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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Celebrating the Men in Our Lives

May 30, 2022 08:21PM ● By Sharon Bruckman

Having an older brother is one of the best things that can happen to a girl. I was lucky to have two of them, along with a younger one. This month’s Men’s Health issue has prompted me to reflect on their many contributions.

Growing up as the first in a string of five sisters, I’m sure I got clobbered a few times by my older brothers, but in the long run, the benefits outweighed the consequences. As the runt of the litter (still weighing only 95 pounds), I was forced to toughen up. Although they saw me as the weakest link, my brothers propelled me to become a better kickball and red rover player, as well as an excellent strategist in other physical activities. 

In high school, I loved having older brothers looking out for me. Their buddies also became loyal protectors, not to mention great boyfriend candidates. My brothers helped me to understand how guys think and what they needed in female relationships. 

Today, my youngest brother seems to come to my rescue the most. Perhaps having five older sisters telling him what to do was a good training ground to better comprehend the female mind and become a supportive husband. 

One of the best things about having three brothers is how much I still feel my dad’s presence through them. But unlike my dad, they're more comfortable expressing their feelings. Having five sisters probably helped them feel safer to open up. Luckily, times have changed and it’s more acceptable, even expected, for men to express deeper levels of themselves.

In our feature story “The Healing of the Modern Man: Men Redefine Their Emotional Power,” Marlaina Donato writes that the “tough guy” gender roles and cultural expectations that men took on for generations amplified their stress levels and compromised their health. A broader psychosocial view of authentic manhood is slowly emerging, prompting more men to take responsibility for their well-being and step up to the plate as strong, sensitive leaders, mates and fathers. See page 28.   

I never really knew my dad’s inner struggles or deepest aspirations. I don’t think he had the tools to express his inner life. As young adults, my siblings and I decided to start saying, “I love you,” to our father. He was uncomfortable saying it back at first, but after a few long silences the magic words eventually came forth, opening our hearts. Unfortunately, he left us too early right after he retired, when he finally had more time to spend with us and his grandkids. 

This month, as we honor our fathers—and other males that “father” us in special ways. I hope you can enjoy some special time together and freely say, “I love you.” 

To all the good men,

Sharon Bruckman