If I could teach a boy to be a man, I'd tell him to play football. Or take up theater. I hope he'd learn that neither measures the man.
I'd tell him his mother may have read his mind when he was eight, but it was an easy guess that he felt sad after losing his soccer game. Mature men must communicate their feelings and needs--with mature words.
I'd advise him that sending flowers is always, always good. Sending them for no reason at all? Even better. And when he calls the florist, he should be sure to remember his mom.
I'd explain that being a father requires that he discipline. And also that he hug. Real men know the appropriate time for each and that the two actions are not mutually exclusive.
I would tell him to compromise when he should and apologize when he's wrong. Being a man does not mean command and control. Nor does it mean blind surrender.
I'd suggest that it's all hunky-dory if she cooks and he mows the lawn, but that defined roles only work if both partners embrace them. I'd add that raising children is a tag-team sport, even if she happens to be a stay-at-home mom. I'd remind him, softly, that his six-year-old son won't be there for bedtime stories forever.
I'd warn him that being a hard worker is an asset, but caring about nothing but his career will just make him an ass.
I would ask him to call his mother--and his father--more often. Mothers may be more vocal about it, but fathers miss their grown children too.
I'd let him know that it's OK to cry if his favorite pet dies. Tears won't make him less manly, only more human.
I would tell him he's free to ignore anyone's advice or opinion. But a real man takes the time to listen before he disagrees.
And if he disagrees with me, I hope I'm woman enough to admit if I am wrong.
If you could teach a boy to be a man, what would you tell him?