"It's happening all over, in all sorts of families, not just young people moving back home but also young people taking longer to reach adulthood over all. It's a development that predates the current economic doldrums, and no one knows yet what the impact will be - on the prospects of the young men and women; on the parents on whom so many of them depend; on society, built on the expectation of an orderly progression in which kids finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and eventually retire to live on pensions supported by the next crop of kids who finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and on and on. The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain untethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, travelling (and often gruelling) Teach for America jobs, forstalling the beginning of adult life."
by Robin Marantz Henig. Published August 18 2010 New York Times Magazine.
PART 3 - "WHAT SONS NEED FROM THEIR FATHERS"
Although this quote is not distincively referring to sons or fathers, they are included in the category the article discusses. The article's message leads into the first point of this post.
6. LEARNING ABOUT INDEPENDENCE.
Today everyone has a different opinion of what independence is. Most parents think of it as one of their goals, part of their 'job' in bringing up children. It is said that boys usually desire and move towards independence from parents earlier than girls.
Independence is described as ~ not being dependent on someone or something for existence, validity or effectiveness.
~ not influenced by others.
~ thinking and acting for oneself.
~ not depending on another quality for its value.
~ life of its own.
~ not subject to outside control.
~ not connected or attached.
All these definitions suggest that the independent person operates completely and maturely without assistance. Are young people who cry for their own independence from their parents, really living a life that can be described in the above terms? Independence = autonomy.
~#** FACT **#~ THE DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS FOR "INDEPENDENCE" HAVE NOT CHANGED. PARENTS CAN STILL MAKE THEM THE GOAL TO POINT THEIR CHILDREN TOWARDS.
Robin Marantz Herig's article alarms us into looking more critically and honestly at what we are doing and need to do from here on with our children, regardless of their age. Or is it all inevitable, a new order or step in the times we now live in? Henig points out that "Getting to what we would generally call adulthood is happening later than ever.....To others, the long road to adulthood signifies something deep, durable and maybe better-suited to our neurological hard-wiring. What we're seeing, they insist, is the dawning of a new life stage - a stage that all of us need to adjust to."
Jeff Arnett, author of 'Emerging Adulthood:The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties', argues that a century back, society took time to take on board the concept that adolescence was a new developmental stage. And in time "education, health care, social services and the law all changed to address the particular needs of 12 - 18 year olds." Arnett also comments on the confusion society has given teens and 20's with the various ages to be able to vote, legally drink alcohol, join the military, legally leave home, drive a car, rent a car without "hefty surcharges", be still covered under parents medical insurance plans, parents income considered when children apply for university scholarships.... "We seem unable to agree when someone is old enough to take on adult responsibilities".
He also tells us that neuroscientists used to think that the brain stopped maturing soon after puberty, but now they know it continues to mature up until around the age of 25. - "the only people who got this right were the car-rental companies."
Arnett is publishing a book for parents of children in their 20's, in 2011.
As this article suggests, parents can play a large part in keeping a child in their teens or 20's "in limbo between adolescence and adulthood", by being "helicopter parents" or parents who pay for their children's living costs.
As some participants in Arnett's studies have stated, this emerging adulthood option is only for the privileged , well-heeled families. Arnett disagrees and uses a girl, Nicole, as a representative of an impoverished background. For her, "emerging adulthood represents an opportunity - maybe a last opportunity - to turn one's life around."
But Arnett admits that not every young person goes through a period of "emerging adulthood - identity exploration, self focus, experimentation in love, work and worldview". He says sometimes they miss this stage by choice or by circumstances handed to them, and may face it at a later stage in life such as a midlife crisis, or never face it at all. Arnett's close friend, Richard Lerner, disagrees, saying "you must develop, what you're supposed to develop when you're supposed to develop it or you'll never adequately develop it." Lerner says that for emerging adulthood to qualify as a developmental stage, it must be "both universal and essential"
Henig asks, is this a stage that is here to stay or not? If it is here to stay, she says systems need to change to accommodate it, and makes some suggestions.
It interested me that each suggestion had at its base the element of teaching the person in their 20's, to take responsibility in some shape or form, of their own lives - learn to become independent.
