Can You Name The Most Important Social Issue Of Our Time?

I will likely keep writing about this until people finally hear that we are not doing a very good job of taking care of our young. Of course this is not about all parents nor does it refer to all kids. But there is a very important social issue that we are not acknowledging as we should and it is costing us the lives of the innocent. For instance the recent shooting in Florida was perpetrated by a young man who is/was fatherless. Of the 27 mass shootings in U.S. history 7 of those occurred after 2005 and were perpetrated by young males. Of those 7, 6 were committed by fatherless sons. If that doesn’t concern us it should. We are witnessing a problem that is more important to deal with than the other social issues we have identified. This is not to take away the importance of dealing with homelessness or poverty or abuse but rather to indicate just how severe THIS issue is.

I will soon write about the fatherless female issues as well but lets look at the young males first since they are the ones that are better researched.

Like it or not males and females are not the same. We are different with very different wants and needs and social issues and socialisation issues. Right from day one of our lives females and males are treated differently. Baby males are still mutilated at birth (the ritual of circumcision) in many countries and the act is seen as a “normal” thing where it is now against the law in many countries to mutilate young females. We have different genetic make-ups. A recent study reported in the Daily Mail identified over 6500 differences between males and females genetically speaking. So can we stop the rush to androgyny and concentrate on the real problems of fatherlessness that directly influences the characters and personalities of our children-both male and female. Can we just accept and allow our kids to be who they are without fanfare and love them for WHO they are and less about WHAT they are. I get there are kids who really struggle with their identities but the public and social issues connected to fatherlessness is considered by many to be at the genesis of much more violence, death, destruction and danger.

Take another look at the information at the top of the page (title box). There are about 24,000,000 kids (about 35%) who are living without a father influence in their homes in the U.S. In Canada 80% of single parented homes are led by Moms. The numbers and the consequences are proportionately similar in both the U.S. and Canada. That is a great deal of energy and potential that is running around with no place to displace it or take advantage of it except through violence, gang life and self destruction. So what are we not doing that we need to be doing to begin to rectify this massive social problem?

In my mind there are a couple of places to start. One, obviously, is the family home. The legal system needs to take a look at how it treats single fathers and custody rights, support payments, non-support payments and what is in the best interest of the child or children. To jail a father who is unable or even unwilling to pay support does nothing but separate the family and exacerbate an already terrible situation for the child or children. I’m not saying he shouldn’t support his family but threatening his job or incarceration is simply not the answer. It has never worked and it will never work going forward. Making it even harder to pay makes no sense. The other option is to redefine our school system and what education really means. I understand that our culture has changed and the “rules” of living have changed but the one thing that has not changed is people. We still have the same needs as we did 500 years ago. True we get those needs met in different ways today but they are still the same needs. Go back to Maslow’s Hieracrhy–food, shelter, clothing, water, air, sleep and to reproduce. Further on we need to feel we have purpose, we are connected to something or someone, able to receive love and be able to give love. This is where the whole process has broken down. We no longer pursue the traditional family system. We have many excuses for not doing so and since I don’t believe in coincidence (I’m mostly a cause and affect guy) I have to look at the changes we have made in family, church, values, morals, only to recognize that we are not near as well off regarding safety and security as we used to be. As a society and community we have allowed the break down of the “traditional” family and the values and morals that were a part of that to have little meaning. The question then is are we better off today? and if we want to change things how far back do we need to go?

Schools and their curriculum have a massive role to play. I’ll be commenting on why I say that and how that could work quite successfully in coming weeks. Education needs to include a “whole learner” approach meaning that kids are now in need of learning how to self manage their emotions, develop/learn new coping strategies in order to deal with depression, addictions, anger, stress, boredom. Key here is to learn how to deal with being fatherless in todays world.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim

If you have a desire to comment one way or another please connect with me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

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It Was True Then-It’s Worse Now . . .

