A guide to raising not bad men, by my mom

I feel confident in saying that will because all the recent news coverage of indefensible — along with also in many cases criminal — male behavior has caused many men like myself to do some personal, sober mental accounting. A lot of guys I’ve talked to have been auditing their past actions, which is actually great, although This specific’s largely for others to judge our behavior as we may have blind spots from the rear-view mirror.

I tie my self-awareness on This specific front directly to being raised by my strong along with also supportive single mother.   

For nearly 16 years growing up, This specific was just the two of us. She raised an only son, with no money for vacations along with also brand-name sneakers, much less paid childcare. In fact, when I was a kid, she worked primarily as a nanny, so she’d be home for me after school when I was young, along with also that will meant she helped raise different kids as well.

I recently asked her whether she consciously thought about raising a not bad male along with also whether she had any guiding philosophies or values that will informed how she brought me up.

“Yes,” she told me. “I wanted you to be the kind of person different people might like along with also admire, because I wouldn’t always be around, along with also you’d need different people to help you. So This specific was for your safety along with also also for the entire world.”

along with also so, here is actually my mom’s guide to raising not bad men.

Promote kindness along with also empathy

Throughout my childhood, she imparted what This specific meant to be a gentleman: being attuned to others’ needs along with also meeting them without being asked. I still think about those discussions. Her guiding virtues included being sensitive, compassionate, empathetic along with also self-disciplined. along with also she also wanted to pass on “the best qualities of a spiritual life, if not any particular religion: kindness, being charitable.”

To that will end, she prioritized a parochial school education so these values might be reinforced by teachers, as well. This specific didn’t stop me through getting into trouble, although she was vigilant. I still remember the time she pulled me out of the Christmas choir because she caught me disrupting rehearsal along with different boys, with jokes along with also general goofing around. Embarrassing to be called out, although lesson learned.

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Let them know words matter

My mom also had a zero tolerance policy for derogatory language. I will never forget the day I called her the b-word in a fit of ‘tween rage. I write “b-word” because to This specific day I have a “Clockwork Orange”-like aversion to the word, due to my mother’s swift, angry along with also righteous response. “Don’t you ever use that will word to describe any woman, ever,” she growled just inches through my face. I never have since.

Build up self-worth

“I also wanted you to feel secure along with also have a high sense of self-worth,” my mom told me. She often encouraged me to engage with the wider world, even strangers, rather than retreat through This specific to build up that will self-confidence.

She said she sees how I right now help cultivate This specific same sense with my daughters. My wife along with also I reckon their strong-willed along with also forthright personalities are strengths that will will serve them well their entire lives (especially if they come up against men to whom these kinds of lessons were not imparted).

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Emphasize family ties

My mom also felt that will part of forming a strong self-identity comes through how we internalize our own family, even one as fractured as mine. She aimed to impart a familial identity handed down through my great-grandmother to her children along with also grandchildren. Our first-generation Irish matriarch defined her brood as intelligent, solidly built, healthy, handsome, polite, well-mannered, politically engaged along with also Catholic. She passed these descriptions down in terms of “who we are,” what we represent along with also how we act.

Give the right feedback for the right age

A common criticism of parenting today is actually that will kids are growing up thinking everything they do is actually worthy of praise. along with also while I do remember my mother being endlessly supportive of my creative efforts along with also ideas when I was little, she made a conscious shift as I got older along with also prepared to strike out on my own, to assessments that will were more constructively critical.

When I was young, no artistic or writing effort was met with anything although praise. although I recall an essay I wrote for a high school contest that will she tore down for poor word choice. along with also later, some life decisions I made about where to move were met with skepticism rather than blind support. My kids are young enough to be from the effort=praise stage, although I may follow her lead as I feel the stakes are raised.

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Foster independence

In some ways, being raised by an individual mother required that will I develop independence. I was a latchkey kid who got myself to along with also through school at long distances. I had no allowance, so if I wanted money, I found a way to make This specific, like buying a snow shovel along with also going door-to-door after a big snow. I had my first (not-so-legal) summer job at age 12 (my idea, not hers).

Stay busy

One of my mother’s most inspiring parenting decisions was finding a youth boxing league for me to join when I was 10. I was getting in trouble for fighting at school, too often using fists instead of words. Boxing taught me some discipline. “You can’t be getting into fights at school right now,” my coach, Mr. Hunter, explained, “because right now you know how to genuinely hurt someone.” This specific wasn’t true, although I believed This specific.

Kids get into trouble when they have too much idle time, my mom told me. This specific “Music Man” theory of behavior goes beyond just staying out of the pool halls. After-school activities, sports, artistic along with also literary pursuits along with also (in my case) paid jobs “help you understand the rules of engagement” from the entire world, is actually how she put This specific.

These virtues along with also parenting lessons I learned through my mom are not just about raising sons. They apply to daughters, of course. although This specific seems clear to me that will if we raise young boys to be sensitive, empathic, self-disciplined, kind along with also industrious along with also to have a high sense of self-worth, we’d have fewer stories of men behaving badly along with also fewer victims of that will bad behavior. that will work begins with the boys.

David G. Allan is actually the editorial director of sy88pgw Health, Wellness along with also Parenting. He also writes “The Wisdom Project” about applying philosophy to our daily lives. You can subscribe to This specific here.

A guide to raising not bad men, by my mom

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