Marantz Henig seems to state that independence must be reached, sometime.
As this article hints and as I suggested in my post WEEK 17 QUOTE 17, both parents are involved in the process of children coming to independence. Henig only momentarily touches on the connection of 20's who don't choose to "get on with their lives", with parents who are overly involved with their children's lives, be they "helicopter parents", parents who pay for their children's living costs or parents who are known by their child to not step back out of their lives. It agrees that parents can continue to contribute to the lives of their children even into their 20's. Therefore parents must be able to change their tactics and assist their teens and children in their 20's to move toward independence.
In the case of sons, the route to independence is through a teamwork approach with dad. Working together, having ample experiences of challenges with their built-in risks, together with dad. Fathers have a different perspective on independence to mums. Boys in their teens need more dad or male perspective, than mum's to become independent.
This experience of challenges must be regular and escalating in what they demand. A once-a -year rock climb won't contribute a lot into helping a boy to learn independence. It is essential that it be regular, and with dad present.
Don't load them up beyond their years or maturity level - eg, 'Take care of Mum won't you, Sam" to six-year-old Sam, as dad leaves for six months away with the army. Sons need the satisfaction of involvement in a process with others, with support being decreased over time, and seeing something completed successfully. True independence will not be learnt by a quick demonstration through the steps and then handing the job over to be completed and done by the son, alone. This only builds resentment and a self-centered form of independence.
Repeated happy experiences with dad, not only give skills and expertise but also builds positive confidence, self esteem and a correct view of responsibility, into the mind of a son. From this well developed mental state, a son is more likely to move successfully towards independence.
~#** FACT **#~ INDEPENDENCE MUST BE MODELLED AND TAUGHT BY DAD OVER TIME (REGULARLY) THROUGH WORKING TOGETHER (DAD PRESENT).
With the western world's trend to decreasing male influence into the lives of boys, we now have a confusion about what maleness IS.
Ian Grant describes it as ..."sometimes confusing strong with violent, virile with promiscuous, adventurous with reckless."
What is masculinity, maleness, being manly? For some it's to go into the back blocks of New Zealand's South Island to hunt deer or catch fish, for others it's lifting 50kg weights or training hard in rugby. Sam Koenen suggested "hair-chested scotch drinkers ....tattooed torsos attached to 22inch biceps..." The dictionary says masculinity is characteristics or qualities that are particularly male.
Many authors and researchers agree with Frank Pittman, "Man Enough: Fathers, Sons and the Search for Masculinity", who says that boys learn about masculinity from their dads.
~#** FACT **#~ IF DAD IS NOT AVAILABLE TO BE THE ROLE MODEL, THEY USE THE MEDIA MALE ICONS AS THEIR MENTORS AND "AS A RESULT THEY GROW UP MIRRORING OVERBLOWN MYTHS OF MANHOOD"
Sam Koenen in his blog "MANLY DAD", says "masculinity is most manly in the realm of fatherhood". He goes on to talk about a number of facets he names as characteristics of being male - an Explorer, a Cultivator, a Protector, a Wisdom Gatherer and a Disciple. He writes that the Explorer's main aim is to discover. He is also a visionary who is prepared to 'travel' into unknown areas at risk to himself. "The central motivation of the Explorer is a deep-felt desire to conquer and subdue - to exercise dominion. This is why boys love tree forts and playing war. This desire for dominion seems inherent in most boys, and parents (especially fathers) must be wise to cultivate it."
Koenen encourages fathers to be fully involved in a boy's games of conquering and subduing. He has only briefly introduced the other four facets.
A boy's desire for dominion was historically put to the test in Africa, Jewish and many other cultures. At the age of fourteen, a boy was considered to be entering manhood and initiation ceremonies of challenges, adventures and tests, were the norm.
The medieval practice for boys of the middle to upper class being trained first as a page, then advancing to a squire and eventually graduating to become a knight, may seem rather 'picture-book' to us today. But in those days boys had clear role models of some aspects of masculinity to identify with.
