A man or woman without a defined purpose for life remains a follower. Some look to approval of others to be defined, rather than permit a healthy examination of personal aspirations. Choosing matters of satisfaction in life, we must be cognizant of decisions that can bring turmoil and strife. Even in adversity, those deepest reaches of despair and regret, the full measure of a person comes. Gaining self-assurance, a confident smile breaks through any darkness.

Sometimes we believe that our only validation of worth can come from those outside our family unit. Whether it is coaches in sport, vocal or dance instructors. A friend of the family. A church or other community leader. Sometimes misplaced thoughts of finding love comes in the wrong arms. The importance of solid role models cannot be disregarded. Nor, demonstrating appreciation for those willing to give their time in benefit of our youth.

In Helping our Youths

What helped me to consider those who might not have a support system is the feeling I got the very first time my own child came to me, climbed up on the bed between his mother and I, wrapping his arms around me and said; “I love you Daddy.” Some children do not know what it is like to have your arms wrapped around them. To be praised for their accomplishments. To be quieted of their fears, real or imagined. In a world where men are emasculated for not being tender enough, understanding enough, or in touch with their “feminine side”, there remains a need for teaching them how to be men. Being guided in making important decisions that are necessary in our grown-up lives.

The strength of women should be well known in today’s world. But what remains unspoken is the need for there to be strong men. Men with concepts of Honor, Integrity and Character. A base teaching to ensure proper decision making in all aspects of their future lives. Do they learn how to “give up?” Do they learn so much about life being “hard” that they back away from challenges? Mostly when we excuse ourselves as simply “protecting” our children due to fear of their being exposed to the ills of the world. Well meaning. Attempting to give them a better life than we have had.

In teaching our children how to achieve better grades, we expect mentoring by those whom we expect will use independent praise instead of seeming ambivalence. Teaching youth in such a way that they come to understand, and achieve, that “Yes I can” attitude. Small goals earned through efforts. Making larger goals less daunting. However, when we help our kids to avoid tragedy, heartache and pain, in personal decisions, we sometimes deprive them of character building personal trials. We deprive them of realities best served as teaching experiences.

We hear of psychologists telling parents to keep their children busy in order to avoid some of the poor choices. Latch-key kids have often been dropped off at my Martial Arts Studios to achieve that goal. Parents wonder what is going on when their children start doing chores around the house without asking. When respectful speech and gestures become the norm. Not having to ask twice, or more, for each tumultuous chore performed without pulling teeth.

Youth Choices

Boundaries are established through respect and are craved for. Rules followed permitting greater freedoms. Trust is evident. Boundaries permit growth by understanding what is expected and consequences associated with failing to keep one’s word. Even a simple word of praise will make a marked difference. Especially for those who have sought boundaries without stating so, remaining silent as they just didn’t yet know what they even wanted.

Boundaries don’t have to change when children grow to adulthood. Decision making on the road to adulthood can point out the successes of our children. Even in the smallest of circumstances; “That is my boy, the third one on the left.” “That is my daughter. That one there, the soloist.” Our lives are richer, more productive for somehow, we live on and are validated through the triumphs of our children.

We freely accept that “My Son,” “My Daughter,” are the leaders of tomorrow. We strive to keep them close. We sometimes forget our responsibility to teach what to expect, including pitfalls. Simple things like how to save. Open a checking account. Being responsible enough to learn life skills that will permit renting, obtaining utilities, purchasing a car… all growth BEFORE heading to college.

Tomorrows Leaders

College today, we are told, is an experimentation place for our kids to “grow up.” Sex is expected as part of learning relationship skills. With the presumption that taboos in the home will be swept aside before they have left home.

When we entrust their minds and bodies to others, once again. Expecting their safety and security will be for those who can give them a leg up in the world. We sometimes miss out on important games, tournaments and recitals because “life” gets in the way. And when they are gone we wonder if they’ll be alright. We believe that they will somehow do better than we had once they become parents.

In families of divorce, often our personal problems take precedence over our children’s thoughts and feelings. Well-meaning parents fight for custody or influence their children to favor one or the other. In so doing we realize that there may have been problems for many years. Our children have seen them. Whether they understand the circumstances that cause divorce is not important. Do we try to keep our vows and commitments teaching how to live up to our personal values?

In today’s headlines we hear of coaches, teachers and trusted clergy blurring the line with despicable disadvantages against our youth. Yet, we take little steps to assure the safety of our children by really talking to them about what they have encountered – until the damage is far too evidenced in tragedy.

So, ever important is building our children’s self esteem to a degree where “Just saying no” is the very least that will be done. Speaking truth, having confidence in our parental relationships. Listening to our children. If that means being politically incorrect as men, enraged, seeking swift and immediate justice, so be it.

I have no feelings of sorrow for the person who takes advantage of a child. Once, many years ago, it was made known to me that someone who had become a trusted assistant in one of my studios had sold cocaine to a student. I immediately left my home and entered the studio. Upon acknowledgement, I excused all students to go home, “NOW!” Excepting the man who had breached more than his duties. I locked the door behind me. Then approached the man striking him three times before he hit the floor. He ran through a plate glass window in order to escape the studio. While he never returned, he called me some weeks later from the LA County jail. He wanted me to bail him out. I declined.

Courage and determination are not gone from life. The are just not taught enough. We all make mistakes from time to time relying on people whose motives are self-serving. We sometimes miss the obvious. However, the true identity of the person we might have besides us for a time will make itself known. To this, we must decide how we intend to respond before the situation occurs. We must preclude taking the easy way out from our thoughts. And, in many cases, be prepared to contact the proper law enforcement agency to report criminal activity. If we can’t do this we should not take on the responsibility of being an example to others.

The time when men took the lead with modesty and humility has not passed. Learning to be a “gentleman.” It has just been dormant, asleep for a few years. Look at the entertainment industry which has proved the craving for strong male role models once more. Movies like “Die Hard,” “Rambo,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Rocky,” and any number of other parts one through infinity demonstrate; “One Man” can make a difference. And if our children were able to take that message to heart, what then would we have in terms of future “leaders?”


Yes. I am a 21st Century traditionalist. That means both men and women must earn their rewards. Every bit as much as they must be re-taught the use of diplomacy, cordiality, manners, appropriate speech, and etiquette. It means relenting on shocking behavior in deference to something that is “new,” or maby not. It means being in control when others cannot sit still. Excelling when others are declining in education and responsibility. It means making a choice to be something very few have the ability to obtain: Lasting personal character and integrity.

Some decry me as I state that it is time for men to be men. I have been abashed for stating that men and women should not be equated as equals. Even when I ask; “Why so many women would want to come down from her pedestal to become equal?” They think the statement trite. Not so. I believe that women should be paid for equal work. Should be allowed to do whatever they may without regard to gender. But I also believe in that outdated concept of chivalry, protection and respect accorded to women. The title of a “lady.” If that isn’t you then we need not spend time together.

Parents; make your choice. Make choices where you consider your children’s wants and needs. Make choices where the outcome desired provides a responsible platform for success. Success that translates to all aspects of a persons life.

A man or woman without a defined purpose for life remains a follower.

Kirk Koskella

Images Flikr: History of New York Public Library