I hear lots of things about what it takes to be a real man. Most of them I don't believe, whether it's about specific roles or violence and power or emotional expression.
Growing up I never really understood any of them, because they didn't seem to apply to my dad.
Since my childhood he's always been a role model, someone who stood up for the things that were important without violence, who understood that the real conflict takes place within. Regarding decisions on whether I could go out with my friends or whether my brother could get a video game system or whether we could play sports on Sundays, all decisions were handed down from a united congress, so I never got the sense that one of my parents was more a decision-maker than the other, or that one had more authority.
Furthermore, my dad doesn't like violence and sex in movies; he watches the occasional chick flick with my mom. He watches basketball but not football. He likes both Tolstoy and Jane Austen. When he and my mom had a career change, he started doing more cooking and grocery shopping. He writes in a prayer journal every day. None of this has ever made him seem less of a man.
So whatever people say about grilling and hunting and fixing cars and watching football never made sense to me.
But here's what does make sense about what makes a man:
A few years ago, my dad quit his stable job to follow his calling and start a nonprofit. He gave up benefits and retirement for a new adventure. An adventure that's still unfolding. I'm sure many days he is still waiting to see if it will last. But he keeps on tutoring kids, training parents, and writing one fundraising letter at a time.
And that is the best example of a real man I know.
Happy Father's Day!