suicide, and dying of overdoses at a horrifying rate, and their wages have been erratic — but still lower (in adjusted dollars) than they were two generations ago. Men still make more money than women, but to see the differences in wage growth, click here to see these two charts from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis., and read the rest of the article.

Some outstanding research on this timely issue by attorney, and Army Reserve officer (Major), David French.  David was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.

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