Where a child’s own father is struggling or absent through separation, extensive work commitments, prolonged illness, death or some other circumstance it’s even more important for families to have a support network which includes good father figures. And besides, even the most dedicated father can lack interest or skill in an area where his child can benefit from a male contribution.
It’s impossible for any one man to provide everything that his child humanly and spiritually needs. This is where a godparent, other male relatives, teachers, sports coaches etc. can fill the gaps or even take on a greatly formative role.
Brett McKay, founder of the online men’s magazine, the Art of Manliness, believes that it takes a village of man mentors to raise a child, even when the child has a father to look up to. He has written a beautiful tribute to the man who greatly influenced his outlook on life, sculptor Andrew Lester.
He was 15 when he first met Mr Lester at church, who was then in his 80s. “I never thought he would become a mentor and good friend to me,” he wrote. “But by chance, I was asked to regularly visit him and his wife to help them out around their home. Little did I know the impact this man would have on my passage into manhood.”
Brett still remembers the conversations they had and the lessons the older man gave him.
“From Mr Lester I learned the importance of being an honourable man. I learned that success in life requires tenacity and enthusiasm. I learned that the strong should look out for the weak. And I learned the value of respect towards all, no matter their race, creed, or social background…
Mr Lester would always ask me about what was going on in my life. He’d listen intently and provide some counsel and words of encouragement or sometimes a verbal kick in the butt if I needed it. After each visit with him, I felt uplifted and edified.”
Brett maintains that there are some lessons and bits of wisdom that only a man can impart. “Men and women are different. We view and interact with the world differently.”