Thursday, March 25, 2010

What is a real man?

This question was posed to me by a student rather out of nowhere during my Homework Support class and the first thought that came into my head was that the question seemed loaded, so I asked for some context. It took a second for the real reason emerged. Apparently, this student had been poked and prodded by another student to such a degree that he just lost it and ended up punching the kid. Administratively, this led to a stern talking to, but more important to him was the effect the event was having on his friendships.

“They’re all keeping their distance,” he said, sullenly. “I don’t know what to do.”

We talked a while about the whole situation with the punching (I was only vaguely familiar with it through rumors) and I said that, although I totally sympathized with his situation, this was a classic example of how one can win a fight, but still lose.

A real man, I said, is one who understands this and works to avoid such situations and, perhaps more importantly, does his best to make things as right as he can when he realizes he’s lost.

I suggested he approach one of the people in his group of friends whose opinion he particularly values. He mentioned this one girl whom I know fairly well. I suggested that he ask to take a moment of her time to explain the following:

He understood that his actions made her and others feel uncomfortable,
He was sorry,
He valued her friendship,
He hoped they could work together to mend their relationship.

I told him that it was entirely likely that she wouldn’t know what to say to all that in the moment, and not to force the issue. All he needed to do is say his piece, be respectful and say thank you, then let things happen as they will.

He thought I was crazy.

Then he came to me just before I left for the day.

He asked me to help him set up a meeting between him and his friend.

I’ll report what happens tomorrow.

What do you think? What does a real man do here?

1 comment:

the passionate hairdresser said...

I totally understand your students dilemma, from punching someone out of frustration to feeling the need to approach his friends! The key is for the apology to be genuine and heartfelt...a quick "D'OH! I'm sorry...hehehehe" doesn't quite cut it. To my mind, a real man makes mistakes, admits his mistakes, atones (in some way) for his mistakes, LEARNS from his mistakes, and doesn't make them again...which is really hard to do. I've received many apologies, over the years, from people(posing as men, I might add) who appeared genuine, yet, sadly, were not... Guessing that's why I'm so bitter about things...However, I like how you counselled him! :) Hopefully, his friends will react in a positive manner...