I agree with Sam Koenen that boys desire to explore this aspect of their inherent character. My boys have all shown interest in books they read and games they played for many years, be they knights, soldiers or conquerors who won their battles.
James Stenson in "Father, the Family Protector", makes the point that adult males have instincts, attitudes and physical strengths which equip them "for tough-minded, sacrificial service to those people who count most in their lives, starting with their families." He says that the instinct to protect "lies at the core of a man's masculinity." He also describes how this instinct is developed through a variety of aspects of a boy, from a young age. ".... his muscles, will power, stamina, competitive drive, aggressiveness and assertiveness, mathematical and abstractive powers of mind, love for strategic planning and manipulating physical reality, strong sense of fairness and ethical conduct..." all combine to produce a man with strong protective instinct.
Stenson tells a story of an experience that he had one weekend with a friend when trying to cross a busy city street. As they waited at the crossing on the roadside, an elderly lady who was blind with two, possibly, granddaughters, and a German shepherd seeing-eye dog, waited on the opposite kerb to cross the street. "Suddenly -- chaos. From down the block hurtled a large mongrel street dog, barking and snarling loudly, spoiling for a fight. Swiftly he lunged at the German shepherd , who sprang back at him in snarling, furious rage. The two dogs pounced and snapped with bared teeth at each other...... and all-out serious fight. The noise was loud and shocking."
The old woman thrashed her walking stick around, the two girls screamed, shrieked and sobbed, and the two dogs fought.
The noise of this wildness "electrified everyone in earshot". The writer and his friend ran across the street to help as countless young and middle-aged men appeared on the scene, having dashed out of cars and taxis - motors left running, doors wide open. A man from a nearby townhouse raced in, rolling up his newspaper in his hands as he ran, to use as a club to separate the fighting dogs.
Twelve to fifteen men came to the woman's aid, removing her and the girls to safety, hitting the dogs with newspapers and jackets, chasing off the attacking dog. They then turned to calm and reassure the woman and girls that everything was OK. Afterwards people drifted off, men returned to their cars and the woman and children crossed the street, entering a home nearby.
Stenson comments on what happened. "Men dropped what they were doing and heedless of their own safety, flung themselves forward to protect others...."
Here is a picture of masculinity.
Boys are male, and a father's displays of maleness has the potential to be a far bigger influence on his son than any other males influence. This is why fathers who neglect this responsibility, fail their son's miserably. "This lack of attention from fathers, results in the son's inability to identify with his father as a means of establishing his own masculinity. A son deprived of the confirmation and security that might have been provided by father's presence, is unable to advance to adulthood." says John W Wilson.
~#** FACT **#~ TO FIND THEIR OWN MASCULINITY, SONS MUST IDENTIFY WITH THEIR OWN FATHER.
Mr Wilson also says, "A males gender identity - his masculinity - has been and continues to be volatile. It has to be earned and proved on a day-to-day basis. A man can't just be masculine, he must constantly "prove it"......Being a man means achieving, accomplishing.... and providing adequately for oneself and one's family."
~#** FACT **#~ SONS NEED THEIR FATHERS TO LEAD THE WAY, BE REAL AND FRANK ABOUT LIVING AS A BOY AND A MAN.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS, dads care for your sons and boldly put into place the things necessary to build your boy into an independent male.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
A COLOURFUL NEW LOOK FOR "THIS WEEK WITH THE KIDS" - THANK YOU INDI AND SETH!!!
"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man about. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."
The arrogance of youth! But we've all been guilty of the same - sure opinions being reviewed and often adjusted, even discarded as we have matured. If you have a son that is fourteen and are struggling in your relationship, there is hope of him changing his attitude towards you as you change your approach with him. Read on for some help on how you could do this.
This post is a continuation of the previous post - WEEK 18 QUOTE 18.
It is PART 2 of WHAT SONS NEED FROM THEIR DAD.
In the previous post I talked about ~
* how dads can and why they need to CONNECT with their sons.
* sons need DISCIPLINE, AFFECTION, LOVE AND FORGIVENESS from their dad.
In this post I'll talk about ~
* dads need to be a MODEL OF EMOTIONS AND SELF CONTROL.
