As a maker, a man understands the value of things. He understands the time, effort, and craftsmanship that go into a quality product. So he doesn’t just toss it aside when it becomes worn or needs repair. Instead, a real man mends. He takes time to understand the thing he values so he can have a better idea of what went wrong. Then, he sets about to correct it as best he can.
We can teach our boys this skill. Teach them to be curious. Let them ask questions and then teach them where to look for the answers. Teach them to figure it out.
Teach boys to tinker – to repair. Help them repair beloved toys. Teach them to repair small appliances. Learn together how to code computers. Teach them to repair clothing, vehicles, furniture, walls. Let them watch you do it. It’s not about saving money but about appreciating the value of things.
Teach them how to value relationships. Model for them how to repair relationships after disagreements. Let them watch how you do it.
Model how to express yourself with integrity and respect; but then too how to value the relationship over the egos need to “win”. Show them the value of compromise and cooperation.
Let Them Learn By Watching You
Let boys learn that real men are virtuous. They work to make themselves better each day. They identify virtues they want to see more of in the world – truth, honor, kindness, justice, integrity – and they mend their own behavior towards those virtues. Failures are opportunities to grow, to become better, stronger.
Let boys hear you say “I’m sorry.” Let them hear you say “I was wrong.” Let them hear you take responsibility without making excuses. Then let them see how you make amends – by putting things back as close to how they were before as possible and then endeavoring to make it even better.
Let them see forgiveness for what it is – a sign of strength. Let them learn through your example to hold themselves to a higher standard while extending grace and kindness to others. Not because others necessarily deserve it, but because it provides us with an opportunity to become the best man we can be.
And when good men strive to be the best they can be the entire community benefits.
PS – If the boy asks “But what about getting even? What about people getting what they deserve?” Perhaps you’ll find guidance in addressing his concern in this story of Marcus Aurelius.
Dr. Sean Smitham, Ph.D. a licensed Clinical Psychologist and family therapist who lives and practices in Spokane, Washington.