In an increasingly impersonal world, it is easy for individuals to become isolated and distant, even in a crowded room. Largely gone are the days of gathering on a neighbor’s porch, taking a walk with a trusted elder, or spending time in community to gain insights, emulate role models and soak in the accumulated lived wisdom of those who came before.

 

Such connections are in particularly short supply among men as they try to navigate the often-conflicting roles of father, provider, husband and upstanding member of society. With the rise of single-parent households, more boys than ever before are growing up without a consistent positive male role model in the home. Societal pressures and media images add their own brand of stress and pressure on teens and young adult men as they flounder to ascertain who and what they are expected to be.

 

For this year’s Men’s Issue, AY About You reached out to a cross section of Arkansas men to get their best advice for their brethren, the coming generation, and their own sons and grandsons. Their real-world advice tells of the importance of becoming a strong man in a misguided society, what real manhood looks like and what life has taught them about how to achieve it.

 

The individuals included here are not perfect, nor do they pretend to be. They are merely wiser for their life experiences and willing to share what they have learned with those who seek to hear it. May their advice inspire other men to rededicate themselves, break generational cycles, overcome obstacles and become the best versions of themselves.

 

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“My philosophy on life centers on working hard and trying to do your best all of the time. I am a person who likes to work and finds great satisfaction in a job well done. I have tried to pass this on to my sons because there’s no substitute for hard work. There are a lot of ways for a man to be involved and productive; you sometimes just have to look a little bit.

 

An insight I developed as a father that I would pass on is at some point, you must walk that line between leading, setting boundaries and giving the advice they need while sometimes being the cheerleader they want. I want my kids to love me, but I demand their respect. As we established the latter, we have excelled in the former, and it is a two-way street, especially as they have become adults. When I told them no — and I didn’t say it unless I felt it was the right thing on something that mattered — I was consistent in sticking to it.

 

This can be complicated in families of divorce. I have seen contentious splits, and I find that when parents are trying to win in one way or another, it is usually the kids who are losing. Fortunately for me, my ex-wife and I have worked well together as a team in raising two outstanding young men. I think that is critical.   

 

Finally, I would tell any man to be thankful for what you have earned and accomplished, but always keep it in perspective. I try to adhere to a piece of advice I got early in my TV career from my former boss, Bob Steel: ‘Stay humble, and you won’t stumble.’ I spent most of my childhood trying to make my parents proud of me, and I will spend all my adulthood working to make my kids proud of me.”

 

Justin Acri

General Manager, 103.7 the Buzz

Father to Maddux and Parker

 

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