Man vs. Boy: How does a boy mature to manhood

I see a question pop up repeatedly around Manhood: when does a boy become a man?

This article will explore the different stages of growth a boy goes through as they evolve into a man. 

When does a boy become a man?

Adulthood is determined by age, but Manhood is defined by emotional maturity. In General, most men feel empowered as a man at the age of 25-32, though anyone can still act boyish at any age until they find maturity. 

There is the old saying:

Being male is a matter of birth; being a man is a matter of choice.

The transition from boyhood to Manhood is not tied to age. It is more about maturity. The rest of this article will look at the emotional and psychological processes that help a boy transition to Manhood. 

How do boys step into their Manhood?

When a boy reaches a level where he becomes mature, reliable, and responsible, he has grown into his Manhood. This level of understanding comes with time as a boy passes through different milestones of development. 

At every stage, they learn something new about themselves. The environment in which one lives is also a factor that turns a boy into a man. Several characteristics make a boy a man:

  1. Start Future Planning: Boys like to live in the present, enjoy the moment. They have a sound vision of how their future. They make long-term goals, like what they want in the future and what it looks like in the next five or ten years. On the other hand, a man starts making their long-term goals, including planning their career, relationships, finances, and other aspects of life. 
  2. Taking up responsibility: A man takes responsibility for his actions, mistakes, and choices in life, whether right or wrong. On the other hand, a boy will give excuses, behave immaturely, or blame others for his actions.
  3. They think about what kind of man they want to be: His values and morals lead them to understand what type of person they see themselves in the future. This means the kind of partner, father, employee, or friend and matches their personality.
  4. They figure out what they want: A man has a clear vision of what they want from their career, their partner’s expectations, and how they want to live their life.
  5. Becoming decisive: Since man knows what they want in the future, they are not afraid of making decisions. They have good decision-making qualities, which include decisions regarding their career choices, their relationships. They know what they want, and so they know what decisions to make for that.
  6. Integrity: A man knows that what they say is what they mean. They have integrity. Being honest and having a solid moral principle is a quality of man.
  7. They understand what it means to pursue love: A boy will pursue a woman quickly, whereas a man will think about the future. 

A man knows what it takes to seek a woman. There is a fear of rejection, but they know that rewards are more prominent than risks.

Manhood: Biology versus psychology

Biologically a boy turns into an adult after puberty – a stage in which an individual reaches its full reproductive ability and develops adult features. In boys, it starts at the age of ten and continues till the age of sixteen.

During this stage, testes increase testosterone production, which leads to maturity of the reproductive organs and helps in the growth of muscles and bones, facial and pubic hair appears on the face, and the voice deepens.

You can read more about puberty and child development at Hopkins Medicine.  

The point being, there are distinct biological processes a boy goes through during their development. When this stage is done, we proclaim a boy to be an adult. 

This does not, however, mean the boy has become a man. 

Stepping into one’s Manhood is about psychological development, not physical. 

A man is mature enough to take responsibility for his actions and their close ones, including their partner, family, friends, and even society. A boy will try to blame others for any situation or play the victim card. The reason behind this is that majority of boys don’t have decisive qualities. 

This means that their parents make most of the decisions, like their clothes, food, and life’s schedule, even if they are given a chance to make their own decisions, which they cannot because of a lack of experience and preferences. 

But as one grows, gain experience, start having an understanding of things. In short, reaches adulthood, they take they become confident of what lifestyle they choose, know what they are and what they want to be in the future.

Then comes the values that one gives and takes from society. 

Boys in their younger years take the resources (or value) from their environment. He is self-involved and doesn’t do much of anything to contribute to the people around him. 

As the boy matures into a man, he contributes increasing amounts of value to his society. A mature man exists to serve his friends, family, loved ones, and the community at large. 

Lastly, boys need a specific validation or acceptance or assurance from their external environment. They will say or do nearly anything to get appreciation from others, like compliments on the work. 

