All theories aside, a simple truth – a basic fact – frames everything: boys are men in the making. Anyway you cut it, the facts are the facts. Patriarchy may be dead, but right now, the ‘boy code” (Real Boys: Rescuing Our Boys from the Myths of Boyhood Pollack, 1999) rules the roost rushing the boys along the river into “guy code” (Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men Kimmel, 2009) [my view is they do not become men] and over the falls into the still pool of male unhappiness (I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression and The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression Diamond, 2005). The boys deserve a better shot at manhood. We can give it to them. Collectively, we can “kick some serious butt” and shatter the boy code. You game?
So, my friend Brett Stephenson, author of the outstanding book, From Boys to Men (Park Street Press, 2006), writes: “More and more in my reading, I come across research that seems too ridiculous to be true. In Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, for example, the authors point toward a number of studies that reflect the importance of men in a relationship, both as a spouse and as father. The fact that we even have to research whether fathers have a purpose and value is one of the saddest commentaries on our culture that I can imagine. It’s as though the underlying belief in our country is that fathers are expendable, except for the money they provide. As a man, and a father, I find this most insulting [an understatement to me -TB]. Is it any wonder so many men don’t recognize and fulfill their true responsibilities as fathers? Have we really digressed as cultural parents so far that we have to prove via empirical research that fathers indeed do have day-t0-day value in the emotional upbringing of their children?”
Kudos to Brett! My view . . . it’s worse than that. What do you think?
When I come to the game, I bring my balls. Bring yours too.
The great secret about teenage boys, the one that simply confounds and screws up the grown ups (Dads included) is they’re trying to develop into young men. I kid you not! Superficially, defies all observable sense. That’s the kicker: there’s magic and mystery going on here and when/if we don’t lead the parade right . . . poof! It all goes up in smoke or down in s..thole. Ancient African Proverb: “If you do not initiate the boys, they will burn the village down.” Hey, ever watch the film or read the book The Fight Club? Haven’t met a teenage boy who doesn’t love or like that movie and cannot explain why. Check it out!
Looking forward to meeting with you all. Bring your gauchos. Were going to rock!
People ask me all the time “what is it with the boys?” How do you makes sense of them? I say, “two words sum up boys: strength and play.” They all want to be strong and they all want to play. What an adventure! It’s joining in the “game” that trips up the grown ups – including the Dads.
Looking forward to meeting with all of you!
The “Boy Whisperer”
I’m amazed by how our children’s statements serve as windows to the essential role we have in their lives.
Last weekend, for example, my 7-year-old experienced a nose bleed. It wasn’t serious; nothing more than dried-out membranes that many experience this time of year. I wasn’t home at the time so it was Granny who attended to him with the nurturing, loving care that is uniquely grandma. Still, my little man’s statement to her was, “Granny, you better call Dad.”
A couple weeks ago some of us dads in the neighborhood got together to have a baseball game with our kids. As we divided up into teams, D.J. lobbied for me. “I want my dad on my team,” he said. I was moved and puzzled at the same time; D.J. can be pretty competitive and while I used to be a half-decent ballplayer, nowadays I’m mostly just old, certainly older than some of the other dads who were there and in better shape than I am. But on this day, D.J. wasn’t as concerned about winning or losing as he was about he and I competing together.
He’s also at that “my dad’s tougher than your dad” age and God help me when he volunteers me to prove it. Or, my dad can do this or my dad can do that, which provides for some further teachable moments.
At the end of the day, my son’s confidence in me to be able to do anything inspires me to try because being his go-to and sounding board (for whatever he needs at 7 years old) is the greatest purpose I’ve ever known.
Friends tell me it’s even more rewarding when your adult children continue to use you as a touchstone. When they call, for example, to ask your advice in financial issues or what direction to take in something or how to fix anything from broken cars to broken hearts.
The fact is, we matter, we matter a great deal in shaping our children’s character and helping them to believe in themselves by spending the time and effort they need us to experience that we believe in them. When their desire for that sort of reassurance and connection continues well in to their adult years, what better a statement that we truly do make a difference?
Join us for the 4th annual Fathers Fest Saturday June 19th, 2010 (the day before Fathers day). A special way for everyone – kids, teens and adults – to celebrate fathers (and father figures) in their lives. You do not need to be a parent or bring a child to attend – come as you are end enjoy the energy of this festival.
- Honoring ceremony for dads & celebrate being men
- Spend quality time with family & friends
- Build community
- Have some FUN: volley ball, horseshoes, frisbee and more
When: Saturday June 19th, 2010 – 12 noon to 5 pm (day before fathers day)
Cost: $5 per adult; $1 for 18 and under
Weather: Come rain or shine – we have a covered pavilion and tents in case of inclement weather.
Food: Bring picnic food or snacks to share. Hot dogs and other grill friendly food, plus non-alcoholic
(pets are welcome at this park – alcohol is not)
RSVP or Questions Contact:
Tom Fitzpatrick 248-229-6028 or
Larry Herren 248-420-0112 or
Dave Jacobs 248-981-3188
It is important to find time to do with your kid(s), it is more important to be with your kid(s). Every child wants to be seen and heard; Look at me, Daddy look at me and the father take a moment to see what is going on and then the father fills the empty space with “That’s nice” and in that moment neither the father or child is fully engaged in the moment.
Back up this senerio to the moment of Daddy look at me and the father takes a moment to connect with eye(s) contact and to be fully present the father sees his child’s glistening joy, sees their actions and sees how proud they are of themself. Being filled with their father’s undivided attention the child comes alive brighter then before. The father smiles and says “I see you are really good at that and I am proud of you and what you do”.
In the first scenario the father is offering a comment without much connection. The second scenario the father is being fully present and in being present the father is offering a terrific gift to the child and himself.
My challenge to you is to be fully present with your Kid(s), by being so you will give them and yourself a big gift.