The calendar indicates that today is father’s day. Sounds great that a day exists to allegedly honor fatherhood. Also, we know that the greeting cards and e cards industries along with other retail businesses that provide gifts benefit greatly from this label on the calendar. However, I used the word allegedly because I do not believe fatherhood is sufficiently appreciated.
Fathering does matter as I was again reminded by a greeting card I received from my adult daughter. I quote, “You’re the best DaD a daughter could have. Thank you, Dad, for inspiring me to take risks and believe in myself.” Whomever wrote this at the greeting card company “american greetings” really got it right in highlighting how important fathering is in the life of a child. For both boys and girls fathers are mostly responsible for children taking risks. Fathers play with children tends to be more physical. When done with care, children learn that they can take risks safely and this carries through into adulthood. Since the quoted greeting card came from my daughter it is important to highlight the importance of fatherhood is to females. Girls who are un-fathered or poorly fathered are far more likely to become pregnant as teens and more likely to get into unhealthy relationships with men. The validation by a father is an important ingredient for girls in their journey to lead a productive and healthy life.
I have often blogged and won’t repeat the statistics that support the devastating results of a lack of fathering yet we as a society have seemed to forget how important a father is in the life of a child. Let’s honor fatherhood for the other 364 days a year.
I was pleased to see an opinion piece in the Sunday (6/4) edition of the NY Times by Carlos Lozada where he discusses two recent books on masculinity. Richard V. Reeves book entitled “Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling and Josh Hawley, the senior U.S. senator from Missouri, new book, “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs. ,” which draws on biblical influences — the stories of Adam, Abraham, David and Solomon in particular — to combat the malaise of American men, so addled by video games and pornography and troubled by depression and drug abuse that they cannot discern their calling. “They have no template,” Hawley worries, “no vision for what it is to be a man.”
Hawley offers no practical ideas what to do about restoring manhood but his statement about no templates and no vision for what it is to be a man does resonate. In a previous blog I did address Reeves’ suggestions that included holding boys back one year before Kindergarten and encouraging more men to seek HEAL (health, education, administration, literacy) jobs. However, Reeves does not address why men are avoiding the HEAL jobs and how this can be changed. In fact, in terms of education, Lozada points out that the percentage of male teachers has actually declined by nine percentage points in the last 25 years. As a former male elementary school teacher I can attest to the societal perception that teaching is not a manly profession and that the men who choose to be teachers are losers afraid to compete in more lucrative occupations. This bias about men in education and healthcare, other than physicians, needs structural initiatives to bring change. Several countries where educators are treated with greater prestige and respect attract more men into teaching. Increasing teacher pay and autonomy would go a long way in encouraging more men into the profession. In addition, career education has not had sufficient attention in school curriculums. If young men were taught about how teachers and health care workers demonstrate the best of masculinity these jobs may become more appealing. I have frequently blogged about the archetypes of masculinity and how men can be empowered by expressing the archetypes in the light. For example, the lover archetype which in the light speaks to compassion and connection traits that are fundamental attributes of HEAL jobs. In fact maybe we do have a template for restoring non-toxic pride in masculinity. Let’s refrain from gender neutrality which harms both men and women and instead applaud the virtues of masculinity in the light and the benefits that accrue for both men and society at large.