* dads must SHARE REAL LIFE TOGETHER with their sons.
* sons can best be EQUIPPED FOR THE FUTURE by dad.
This last section has five points, the fourth and fifth points are still in process, so will have to wait till the next post.
3. MODEL OF EMOTIONS AND SELF CONTROL.
Sons need dad to be a model of living well with his emotions and self control, that is worth following. I think Sean Sands was a pretty good example of self control in the Quote from the last post.
"There is some frightening research from Australia: nearly a third of men never speak to their father. Another third only use 'put downs', or mock their fathers when speaking to them. The final third have merely 'distance' talk: about sport, power tools etc. Only one in twelve sees his father as an emotional support."
I read once about a Catholic nun who was involved in working in a prison for men. A couple of weeks before Mother's Day, she was asked by an inmate if she could get a Mother's day card for him to send to his mum. When other prisoners heard about it they also requested cards to send to their mums. The nun phoned a card company, explained the situation and they agreed to supply her with a huge quantity of Mother's Day cards for free. They were all snapped up by the inmates. A few months later as Father's Day approached, she decided to be prepared and so phoned the card company again and was given a huge supply of Father's Day cards. Not one male prisoner asked for or wanted a Father's Day card when offered. Years had passed and the same situation was repeatedly lived out in front of her - she always got rid of the Mother's Day cards, but was still stuck with the first shipment of Father's Day cards!
The way we live emotionally really governs our lives. A son, particularly in his early years, watches his dad's emotional patterns and use or lack of self control. These patterns deeply affect his developing character.
Through a dad's emotions, he silently communicates information on the importance , the priority and the value he places on individuals in the family. This will either be positive or negative. Dads need to regulate their negative emotions such as anger, resentment, hatred, jealousy and envy, moodiness, coldness or distance, and be a positive role model.
The two photos at the top of this post are visual examples of the emotion of two fathers which affect their sons - not only for that moment but possibly, who knows for how long?
Sons regularly need to see dad demonstrate self control in situations they know impact dad personally, even hurt dad personally. Boys need to see, know and begin to understand dad's "feeling side". This is a model for them as they learn to respond to a world with many hurts and disappointments.
-#** FACT **#- THE EMOTIONS DAD DISPLAYS ARE ABSORBED AND EFFECT SONS - FOR THEIR GOOD OR TO THEIR DETRIMENT.
-#** FACT **#- SONS NEED TO SEE DAD DEAL POSITIVELY WITH PERSONAL HURT.
In the last post I talked about play wrestling, this activity is clear in showing a son how to become a good winner and a good loser. He must experience both, because real life gives us lots of experiences of losing, so dad needs to equip him. [ The movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" is a great movie portraying a positive attitude to 'losing'] Play wrestling teaches a son "how to use physical strength without dominating and hurting. Play fighting will help your son learn to control himself, a skill that will be vital for him as he heads into the emotion filled years of adolescence."
-#** FACT **#- SONS NEED TO LEARN THROUGH ACTIVITY WITH DAD, HOW TO CONTROL THEMSELVES.
4. SHARING REAL LIFE TOGETHER.
Before a dad can gain entrance to be heard by his son on real life subjects, he must first make sure he has a strong bond connection with his son. this earns the right to be heard. This is essential with sons of eight years and older.
Again dad is a model that a son copies in the area of learning to listen.
-#** FACT **#- IF DAD LEARNS TO LISTEN TO HIS SON, HIS SON WILL LEARN TO LISTEN TO DAD (eventually)
Listening - like good communication, works both ways. Lecturing is the killer in this area. Dad needs to be open and approachable to honest feedback from the son - even if it is negative. If you know or sense there is distance in the relationship, dad must take the initiative first to erectify the problem. Dad after all is the maturer, more experienced of the two, so he needs to lead the way, set the example to follow. Dad needs to clearly admit when he is wrong, otherwise he teaches his son to never admit fault. These beneficial practices all demonstrate love to a son.
Ian Grant in "Fathers Who Dare Win", suggests some questions to help stop conversations getting stuck and shutting down into non-communication. He says to move away from asking "Why?" questions, instead ask question that open or begin a conversation ~
"What has to be done?"
