The Modern-Day Challenges Of Being A 'Good Man'

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What does it mean to be a "good man" in the modern world?  That's the central question the new book, "The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Frontline of Modern Manhood," tries to answer.

Tom Matlack is the book's editor and co-founder of the Boston-based Good Men Foundation, a non-profit that supports men and boys at risk.  He says men are at an inflection point of "trying to figure out what's important in life."

1129_good-menHigh unemployment, increasing expectations as fathers and husbands, and the call to seemingly interminable wars are just some of the challenges modern men face, Matlack says.

"We see that men, like women have for the last 25 years, are having trouble juggling these myriad of expectations," he says. "And so many men are kind of waking up, looking in the mirror and saying: Who am I and what's important?"

The stories in "The Good Men Project" are about men's experiences trying to answer that question.

So what does it mean to be a good man? Matlack says there is no one right answer. Each person has to find his own answer and learn from  the stories of others.

Matlack says, for him, being a good man means loving his wife, taking care of his kids and doing good deeds for others. But coming to that realization has taken time and self-reflection — and some wrong turns.

"This idea that we as men have these conflicting expectations and have trouble coming to truth about it is a common theme," he says. "It was true for me. If you look around, you see all these men who have public success and private failure."

Our culture doesn't encourage men to talk about the difficulty in defining their role in modern society, Matlack says. "Our book is a response to that. We don't need to be silent anymore," he says. "We can actually talk about what's important."

Though the book is about and for men, women have been buzzing about it, Matlack says. "When you have 31 stories of men getting brutally honest, women are dying to read it," he says.

Excerpt: 'Crash And Learn,' By Tom Matlack

The first night I had the kids on my own I gave the them baths, slipped them into matching footie pajamas, tucked Kerry into her bunk, and then warmed a bottle for Seamus. In my bedroom, I turned off the lights and rocked him gently while he drank. I inhaled deeply. It was the scent of my son that changed everything—his scent and the sound of him suckling his bottle, the softness of his skin and the sensation of holding him as his body gradually went limp with sleep. I looked down and realized that this—being a father—was my deepest satisfaction. Chasing Kerry around the house at five the next morning, catching her, and tickling her as she screamed with joy confirmed it.

This program aired on November 27, 2009.


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