Since many of us are defining manliness as the opposite of childishness (http://artofmanliness.com/2010/05/16/what-is-manliness/), this seems like a logical question. I hope most of you agree that we should let kids be kids, so where should we draw the line and start expecting boys to act like men?

Is it when you're a legal adult (i.e. 18)? When you're a teenager? When you're done with school and enter the workforce? When you have your Bar-Mitzvah? Or, is it different for everyone?


I think that setting an arbitrary age would be silly, since transitioning from boy to man isn't something that happens overnight. However, saying it should happen "when you're ready" seems like it's just asking for man-boyism, since someone can always claim they're not ready to become a man yet. What do you think?

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People mature at different rates, physically and mentally. I think that if you let them experience life, work, responsibility and teach them well that they will become fine men in their time.
You don't become a man, it's a process that takes a life time.
I think that one becomes a "man" when they accept responsibility for themselves and others. For some this happens when they are teens for others it may never happen.

I agree with this 100%. We expect children to be less responsible, so we have to teach them to be responsible. For some this may happen sooner or later. To clarify my original question though, would you say there is an age at which you should expect somebody to take responsibilty for themselves and others?
I don't think you can really nail down an age per se. I think there is a range however when boys transition from being boys to being men. This age has gradually gone up as the benefits of a modern society have made it much easier for boys to remain boys well into their 20's and even 30's. Gone are the days when you quit school as soon as you were able in order to help tend the farm, milk the cows, and help raise a family of younger siblings just so you all wouldn't starve to death. Years ago, a boy transitioned into manhood at a much younger age.

I'd say the age where a boy should be able to transition into manhood is between 17-20 years old. Of course, as he ages he will mature, but by 21 a young man should have learned the proper and mature behavior expected from a man. For some it may come sooner, for some later.
This age has gradually gone up as the benefits of a modern society have made it much easier for boys to remain boys well into their 20's and even 30's.

You nailed why I'm asking the question in the first place. One of the goals of this site seems to be helping those 20-somethings (of which I am one) make the transition to manhood. So it seems necessary to say when we should expect this transition to begin to take place. We don't expect a 6-year-old to act like a man, but we do expect it of a 50-year-old, so there's got to be an age (or age range) somewhere in there when we expect boys to start acting like men.

Late teens/early-20s is when I feel boys should step out into the world and start becoming their own man, although the precise age will depend on the individual. This isn't to say that the person needs to become a 100% complete and perfect man by that age, just that they should start taking their first steps into adulthood.
It's best at the time of initiation. (I think the Bar Mitzvah is too young. Catholic confirmation is not initiation into manhood, and even so may be too young, being at around 17.) I think around 20 might be ideal, and should be accompanied by the boy leaving home and gaining some real independence. Just an opinion.
Agreed Will. I left home at 18 years old to live on my own. I didn't know jack about being a man, but I went out there anyway. By 19 I was in the military which I look on as my rite of passage into manhood. At the time I thought I was ready to go out and be a man. Later I'd find out I wasn't, but I never would have been able to step over that threshold from boy to man had I not left home and gained real independence.
The best way I can sum this up is, "a boy becomes a man when he is willing to do something he dose not want to do but knows he must do it, and be willing to take responablilty for his actions good or bad". This could be as simple as taking care of his little sister or having to go off to war to protect his country.
I am reading Do Hard Things (Amazon affiliated link) to my children (the oldest is 9) for school. As a family, we are all being challenged by this book.

The idea is not to wait around for a particular coming-of-age milestone, but to live at your full potential at any age. The word teenager was first introduced into pop culture in 1941 in Reader's Digest.

Excellent examples of real people in history - George Washington, David Farragut and Clara Barton, to name a few - who began their life's training when they were preteens. It proves that adolescence is a myth and a buzz word for "low expectations". Book encourages young people to be rebellious against low expectations :)

Highly recommend.
+1
I see a lot of explanations that say something along the lines that everyone matures at different rates. Perhaps boys mature at different rates, because they have different levels of expectation for them from their parents. I think a better question woud be, "When should we expect a boy to be a man". Some boys will fail to live up to expectation (perhaps due to an inherently slower maturation timeline), but failure is a necessity to success.

I think that we should look a cultural markers to determine appropriate expectations for manhood. The biggest marker in American culture is high school graduation. This typically happens around age 18. This coincides with the ability to sign contracts on your own behalf, and legal responsibility for ones self. However, I think it is silly to wait until one can do so much damage to himself to expect him to be a man. Another important marker in a boy's life is when he can obtain a driver's license. This is typically at age 16 in the US (varies from state to state). It represents freedom, responsibility, and an increase in options. However, I could not in good conscience as a father only expect my boy to enter manhood after he learns to operate a multi-ton weapon (aka, vehicle). One marker I think fits best for modern US society is the age at which you can join the armed services. In the US this is 15.5 years (Nat'l Guard). My expectation for my son (if I have one) will be to reach manhood by this age. It is my responsibility as his father the help him achieve this goal, and his failure will be my failure. This does not mean that I think a man should reach full emotional maturity by 15.5 (that can last until age 25 in a well adjusted man), but a boy should be mature enough by this age to be considered a man.
I agree that there is a progression going from boy to man. However, even young boys can "man-up" from time to time. My son is expected to hold doors for others, especially momma. He is also expected to give back, which he does by being an alter boy at church and helping me and the other Knights of Columbus men with some of our charity works. Good sportsmanship is not optional but expected.

It starts when they are young and with small maybe even token acts of manliness and continues to grow.

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