This is an excerpt from an article in the 2015 issue of Ebony Magazine, titled, I am a Man.
The path to manhood has more curves than Rihanna. How does a dude know when he’s grown? George James, Psy.D., gives EBONY the ultimate man milestones.
Every guy has a different definition of manhood, and every boy has his own time-date stamp on the moment he finally becomes a man. It’s understandable. There’s no pamphlet that details the cojones-building process. The truth is, everyone goes through a series of unique experiences that shape the type of person he becomes, and those experiences dictate when a man officially describes himself as “grown.” Erik Erikson, a well-respected theorist in the world of psychology, is known for his ideologies on stages of human development, notably age-based events. According to Erikson, each life stage provides a conflict that further defines an individual. In my experience, the road to manhood mimics this process but has nothing to do with age. A traumatic moment can make a teenaged boy man up over the course of a few months. Similarly, immaturity can stifle growth, causing a lad to repeat the same mistakes well into his 40s.
Almost 15 years ago, I started For Brothers Only, a men’s group with the goal of bolstering emotional, physical, financial and spiritual empowerment. The meetup allowed guys to build strong friendships and to challenge and support each other. Even better, the members realized they shared common pitfalls. Openly discussing these life lessons proved a godsend for some. You live and learn, right? On the basis of my experiences with the group, my clinical practice and interactions with men across the country, I’ve come up with six key situations that usually are signs of man maturity. Do these resonate with you?
- I Am King.
“One rainy afternoon, my mom’s car hydroplaned; she died a few days later. My dad, five siblings and I were lost,” John Taylor recalls. “ Her death forced me into independence, self-discovery and taking responsibility for my choices. I went away to college; there, I determined whether I attended class or slept in and what I wanted to do with my life. Those lessons were instrumental in my becoming who I am today.” The moment you decide not to let challenges, disappointments and hardships leave you in a perpetual state of victimhood is a key turning point in maturity. Furthermore, being accountable for your choices and understanding how they impact your emotional and financial quality of life is a game changer for every man.
- I’m Moving On Up. “I’m the first male on my father’s side to complete undergraduate school,” says Marcus Morales. “I felt like I was starting a new movement in which the boys will be able to go further and value education.” The realization that he’s the first one in the family to reach an educational peak, whether it’s college or a trade, is another maturation point for a man. At this moment, he recognizes the opportunity to establish independence. He also realizes his choices have repercussions that surpass personal consequence. He is a role model.
Read the full article here.
Dr. George James, Jr., Psy.D, LMFT
Director of the Department of Couple and Family Therapy, Thomas Jefferson University
215-382-6680 ext. 4128
Dr. James is a consultant, coach, public speaker, and a licensed Couple and Family Therapist. George specializes in helping couples managing conflict in their relationship, professional athletes looking to explore their emotions on and off the field, as well as adolescents and adult men exploring their identity, or issues around fatherhood, career, etc. George is also as an AAMFT Approved supervisor at Council For Relationships and the Program Director for the Couple & Family Therapy Program at Thomas Jefferson University.