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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“In my opinion, what makes a ‘good man’ is a man who is willing and ready to step up to the plate when it’s time to take care of his family, unselfishly putting aside his own wants and needs to provide for others.

 

Being a godly man is not only important to our households, but essential and required. God made man to be the protector, the provider, and the role model to our wives and our babies. We serve in our communities to help others when possible, even if it is just lending an ear to listen. I’d like to think I’ve helped other men who are down on their luck make better choices.

 

I’d also tell men out there that while we are looked at to be strong and to handle anything, we also have times that we are tired, and we fail. In my experience, it takes having a good woman at your side for everything, good times (birthdays, holidays, job promotion), bad times (deaths, not enough money for bills, loss of job) and scary times (storms, car breakdowns, sick kids). It is especially important during times when a man’s faith is tested by the past, his old friends and his old habits. Find one who loves you unconditionally, being your biggest supporter through it all, and you’ll find you can handle anything in life.

 

I honestly do not know where I would be without God and my wife by my side.”

 

Cager Bandy

Apprentice electrician from Clinton

Husband to Ronnie

Father to Haddie, Beau and Cash

Clean and sober since 2020

 

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