5 Secrets to Being an Excellent Male Role Model

"I believe the children are our future"

The great American writer James Baldwin said: ‘Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.’ This of course is true, and when you look around the world today and see some of the men on whom young boys are modelling themselves, it’s also kind of terrifying.

No one wants to condemn all men. That would be as ridiculous as condemning all women, all people born in April, or all bankers. (Although the last is pretty difficult to resist.) Though blanket discrimination is a waste of time and helps no one, it has to be said that some men are as good at modelling good behaviour as Nigel Farage is at diplomacy. And it is for those men that we have compiled this list of five tips for being a great male role model…

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1) Give a Damn. If you genuinely don’t, there’s probably little to be done. But if you do and you’re just not managing to show it, try harder. Nothing stays with a child more than when the adults in their life (and men are guiltier of this than women) do not engage or are simply not present. Be engaged. Be reliable. Be present.

2) Ease off on the Macho Posturing. Maybe that’s how you are. Maybe you’re never happier than when you’re pumping iron and downing pints and getting in fights and laughing at people who prefer reading to being punched in the face, but let’s face it: it hasn’t made you happy. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being a rough and tumble, engines and tattoos, football and fists kind of bloke, but kids need to know there are more options available. They also need to feel comfortable in themselves if they happen to be a little more sensitive than you.

3) Have Fun! You might be a boss at work, and maybe you’re the shouty, aggressive kind of boss that everyone hates and secretly dreams of murdering. Maybe you find that gets results at work. Maybe it does. But not at home. Loosen up, for pity’s sake. Make the child in your life laugh and you make them happy. Have fun with them! Play games. Play sports. Play silly devils. Play helps kids develop and interact and it encourages creativity. It’s good for you too by the way, and maybe when you get good at it, you could try being less of a dick at work too.

4) Teach Them What You Know. Kids need to learn how to do things – everything from tying their shoe-laces and riding a bike to washing up and planting vegetables. Teach them what you know with patience, forgiveness, praise and good humour. Be selfless with your time and your skills. They will love you for it.

5) Love them. It’s what you were made to do. If you’ve forgotten how, let them show you. The best role models don’t just teach the kids in their lives, they learn too. Love is a perfectly reciprocal arrangement and absolutely the most important positive thing you can do with your life.

‘I believe the children are our future.’ It’s not just a cheesy lyric from a sentimental song. It’s true. And they all need positive role models!

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