I am a single mother with a five-year-old son. How can I raise him to be a healthy man who has a good masculine image?
As I think you recognize from your question, your son has needs that you're not properly equipped to meet. Your best option, then, is to recruit a man who can act as a mentor to him--one who can serve as a masculine role model.
In her book Mothers and Sons, the late Jean Lush talked about the challenges single mothers face in raising sons. She says the ages four to six are especially important and difficult.1 I agree. A boy at that age still loves his mother, but he feels the need to separate from her and gravitate toward a masculine model. If he has a father in the home, he'll usually want to spend more time with his dad apart from his mother and sisters. If his dad is not accessible to him, a substitute must be found. Admittedly, good mentors can be difficult to recruit. Consider your friends, relatives, or neighbors who can offer as little as an hour or two a month. In a pinch, a mature high schooler who likes kids could even be "rented" to play ball or go fishing with a boy in need.
If you belong to a church, you should be able to find support for your son among the male members of the Christian community. Scripture commands people of faith to care for children without fathers. Isaiah 1:17 states, "Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Jesus Himself took boys and girls on His lap and said, "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me" (Matthew 18:5). I believe it is our responsibility as Christian men to help single mothers with their difficult parenting tasks.
Certainly single mothers have many demands on their time and energy, but the effort to find a mentor for their sons might be the most worthwhile contribution they can make.
Jean Lush and Pamela Vredevelt, Mothers and Sons (Pomona, Calif.: Focus on the Family, 1988).