Boys hardly talk about their fathers from an emotional angle as they do about their mothers which is possibly due to father’s absence or emotional unavailability in the lives of their sons.
One thing we should stop taking for granted is the importance of a Father – Son relationship. This is needed to raise a balanced man in the boy child. We need to start raising the boy child to be aware that his purpose in life is not just to protect and provide while bottling up pain but also to be aware of his weaknesses, not shy away from responsibility and be open to talk about his feelings. This job cannot be handled by the mother alone; we need fathers to step up and lead by example – to be present and functional in the lives of the boy child.
Studies have proved that a bigger population of inmates all over the world are men who did not have a father in their lives. It has been proved that fatherlessness has greatly contributed to the chaos and struggles that surround masculinity. The truth is that masculinity is bestowed; a boy greatly learns from the father – his understanding of who he is.
A boy’s relationship with his father defines his moral construct and he views his society. Robert Bly in his book ‘Iron John’ writes that ‘When a father and son spend long hours together… we could say that a substance almost like food passes from the older body to the younger.
Both psychologists and sociologists consistently emphasize the significance of fathers in the lives of their children. Bishop TD Jakes argues that a father can speak to a child’s sense of identity and purpose in ways that challenge the child to move beyond the security and comfort of childhood. He further says that fathers can provide models for masculinity.
A father charts the way through the maze of masculinity for a boy. Clearly, most men who lived in homes where there was no father, or who never knew who their fathers were and therefore did not experience the goodness of a father’s love, will often suppress that wounded part of their lives. Such men are continuously in search of a father figure, and when they fail, they are at a loss as to how to fulfill that fatherly role when they eventually become one.
To be a renewed MANE (Masculinity in a New Era) as we call it at ImeyReach, we need to be very deliberate about fatherhood. We need to be there for our sons, to help them find the paths through the chaotic tussle that comes with masculinity. We don’t have to be perfect to be fathers, we just need to be there. Being a father is not about being a superman. It’s about being there; beyond financial needs – to be emotionally available.
The Renewed MANE is a program by Imeyreach Foundation that is available to inspire men to improve in areas they are struggling with. We equip fathers with the right tools to raise the boy child to become a better person for himself and his community. It all begins at home!
Written by Andrea Otieno.