Growing a Guy
By Guy Shepherd

Good men are born then made better by great fathers and mothers.

Growing a Guy


Want to build a better man? You need a good model.

Meet Mr Exemplar, aka Guy Shepherd.

I was raised well.   My father and mother madeth good American men.  Five boys.  Six, if you counted my father.

Shepherd men are not perfect.  In our defense, perfection was not my parent’s ambition. The same went for the rest of us.  Our parents wanted us to be good American men and we wanted the same for ourselves.

Our parents wanted us to be good American men and we wanted the same for ourselves.

What is such a man known for? The answer is predictable — in the way all good men are predictable.  

Our word and name means something to us and others can count on it. We were raised to know and stand up for what’s right, and we were not tone-deaf to the calls of God and country, family and community.  We love and serve them out of reflection supported by a walk-your-talk habit—a reflective instinct to seek truth, justice and American way.  We know what team we are on, and we know the rules of the game and the spirit of play.

We give more than we take. We don’t socialize our risks or our failure to manage it onto others. We deliver across the waterfront: as friends, lovers, husbands, fathers, fellow citizens, earners, givers, neighbors and good Samaritans to strangers.

Overall, we Shepherds are good humans.  Men for all seasons, and the kind we particularly need now.

We all were attracted to and then married to strong women—with one exception, my gay brother.  We were raised by a father who loved his mother, his sister, my mother and the idea and the reality of women.  My father taught his sons his way—with my mother thoughtfully policing the margins.   

First, to a man we adore our mother, and not simply because she is our own—which is enough— but also because she is good, honorable and deserving of our respect. The daily example of a good mother is a huge factor in the making of a gentleman. In short, my mom was a central-casting example of a great mom—and my father treated her as such.   

My father was a quintessential Playboy man, a man of the 1950s at its most self-confident, chilaxxed best.  He did what social scientists predicted what a rational male-with-options does. He married late—33 and to a much-younger woman of 21. Together, they brought into this world five sons before she was 30.  And while she have easily justified staying at home, she always worked as a nurse. 

Overall, we Shepherds are good humans.

My parents gave their five sons a front-row seat on how marital vows in action create quintessential American men.

When it came time for guidance on how to a man ought to present himself to the opposite sex, Frank Shepherd was a cool father who knew best. “Son,” he said, “sex is like credit: not everyone gets it.”  His point: you need to distinguish yourselves from the masses with a combination of good looks, intelligence, wit, wallet and charm. If those aren’t given to you at birth, go out and earn them for yourself.

In Dad’s defense, he came of age in a different time.  The old-time religion and the cultural regulation of the sexes was already waning in the post-war period, but nothing like what happened during the Age of Aquarius and the socialism of sex that resulted.  Being a wise-ass of a son at college,  I told him that the world he had known would substantially change—and that his sex-is-like-credit adage was no longer quite true. My evidence was that without applying for — or even warranting — a credit card, I opened my college mailbox one day and there one was, without my even asking.

“True,” he said, “but keep your eyes open to reality and the better man that you were born to to be and the better woman you want to someday live out  your life with still must be deserved.  Those who are most credit-worthy still do best.” 

That higher-power Shepherd law remains true, whether you live in a tight or a subprime sexual marketplace.



To reach Guy Shepherd contact: [email protected]

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