"What can I do to help?"
"Could you explain a little more?"
"Could you tell me your reason for asking?"
"What needs to change?"
"What are you trying to accomplish?"
Respect - is a very important area to dads and sons alike.
"We all crave the love and understanding of a father. Many men have told me that the most important aspect of their journey from boyhood to manhood was when they finally felt they had earned the respect of their fathers."
Many studies support this high priority acceptance - respect being given by a father to his son. Teenage sons particularly need to know they are important to and respected by their fathers. Through this they develop self confidence and a strong sense of identity.
A son wants to be respected for who he is, not his achievements academically or in sport. He wants to know he is valued for himself, as a person.
Respect can be communicated to a son in the way dad speaks to him. If this is a regular pattern, it will encourage a son to speak respectfully in return to dad. Dad again needs to lead the way.
CLICK here to read Alex Kronemer's great story of his struggle working at being a positive dad to his sons, while dealing with a bad relationship with his own father.
-#** FACT **#- SONS NEED THE RESPECT OF THEIR FATHERS FIRST, SHOWING THEM HOW RESPECT WORKS.
Pornography - The world is increasingly public in displaying pornography. Even in child TV time slots, shops and public places, pornography screams out loud and clear. The statistics of addiction to pornography in men, teenage boys and boys, is alarming.
-#** FACT **#- SONS NEED DADS TO BE HONEST ABOUT THE DESTRUCTIVE EFFECTS PORNOGRAPHY HAS IN BOYS AND MEN'S LIVES, AND EQUIP THEIR SONS TO KNOW THEY CAN MAKE CHOICES TO STEP AWAY FROM ITS HOLD.
Dad needs to know reliable information here, as this industry is subtley strong, geared to catch and control its addicts. Once armed, dad can know how to prepare and steer boys away from pornography, as well as look for the signs of bad habits starting.
To help sons with pornography, dad needs to be fully aware of what his son is watching on the internet, TV, video games, movies and magazines.
It seems boys can become addicted to pornography because they themselves suffer from personal trauma which has not been resolved. If a boy's personal trauma stays unresolved, his heart is still hurt or injured. This is where pornography steps in with its superficiality of providing pleasure and the appearance of keeping a boys heart "safe from the possibility of further pain. The reality however, was that my heart became more and more detatched, thus setting me up for further pain down the road," says Ken Weatherbee in his article "Pornography and Trauma. There is a Connection"
This too is where a boy's peers do not always help. Encouragement from friends to be involved and experience pornography can both put pressure on boys to conform, and also be a powerful questioning force on a boy's self assessment of his manhood. The group attitude is that involvement with pornography, proves manliness. So boys can be both confused and pressured.
Ken Weatherbee writes, "To all fathers reading, it is so important to realize how our children, particularly our sons, look up to us as heroes - they are like sponges absorbing our actions and behaviour into their subconscious minds. When we look at women with lust, our sons observe and internalize this example as they develop their own view toward women. Our comments on casualness toward "locker room" talk leads these young boys to establish an unhealthy attitude toward women - sexual toys for our personal gratification."
Mr Weatherbee in his article, describes his trauma as a boy and talks clearly of his own recovery and the program that enabled him to move out from the control pornography had on him.
CLICK here if you want to know more.
-#** FACT **#- IF DAD IS A POSITIVE PART OF HIS SON'S LIFE, THEN HE IS THERE TO PICK UP ON THE MOMENT IN CONVERSATION, TO CLEARLY AND TRUTHFULLY SPEAK ABOUT THE DEADLY ADDICTIVENESS OF PORNOGRAPHY - AND HIS SON WILL LISTEN
5. EQUIPPING FOR THE FUTURE.
Many writers agree that a boy develops into an adult with less difficulties if his father is a part of the whole process.
Positive expectations towards their future life - As already stated, sons need to know their father has confidence in them, holds a high opinion of what they are and what they can be in the future. For fathers with sons who have very different ambitions in life, or approach to work, this can be very difficult. Regardless of this being true ~
_#** FACT **#- SONS NEED TO KNOW THEIR FATHER HAS A HIGH OPINION OF THEIR ABILITY TO MAKE GOOD CHOICES IN THE FUTURE.
