October 16, 2014
“A young man with an absent father faces a considerable and well-documented number of social, academic and emotional difficulties because of a lack of mentoring from his father guide.” A bold and troubling statement to be sure but, also, a very real one.
We read, hear and witness media reports daily concerning the unnerving, senseless and sometimes violent acts young men engage in primarily because they have not been taught much about the meaning of responsibility, duty, respect for property, for themselves, for others or authority. What is considered socially acceptable, now, often borders on what was, at one time, considered to be criminal and accountability is, almost, a thing of the past. Hedonism is fast becoming the new religion. An inflated sense of entitlement concerning most things has replaced the concept of working for your simple pleasures. Much of this, quite frankly, comes from not having been introduced to the ideas and concepts of what it means to live as a man in the world today. This is a message that can only be delivered to a young man from another man (preferably his father) who has been there and done that–he who has experienced the transition from boyhood to manhood.
Questions and confusion reign supreme and need to be answered and explained. Questions like: What does it mean to man-up? Where is my place as a man in society? What does manhood look like today? What can I expect? How am I supposed to treat others? What do I tell MY son when it’s his time? Is this generation of angry young men a consequence of our culture’s blurred gender roles? True. The world has changed and it will continue to change. Change is our only real constant. Indeed the focus and the state/sense of manhood is constantly under scrutiny and criticism but that just underscores the importance of having our sons, our young men, introduced to those messages from the get-go. Like it or not fathers are solely integral to the process of educating their sons in this regard and for fathers to NOT fulfil that role is, in my mind, socially criminal. If you look at the outcomes,the reality that is today, it is not difficult to see that by not having fathers involved in their sons lives and not leading them into a state of manhood there is some validity to my claim.
As parents, we can no longer just sit idly by and hope that things will change. This ‘phase’ will not, somehow, magically end. We must develop some new practical ideas about how to change what is happening. Perhaps getting back to a time when we actually took time out from our busy schedules to spend some regular quality time with our kids is a place to start. Getting involved in activities that are more community oriented; spending time and talking about how their lives are going; actually listening to them without comment or judgement; playing some pond hockey; perhaps a round of golf together–anything that is family oriented. These are things that we have stopped doing and these are the things that we will need to begin doing again if we are to create a different kind of relationship with our kids but we need to do it and do it now. If we want them to become good citizens in the world we have to lead the way and we cannot depend on the current educational system to address any of it.
My latest book, ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done: A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons’, tells a story of a young man who is going through this vitally important part of his life and is doing so without the help of a male role model. I outline many different situations that mimic true life and, within the dialogue of the story, discuss solutions to what the young man is struggling with. It becomes a good resource for fathers who want to repair or rebuild a relationship that has turned cold and distant. It’s also a great resource for single moms who struggle to understand the day to day challenges that their sons are experiencing as they progress through the transition from boyhood to manhood. The post feminist world is new to many men both young and old. We all need to join together to help and support each other to understand how to live in harmony and equality without having to forfeit our true nature as human beings.
There is hope if we accept the inevitable changes in our culture and re-establish a clear and dedicated father-to-son relationship. As men, we need to take responsibility not just for being a parent to our children but also, specifically, to be mentors to our sons. It’s time for us to become the teachers and the life coaches we were not so long ago. We need to stop abdicating our responsibility for our sons social, mental and spiritual education. We need to begin to embrace what we are naturally driven to do. It must, again, be part of our reason for being here. As fathers we need to accept the opportunity to be a part of shaping another human life as the privilege it truly is.
That’s the way I see it anyways–Jim
If you are interested in purchasing this book please go to jamescloughley.com and then click on the title bar tab ‘Life Choice Books” and follow the cues.