Setting a Sound Example.Throughout childhood, I looked forward to find heroes to pattern my life after. After eighteen, I saw no one around me worth emulating. I was what I wanted to be, and to follow the course of someone older would have required me to surrender one or more of my cherished values. I could not understand why it was necessary, and I could not imagine life improving because of it. So I quit looking for heroes, until one found me.

Often, teenagers think they have the whole world figured out, and the quality of their television gives them a good reason to think it. They’ve learned that sex and boldness conquers all, and at the sub-levels of cognition, it works. But after a few years of bar-hopping, manipulating others and being manipulated, they realize how empty it all is without the depth of intimacy and intelligence. It’s as pointless as using foul language to be cool; so they look past the beer and cigarette ads to complete the picture of what life and love is supposed to be, and of what human beings really are. The true complexity of life is staggering, and most often, they reach that conclusion totally unprepared. Often, Mom and Dad were tacky, boring, controlling and unhelpful, and they don’t want to end up like that. What is their alternative?

They don’t need the luck of being born into wealth or rationality, and the Self-made need not consider reproduction a duty; Spirit Murderers will always produce more than enough mouths to feed in order to justify their passivity. The Self-made need only to live the most fulfilling life possible in the sight of the world. Enough young people will use them as a role model—a being that just exudes health from every angle—not the bent work-horse that raised them.

The teens of any generation are at a divine turning point, when their wings grow strong, yet they have not mastered flight; and if we love them, all we have to do is let them know we trust them. Set them free to train their own cognitive functions, and set a sound example. Load them with personal responsibility to train their disciplines. We can treat them like people, because they are. We can give them the respect of a young mind—a new chance at greatness, not a source of irritation to be restrained. We don’t have to force, cajole or threaten to get our point across. We govern by the Self-made quote which deals directly with life and is unafraid to expose truths: “See for yourself.”

We experiment in our lives, just as we teach them to. We show our progress and its pattern. We show its reward. We face what must be faced. We admit wrongs. We reveal uncertainties. We deal with difficult situations and show the path to solutions. We show how important individual happiness is, through our own self-dedication. We walk our talk. Most of all, we stay real. Self-made Man gives them something to appreciate, even when they reach his age and look back, remaining wholesome, open and aware, with the honesty that only true strength can practice.