Fathers are genetically driven to be overprotective of our daughters. We do the best we can to teach them how to demand respect, and we pray that we never catch them in "Girls Gone Wild" foolishness. But fathers and stepfathers to teenage boys has an even more daunting task: to teach his sons how to be men.
Fathers, teach your sons what respect means. It seems to be a quality lost on a new generation of boys, and we all must collectively take responsibility for that. Too often we dismiss bad behavior as "just a guy thing." Too often, we even reward bad behavior. We've made stars out of YouTube idiots and social media fools, so much so that we're in danger of creating a generation of men that doesn't respect anything. They selfishly go through life thinking they deserve things instead of having to earn them.
Fathers, teach your sons to respect women. Not just the "give them flowers" and "open doors for them" kind of respect, but respect for women as human beings and equals--intellectual equals who have valid concerns and opinions. Teach your sons that women's bodies do not "belong" to men and that women are not playthings put here for our physical pleasure. Women are not here to be our servants, but our partners.
Fathers, teach them that drunken consent is not consent. Teach them that rapists are scum of the earth, and that the two Ohio high schoolers have ruined their lives because they failed respect a fellow classmate.
Teach your sons to have respect for the law and law-enforcement officers. If you're raising a black man, teach him that although he will probably be accosted because of his skin color, it doesn't give him the right to disrespect a badge. We've seen where that goes bad. If you're raising a white man, teach your son that the color of his skin doesn't mean that the law doesn't apply to him equally. Teach him that being disrespectful to an officer may get him on the news as jackass of the week.
Teach your son that being a man doesn't mean you deserve to be drunk, loud, obnoxious or "grabby." Respect is everything, and you get what you give. That's being a man.
And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.