The following is a re-post of an article I wrote in November 2013. In it I wrote about the issues concerning fatherless boys and how this has been the most serious issue of our time. Not much has been done since but I feel it is important to note here that many of the mass murders in schools and public places have been perpetrated by fatherless sons. When are we going to “get it” that this is a problem-a big problem and unless we do something (as a community) of great importance more senseless murders and slaughters will continue to take place. It was true in 2013 and it is certainly true today-5 years later:

“Perhaps if I were to title my life I would tag it with ‘As the pendulum swings’. It is no secret that I have a become involved in the discussion regarding the challenges young men face in today’s world especially if they are fatherless. Involved to the point where I penned a book called  “A Man’s Work Is Never Done…A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons”.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 2-3 generations you would know that many young men are struggling mightily with the changes that are happening all around them. In short there is no lack of research that tells us many of our young men are just not able to keep up with the ever changing expectations that society now has placed on them. Traditional roles are being re-defined with little discussion about what that means to all those affected. This is due, I believe, to an inflated importance defined by political correctness. Peer pressure and bullying are climbing the list very quickly and the list goes on. As a consequence to all of this there is a co-incidental or perhaps not so co-incidental rise regarding many social indicators which suggest that we, as parents and guardians, teachers and mentors have lost touch with what it is our young men desperately need from us right now. We seem to be at a loss as to how to help them or where to go from here. We create harsher penalties for some things but mete out a slap on the hand for others creating a sense of confusion and a lack of boundaries, responsibility or accountability for decisions that are being made. We build bigger penal institutions, we employ ‘tough love’ approaches, we try to be their best friends, we make excuses for their horrible behavior and we have instilled a sense of entitlement in them that will surely lead, more often than not, to their demise whether that ends in death (suicides) or a complete breakdown of our social fabric. In any case the point to be made here is that none of this works.

I recently read, with great interest, a report tabled by two female social scientists/researchers. The essence of their report was that fathers are just not all that important in the scheme of things when talking about what and how a young man learns what he needs to know to be successful. I’m not sure what ‘successful’ means in this case. How do we define ‘success’ anyway? What are the criteria? Success, to me as a man in the world, is about helping a young man understand how to use and how to live the characteristics that define us as men each day. As mentors we need to help him become more aware of them as he moves from boyhood to manhood. These ingrained character traits are simple. They are also basic and are intrinsic in men. Try to alter them, downplay or dismiss their importance is simply a large part of the problem we find ourselves faced with today. They also allow us to respond with freedom to the needs of family and the community we live in. Math and history can be learned but one cannot teach what seems to come to us naturally. We can explain, model and clarify what they are and what they mean. There are some things that haven’t changed in the last several hundred years if not longer. I am referring to our basic needs as human beings. We still need clothing, water, air, shelter, food and I’d like to add love and affection. Most kids learn and respond to what they see going on around them. To a young man-‘pa’ is everything. He is a teacher and a role model, a protector and provider, a mentor and a warrior.

My question,then, is do the social scientists really understand what a young man is truly thinking about when they ask the questions and surmise what the answers mean? Can anyone explain clearly what another is thinking and feeling at any given time? I doubt it. Who among us can describe what a cherry tastes like when you pick it fresh from the tree. Or what chocolate tastes like as it melts in your mouth.

After twenty plus years of hearing the stories from many fathers and sons about this very topic. I have put together a list of basic things that most sons need from their fathers or a strong and trusted role model that are necessary in order for a young man to engage in the process of transitioning from boyhood to manhood. I have been asked to share this list with anyone who is interested in learning more about this. Many who asked were single moms, single dads and grandparents. So I will try to add another ‘basic’ from the list in following blogs.

This first ‘thing’ that fathers need to give their sons is a must. As dads, role models or as mentors we need to give our sons our undivided TIME. If we say that we are going to do something with our sons then nothing short of an emergency or crisis should come between that promise and our time with our sons. He learns to trust what you say. By doing this first it establishes the footings upon which credibility is built. It also says that you see him as important and that he matters–that he is relevant. At this point we are planting seeds anticipating the growth that will follow.”

That’s the way I see it anyway, Jim

Comments will find me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

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