Responsibility as the Core of Manliness

Photo by Meg Stewart

In February I asked this question: “What one word most closely encapsulates what it means to be a man?” In my mind the word was “responsibility” and while there were other good responses to the question they all fell in that same vein. When JP and Bryce first began reviewing lists of the essential traits of manhood on the Sons of Adam podcast I noticed that JP kept calling out how the various traits each came down to a man taking some form of responsibility.

After comparing my list with Bryce’s list and again after JP’s list was discussed, I decided that I would like to call out the element of responsibility in each item of each list. I’ll explain and group items together as it seems appropriate.

The “self” in both Self Mastery and Self Reliant from my list indicates the personal shouldering of responsibility. In one case it refers to the responsibility to own and take control of your weaknesses and limitations. In the other case it refers to the responsibility to ensure that your material needs are satisfied.

The key component of Internalized Morality from my list is that the individual has taken the responsibility for their own moral code. They maintain and live their moral code because of their own beliefs, not because of the beliefs of their parents or peers.

As I tried to clarify, the trait of Problem Solving from my list was intent on conveying the idea of taking responsibility to seek solutions to problems rather than passively accepting circumstances like a victim when we face problems. It is closely tied to the trait of being Proactive from my list except that being proactive applies outside the context of problems.

The Protect and respect women from Bryce’s list coincides with the Protective and Respectful traits from my list and the Become a Protector for JP’s list. (I think it is important that a man protect and respect more than just women and I’m sure Bryce would agree.) Becoming a protector requires accepting responsibility to provide protection. Being respectful means being responsible to demonstrate respect, not simply passively avoiding being disrespectful.

Become a Righteous Father from Bryce’s list, Stewardship from my list, and Become a patriarch for your family from JP’s list is all about taking responsibility to guide the family in righteousness (although stewardship is again, more generalized than the family setting).

Provide from my list, Work for the household in which you live¬†from Bryce’s list, and Become a provider from JP’s list requires accepting responsibility to provide for material needs. This is closely tied to self reliance.

Also on JP’s list, these items cut across the items from the first two lists: Become an adult was defined as “a responsible, productive member of society” and Develop a manly attitude specifically included accepting responsibility as a core component.


While I went through the process of documenting how responsibility is the core of manliness I realized that being proactive is a core component of really taking responsibility. If I were asked to encapsulate manliness in one word it would still be responsibility but if I were given two words, it would be proactive responsibility.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.

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