During a recent wedding my mom told me that when I get married she doesn't want to hand me over to my new wife as boy in need of a mom, but as a man who loves that woman. Somewhere in our young adulthood we, as boys, become men. It's not a quick process, or one that the Army or any other organization can claim the exclusive rights to, but when a boy comes out the other side it's recognizable to almost everyone: he is either a man or he isn't. There aren't rules or qualifications per say, but I think there are some principles that stand firm across the board. For instance, I think that one has moved from being a boy toward being a man when he doesn't allow fear excuse his actions - he faces his own fears and realizes that the fear itself is much more debilitating than the object in question. A man also realizes that guilt and manipulation are used by people that are smaller than he himself wants to be. There are choices to be made in this world, but choices should be made by what we believe is right whether it's justice, respect, peace, forgiveness, honor, integrity, honesty or kindness. It is not appropriate to act a certain way because you don't want to hurt someone's feelings, have someone think badly of you, or feel like someone is going to use something against you. Kindness, honesty and bravery are much more useful in these situations respectively, and I think those can help define the integrity and decisiveness of an adult.
It has been interesting to me as I have watched my younger brother Elias grow up and make adult decisions over the last few months. He's entering 7th grade which few of us can remember clearly, but if you try I'm sure you would agree that it was a very impressionable time in your life. You are forming what you believe about the world, relationships, people and your own future. You have moved outside your family's influence into that of your friends' and now into the realm of people called your teachers and mentors. He is going to make decisions, just like I did, that will move him in all kinds of directions and I have been trying my best to let him know that these should be his decisions. All kinds of people in the world will try to tell us what to believe and what to do, but when it comes down to it only one person truly has that right.