Vail relationship column: How to raise a boy to be a good man |

Vail relationship column: How to raise a boy to be a good man

In honor of Father’s Day, how do you raise a boy to be a good man? Here are my suggestions about how especially dads can teach their boys about how to become fine men. A mother may teach and model the same things, but boys are more likely to model their dads.

• Treat everyone with respect. Be a gentleman and a good human being. Treat women and girls politely—which means among other things that no female is ever called a bitch, a slut, a whore or any other demeaning term. Stand up for the bullied, and for anyone who is the victim of racism or bigotry and help people who need help. Be respectful to older people, to handicapped people and to people with viewpoints or beliefs that differ from yours. Learn to work well with others and never be a jerk. Kindness is golden.

• Keep your word, be trustworthy and live ethically. Do what you say you will, and don’t make excuses when you fail to live up to your agreements. Live honorably and with integrity, and be worthy of trust. Take accountability for your words, deeds and behaviors.

• Listen when other people talk. But you also need to identify and verbalize what you’re feeling, so that you will be able to constructively engage in an intimate relationship, as well as resolve conflict, engage in negotiation and be an active participant in joint problem solving.

• Don’t let adversity, failures or rejections stop you. Temporary setbacks are a part of life.

• Be a hard worker. Nobody respects a guy who acts entitled or who appears lazy. Always give 100 percent to what you’re doing — and watch out for distractions, especially electronic distractions. A boy must learn that if he wants a nice life, he must create goals that he tirelessly goes after and works for, that it’s great to aim high but he has to to willing to earn what he gets.

• A boy should learn how to cook, how to do laundry, how to clean a house or apartment and how to keep his room neat. (When you enter into a relationship, your partner does not want to be your maid.) He should know proper grooming and manners, the importance of a firm handshake and that saving money is ultimately wiser than having the newest gadgets.

• Finally, a boy needs to know that it’s manly to love deeply, to be affectionate, empathetic and compassionate. It’s manly to be kind to animals and to protect the environment. A boy who grows up feeling loved, wanted and respected is equipped to become a man who is able to love and give to others—and to give something back to the world.

Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. His column is in its 24th year of publication and is syndicated around the world. You can reach him at 303-758-8777, or email him through his website at He is the author of the new book “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Keeping the Flame Alive.”

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