GIVE me daughters anytime. They might morph into alien-spawn undergoing exorcism during the hormone-abundant teens, but at least I don’t have to teach them how to be a good man, in this good-man drought.
I feel sure teaching a young man how to be a good man is a very difficult job, and not one I am equipped for, hence why I have daughters – I think we are given what we can cope with not necessarily what we deserve.
Mothers have been blamed for their offsprings’ (mainly their sons) failings forever and a day, and let’s face it, men have a tendency to be particularly flawed, but why is that? Is it genetic, developmental, environmental or are the male of our species still more closely tied to our survival-oriented Neolithic predecessors than females?
We can ponder this endlessly, too, but I really do pity the parents of sons. Despite their delightful childhood demeanour, boys have to be equipped to grow into men who respect women, can care for and love them without stifling their independence, be willing to take on a (sometimes ruthless) career with a wage (and commensurate responsibility) to support a one-income family when babies arrive, or lovingly support a woman who wants to return to work and either become a house-husband or agree to pay (financially, and perhaps emotionally) for their child to attend day care, be a positive but strong role model for his children, not a blokey, beer-swilling layabout, but one prepared to change nappies, cook and clean, ferry children to and from their many extra-curricular and social activities while helping their woman feel romanced, intellectually and emotionally satisfied and protected, while keeping their own sanity intact.
Without doubt, women have a varied role to fulfil, but don’t forget men do too. And judging from media reports, men seem to have the hardest time behaving in a way that begets respect, and I’m not just talking about high profile sporting celebs! Newspapers are full of the stupidity of ordinary men, the result of alcohol abuse, violent tendencies and just plain dumb-power.
It confounds me how to even begin teaching a son how to be manly, without being masochistic or chauvinistic, how to respect women without becoming a hen-pecked victim, how to be simultaneously ambitious and compassionate, how to be strong and soft (sounds like a toilet tissue, I know). And likely without much recognition, because we women do it all without expecting a trophy or a medal, so it’s about time you guys just got with the program and gave it your all, regardless of what your men friends think or say, and regardless of the material rewards. It’s time to give up on the idea of quid pro quo (this for that) and give unconditionally of yourself without the need for reward.
I’ll never forget the time a grandfather told me he never took time off work to see his own children receive a merit certificate or achieve something important to them because his male colleagues made fun of him for even asking! So, maybe that’s the key. Men and in particular dads, it’s up to you to let your sons – and the other guys in your life – know that it’s ok to make family, the women in your life and your own emotional health, a priority.