A Letter to My Son About Manhood
I hope you know how fortunate you are to have a father who is a very active part of your life. From the moment you were born, all I had to do was look at your father’s face and I knew he was fully committed to doing everything in his power to help you turn into a wonderful man.
Manhood is a complicated thing, and because of that I decided to write you this letter. Although your father and I share the same values, as a woman I think I have a slightly different view of manhood than he does. And, although I know you will meet women throughout your life who can tell you what they think it means to be a man, I think there is some added value in getting that information from the first woman who met you – the woman who gave you life.
One of the most important things you need to know about manhood is actually one of the most important things I want your sister to know about womanhood – you have to know who you are. Don’t ever let societal pressures cause you to behave in a manner that isn’t consistent with who you know you are. Remember that everyone has their own perception of how a black man should behave, but what matters is how you define yourself. It’s not about being macho, or tough, or hard – it’s about being real with yourself. Always.
Over time, you will form relationships with women who honestly have no idea what it means to be a man. Maybe it’s because they’ve never had a relationship with a strong, positive male figure. Whatever the case may be, they may have this inaccurate perception of what your role is in their life and what you should be bringing to the table.
I can tell you that as a woman, being a man means that you are kind and you know how to stand up for yourself and for others. Being a man means that injustice makes you angry. Being a man means that you are in touch with your emotions and you know how to express yourself. Manhood means being able to cry and making no apologies for it. It also means you are able to just walk away from any conversation or situation if you feel like your temper is escalating and may lead to a bad decision. Manhood is about knowing yourself well enough to keep yourself out of trouble.
I also want you to know that a man knows how to provide, but let me clarify this point. You are to be no one’s sugar daddy. Buying a woman presents because you are courting her is one thing, but spending countless dollars on a woman who makes you feel like spending money is the only way to keep her – well, that is a bunch of crap. Wait until you find the right woman – the one who is truly worth your time – and then spend all you’d like, because you will know she is worthy.
Although some women will make you think your manhood is directly connected to how much you make, how much you are willing to spend on them, what kind of car your drive, or how angry you get over them (or on their behalf), I want you to know that manhood is so much deeper than that. It’s about knowing right from wrong, being strong in your convictions, following your heart, and protecting what matters most to you in life.
I have no doubt you will be a wonderful man. As long as you never let anyone tell you how you should act or who you should be, you will make your dad, yourself, and me proud.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Martine Foreman is the editor and co-founder of JustDiva, a lifestyle email publication for today’s Modern Black Woman. To follow her funny and candid take on balancing life as a wife, mom and entrepreneur, you can also check out her personal blog, CandidBelle.