To make the transition from boy, to adult male, to Grown manhood, is never an easy journey. It is all but impossible without becoming aware and facing the truth of how your culture, experiences and people—especially your parents and other adults and authority figures—shaped your thinking and choices in unhealthy ways. Even then, it takes commitment and courage to change, and then to share your journey—including your deepest, most shameful secret—with others.
For an excellent example of a man who does just that, I urge you to buy and read Manhood: How To Be A Better Man—Or Just Live With One, by television and film actor and former pro football player Terry Crews, perhaps best known for his roles in TV shows such as Everybody Hates Chris and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Expendables film franchise. He has been married to his wife Rebecca Crews for a quarter century and is a father to their four daughters and one son. By nearly every measure, Crews is a success who has achieved his dreams. But he makes it clear that he’s become who he is today via an often painful and disappointing journey of personal growth.
Crews starts from his childhood in Flint, Michigan, with his mother, stepfather and half-brother, where much of his thinking and personality was shaped by domestic violence, alcoholism and poverty. As he struggles to answer the question, “What is a Man, and do I have what it takes to become one?”, Crews’ choices are driven by self-doubt, fear of rejection, a desperate need to be approved by others, and a victim mentality.
As Crews shares how he slowly recognizes, wrestles with, accepts responsibility for and gains control over these unhealthy patterns of thinking, he provides an encouraging example of how a man who is anything but Grown (in fact, after an undistinguished NFL career came to an abrupt end, he became a classic drama king) can commit to personal growth, and transform himself into a better person. The most valuable gift of the book is that it clearly demonstrates that men need emotional safety, fidelity, and to be heard and valued, just as much as any woman does. Crews’ recognition of this truth in his own life is key to his redemption, and his ability to forgive his parents and set himself free from his past, to become a better—and truly Grown—man.