richardmcculloch2web.gifDear Little Man,

I think of you often as I watch the news.
My heart aches with frustration, and my soul weeps tears of disappointment when I see mug shots and videos of young men who have exchanged the virtues of manhood for the harsh consequences of crime.

These young casualties of the street have become victimizers of society, not even realizing that they have been victimized themselves. Some of them have been victims of neglect; free falling into the world of crime because those charged with raising them up failed to lift them up on the broad shoulders of family structure and respect for others.

While some were neglected, others became victims of fraud. Without the proper guidance to help them decipher the answer to the question, “What makes a man?” — these young men embrace the fraudulent definitions of manhood that they find on the street corners, in the nightclubs and in the “Thug Life” messages lyrically glorified in the music they listen to; instead of their parents.

The day you were born, I realized that you were a God-sent and priceless gift. You are of greater value to me than my own life, so I will never neglect you.

The day you were born, I realized that I was chosen to provide for you and teach you how to one day be a man. For this reason, it is my duty to shelter you from the deceptions and fraudulent values that society will throw at you as you grow and mature.

I am blessed to be your guide as you navigate the pitfalls of peer pressure and cultivate the traits of responsibility and accountability. As your father, this is what I must do, and failure is not an option.

Though it may seem that in our relationship I am the teacher and you are the student, the lessons that you have taught me are a constant reminder that I too am still evolving as a man.

When I check your homework, I know that I can be demanding as I insist on your refining the curve of an “S” or straightening the lines of your “T.” What you may not realize is that I am just as demanding on myself as your father.

I work every day to refine the way that I maneuver around the challenging curves of my family life, work and finances. Instead of straightening the lines of my letters, I work hard on keeping my back straight and strong, so I can walk upright like a man should, posturing myself to carry the weight of my responsibilities without excuses or conditions.

If I am to be your mentor for manhood, I must be willing to learn as well as teach, and remember the lessons that I learned as a son from my father. This is the foundation of manhood.

One of the greatest gifts that I can give you as a father is treating your mother with the unconditional love and respect that she deserves. Often, the true measure of a man is determined by how he treats women. You will never learn how to love a woman if you fail in learning how to respect a woman. From your female classmates and your female cousins, to the way you treat your wonderful mother; being a gentleman begins now so that being a good man will last forever.

I think of you often as I watch the news.

I see a man named Barack, who shares a distinct lineage with you, and has earned the highest office in the land.

Through him, I see possibilities for you that I never saw for myself growing up.

Just like him, you can avoid jail cells, and choose the Ivy League instead. You can run a country instead of running from the cops. You can put your family first, and still become the First Family. You can be anything you want to be, but it starts with being a good man.

Though I treasure the cards and gifts you have given me on previous Father’s Days, I needed to give this gift to you and others this year.

I’ve called you “Little Man” since the day that you were born, and I wanted you to know that as the years go by, I realize that I will one day have to drop the “Little.”

My greatest hope is that what will remain will truly be a “Man.”