As they move towards adulthood, there is a sense of maturity, confidence, and self-assurance. They give themselves the majority of their validation because they are already proud of their becoming. They don’t need someone to constantly tell them “good boy” because they already know they are a quality, valuable member of their society.

What helps a boy become a man?

A boy doesn’t turn to a man overnight. The boy has to develop his inner confidence and identity to step into his Manhood fully. 

It is challenging for boys in this day and age to find the guidance they need along their path to Manhood. But, luckily if the boy is given specific opportunities, it will help him navigate this process in becoming a man. 

Emotional Maturity:

A big obstacle a boy must undertake in his development is becoming emotionally capable. 

In the book “Raising Cane’, Michael Thompson talks about how parents face this issue of permitting their boys to show a full range of human emotions, including crying.

Dr. William Pollack, the writer of Real Boys, found that boys struggle with the double standard of masculinity. 

Boys are told to be tough, competitive, unfeeling, and uncommunicative while at the same time told to be open, expressive, egalitarian attributes that are now heralded as the new ideal of masculinity.

According to Thompson, one should encourage the boys in the following manner to help them pass the journey of boyhood to Manhood:

  • Recognizing and accepting the high activity level of boys and give them safe places to express it. By talking to boys in their language in a way that honors their pride and masculinity by being direct with them.
  • Teach boys that emotional courage and empathy are the sources of real strength in life.
  • Use discipline to build character and conscience, not enemies, by being a good role model of the Manhood of emotional attachment.

Rites of Passage and Initiation:

One of the most potent ways to help a boy transition into a man is through a ritual of initiation. 

We see initiation rites all over the world in both historical and modern-day. 

Wikipedia offers this great definition: A rite of passage is a ceremony or ritual of the passage which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another. It involves a significant change of status in society.

You can read more about rites of passages from across the world in this article.

Can a woman raise a boy into a man?

There are many women in our community raising children as single parents.

Some people also feel that it takes another man to initiate a boy into the fraternity of Manhood. On the other hand, mothers are advised to step back and “build a bridge to the father” for their son.

However, there is no evidence that only a man can help along the way to becoming a man. Research shows that the same support boys need during their childhood usually comes from their moms, like listening closely to what boys have to say and acknowledging and validating the emotional content of their struggles and challenges. 

There is, however, an issue that many mothers have raising their sons.

Kate Lombardi Stone, the author of The Mama’s Boy Myth, found that most mothers second-guess themselves when raising their boy as a single mom for fear of undercutting their masculinity.

This can lead the boys to feel distant from their mother and can affect their romantic relationships when they grow up

If a mother is engaged with there son’s development, then they are more than capable of helping a boy grow up into their Manhood. 

A man doesn’t need to be required for this. 

Is a man who grew up with an abusive father a better “man” than one who grew up with a single mom? 

Not at all. 

This notion that a boy can only be raised as a man by another man is wrong. 

In Conclusion:

Manhood is something earned through emotional maturity. A boy doesn’t magically become a fully realized man when they turn 18. 

For a boy to step into Manhood can take years or even a lifetime. 

Certain things can help this internal development:

  • Rites of Passage
  • Encouragement from family members
  • Discipline
  • Risk-Taking

Moving into Manhood is like crossing a threshold during one’s development. It is about knowing how to take responsibility for one’s actions while simultaneously understanding one’s impact. 

It’s how a boy moves from the “I” to the “We.”

If you struggle with your masculinity or are helping a boy develop into Manhood, I highly suggest you check out the HeroRise Masculine Archetype Deck

Many parents, child psychologists, therapists, and individuals have been using the archetypes to explore positive masculinity. 

Isaac Cotec
Isaac Cotec
Creator of HeroRise, Isaac Cotec has dedicated his life to empowering others through art and creativity. He is a scholar of the subconscious and has studied the power of symbolism to help create enduring change.

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