Letter to my Son

by Mike Melara, Executive Director

Dear Dominick,

I hope this letter finds you well. Sophomore year in college can be a challenging time and I know you are working hard at school and learning a great deal in the process.

It may surprise you to know that as your dad, I am still learning.

I’m still learning what it means to be a good man. So much of my childhood and early adult years were influenced by popularized notions of what it meant to be a “real man.” What was reinforced, in so many ways, is that real men are strong, silent, impervious to feelings, and fearless. The latent message, personified in countless male movie heroes, is that aggressiveness was not only a totally acceptable male trait, but also an appropriate response to the world at large. Fortunately, I had many positive male role models in my life, starting with Grandpa, which countered these messages. I’ve since learned to reconcile the image of the “real man” with the reality of being a man.

And still, I am learning.

During the month of March, we celebrate the White Ribbon Campaign. Maybe you have heard of it. During the campaign, we ask all the male members of our community to make a commitment to end all forms of violence against women. All forms of violence. The Campaign starts with a breakfast that I attended last week and I had a chance to hear several speakers discuss the issue of violence against women including former All-American, Don McPherson. I wish you could have been with me. I wish we could have discussed what we heard together.

Physical forms of violence leave a life-long scar on the psyche of the victim. Emotional forms of violence have the same effect, maybe even worse. Of course, we can commit to never behaving like this with the women in our lives. But, are we willing to speak up and call out behaviors or statements made by people we know that minimize and objectify women? Are we willing to forgo silence when we hear disparaging jokes, sexual innuendo, and attempts to oppress the opposite sex?

Taking a stand against violence is much more than committing to never abusing women. It is using our “manhood” in the best possible way to bring a voice to all that we see and know to be the unacceptable treatment of women. It takes courage to speak up, to say it is not okay to treat women that way. But maybe our (yours and mine) definition of being a “real man” is standing against all forms of oppression, violence, and inequity. To do something about it versus spectate. To use our voice in the discussion.

I am proud of you, Dominick. I love you so very much. Join me in being the best possible men we can be.



The 26th Annual White Ribbon Campaign, led by men, encourages all members of the community to join them in raising awareness and ending domestic and sexual violence committed against women. Thousands of Central New Yorkers will wear white ribbon pins or wristbands to raise awareness.

Please join Mike, Catholic Charities, and so many others in this important cause. Learn more about the 26th Annual White Ribbon Campaign here: https://www.verahouse.org/event-calendar/ev-detail/25th-annual-white-rib…

Learn more about Vera House here: https://www.verahouse.org/

Vera House 24 Hour Crisis line: 315-468-3260

Vera House 24 Support line: 315-484-7263

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