09/01/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Teenage Boy's View of Good Men

I asked my son Seamus, who is a 13-year-old soon-to-be-eighth-grader at Boston College High, to read Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx because I thought it would allow us talk about some important father-son topics. The book is about a NFL Hall of Famer who has decided to teach boys how to play football not to win games but to become good men. Seamus liked the book so much (his school's motto is "be a man for others") that he asked to contribute a blog. -TOM MATLACK


Economic status, athletic ability, and sexual competence are the three things that make up false manhood. Think about it. Have you ever been judged or judged someone on one or all of those three things? I know I have. And that's because in our country today those are the three things that make people think your cool or popular in high school, and successful when you're an adult.

For me the second and the third are the two I can relate to the most. Schools even create the idea that being athletic is great, especially when the schools' sports teams are good and extremely hard to make. So it automatically separates people, excludes them. It makes some kids looked at as the better men/boys/teenagers because they were more physically fit to be on a team. It's also the macho factor, which means if someone is better than you physically then they would be able to beat you in anything physical, especially a fight. It's basically the same thing with sexual competence. If a girl wants to do something sexual with you, then that must mean you're better than someone else, who she doesn't want to do the same thing with. This again leads to separation and exclusion of people. Finally there is economic status, which I believe is the worst one, because money is something that is the ultimate excluder. But also it is something that rewards people who are good at only certain things. For example, you may be very good at playing guitar, just as good as someone is with trading stocks, but the person who works with stocks will be rewarded with more money, even though you both have the same amount of talents.

To love, and to be able to receive love are the two things that make up true manhood. What this means is people who are able to give and receive love and are able to build relationships are more likely to be happy with their manhood in life. When you're on your death bed and your looking back on your life will you feel happy that you had more money than any body in your family, or that you started every game for your high school basketball team, or that you got to third base with a girl on prom night? I don't think so. And if you do, then you probably had an empty life, because what you should feel happy about is that you were a good father, a good son, a good brother, a good friend.

What it comes down to is being a man for others. This means a man who is not self-centered. He puts others' needs before his and makes sure he helps everyone around him and not just himself. The men for others are the real men in the world. Not the ultimate fighters, or the rich stock brokers, or the pimps and players, because nothing of what they do matters all that much to anyone beside themselves. So instead of worrying about getting that big promotion, or making a certain team, or even if you're going to get lucky, worry about what really matters: whether you are a man for all who are around you. --SEAMUS MATLACK

Men have always been fathers, sons, husbands and providers.
But this generation faces unspoken challenges to our manhood.
We are more alike than we know.
We all have a story to tell.
We all want to be good men.