Why Boys Need Men in Their Lives to Keep Them in Line
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
|The Good Men Project|
I have a serious situation going on in my family right now. One of my nephews is acting out in the worst way. At first we all attributed it to him being a teenager and his hormones are raging. We figured it is a teenager’s job to put their parents through hell. But then my nephew began to get really disrespectful and full of rage. This of course pushed my sister to point of feeling like he couldn’t live with in her home anymore.
We are close knit family full of women with my mother being the matriarch. During a trip to the beach recently my nephew, usually a guarded young man, expressed that he feels like part of him is missing since his father isn’t in his life. He honestly admitted that he knows that this is the cause for most of his behavior. I explained to him that no matter what he feels about his father’s absence that he should always love his mother because she loves him and provides him all he needs and even sometimes desires.
But there is one thing that is missing and my sister can’t provide it… the discipline, brawn, and effectiveness of a constant male figure in his like. As women we pretend like we can do it all and be it all but we can’t take away the fact that children respect and even at times fear their fathers or male figures in their lives in a way that we as women don’t evoke. Maybe it’s our loving and forgiving nature, our nurturing, or just our physical makeup. Whatever it may be, I’ve seen boys act up with their mothers and straighten up quickly when their father or another male figure in the picture steps in to check them.
This isn’t the first nephew I’ve seen go through this. Time and time again I have heard stories from friends, colleagues, and church members, all single mothers, expressing the behavioral difficulties of raising their boys. The commonality is the reality that these boys’ fathers aren’t active in their lives and there isn’t a male figure who has stepped in to fill the void. The community of earlier times doesn’t exist to help chip in to make sure boys aren’t in the neighborhood getting into trouble.
Today’s young men need constant structure in order to prepare them for tomorrow’s life challenges. I see this with my nephew who likes to go to bed late at night and then struggles to get out of bed in the morning for school or other daily events planned. If discipline is needed, a boy, is more likely to listen to his father whom he won’t even dare consider being disrespectful to or stepping out of line to. Boys need visuals. If they have a direct male figure to use as a model of what being a responsible man is, it teaches them in a more effective way than any program could do.
I believe my nephew will be okay because he does have male figures. He inherited a great uncle and has a great god father in addition to the pool of professional female family members that are helping to structure him and praying for him every day. My concern is really for the boys out there that don’t have this support. How to do we reach those? Do we continue to do all we can to get these fathers back in their sons’ lives, do we continue to tell women to make better choices in men or do we get back to a community mindset?
Whatever should be the plan we have to do it soon because we have a lot of boys stepping out of line and we need the men in our society to pull them back in.