As a dad, if you don't think of your son in this way, you need to do some work - either check if your assessment levels and attitudes are appropriate toward your son - or win your son over to improve and change in his attitudes and habits, so he heads in a direction you can be supportive of.
A son's confidence, self esteem and sense of self worth is all wrapped up with his relationship with dad!
-#** FACT **#- FATHERS PROVIDE SONS WITH IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT.
The safety, warmth and affection he feels from his father as a growing boy and teenager, all translates into a well adjusted young man who responsibly separates from the family and becomes an adult.
Attitudes to Women - Sons observe, learn and are affected by the level of respect their father demonstrates towards the boy's mother, and women and girls generally.
His perspective and treatment of people of other cultures and socio-economic groups, also affects a son's developing mindset for the future.
The father-son relationship shapes the son's attitude to sexuality, his emotional health, his relationship with his future spouse and his success relationally as an adult.
Sex - Most dads have certain areas of life that are important to them, which they want their sons to know about and be competent in - maybe to handle money well, or be able to build a house. For my husband, he wanted all our children to learn a musical instrument, because he is musical and music is important to him.
The subject of sex is important to dads and likewise to sons. However sex is not a subject that many dads willingly pursue regularly in conversation with their sons. it is natural that a boy wants information and to understand sex.
-#** FACT **#- SEX IS IMPORTANT TO MALES, SO IT IS A MUST THAT DADS DO MOST OF THE TALKING ABOUT SEX WITH THEIR SON, INSTEAD OF ALLOWING THE SCHOOL, THE PUBLIC BILLBOARDS, TV AND NEWSPAPER MEDIA, MOVIES, MUSIC AND MAGAZINES, TO GIVE THEIR VERSION OF THIS IMPORTANT SUBJECT.
"Ten Talks Parents Must Have with Their Children About Sex and Character" by Pepper Schwart and Dominic Cappello, seems to be a popular and a useful book. It asks parents to identify their own values and views on ethics and religion and then assists you to teach these in the context of sex education with your children.
"The Story of Me" by Stan and Brenna Jones, "Before I was Born" by Carolyn Nystrom, "What's the Big Deal?" by Stan and Brenna Jones, "Facing the Facts" by Stan and Brenna Jones - we have found great as conversation starter in discussion with our children.
"Sex with Attitude. A Relationship Handbook" is marvellous both in delivering text in up-to-date language and in it's creative visuals. All the "Attitude" books are highly recommended - "Hardwired. A Handbook for Growing, Inhaling and Injecting Life", "Attitude. A Handbook for Your Head". Look at their website - www.attitude.org.nz
It is dad's responsibility to not keep sons in the dark about sex. This is a known cause of boys often getting involved in pornography. Trying to 'self educate' themselves.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS, again dad it for you to do some thinking and to put new things into practice in your relationship with your son - for HIS sake.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
"My six-year-old is wheeled back into pre-op wiping fresh tears from his eyes with hands noticeably shaking. I was not expecting to see him nearly so soon. In fact I didn't expect to see him again for several hours yet. To the best of my knowledge, getting your tonsils out takes substantially longer than three or four minutes. Something has definately gone wrong.
'We had a melt-down', my wife says with forced calm that tells it's own story. 'When they tried to put the mask on, he just....' she doesn't say 'lost it' and she doesn't have to. I know what panic looks like....
'I just can't do it, Daddy'. Fresh tears threaten to spill onto his cheek. I nod in what I think is a fatherly way, but I don't understand and I'm terrified that he will see the horrible hint of disappointment that I am working so hard to hide.
I have always been worried about communicating with my sons. I worry because I have seen enough fathers and sons who go through agonizing decades of not understanding one another, both sides carrying shared responsibility for the insurmountable walls that are built across great landscapes of grief and guilt. I worry because of the relationship I had with my own father for so many years....
I do not want my own son and I to go through that long, potholed road to un derstanding, and yet I feel too often the seeds being sown. He is a challenging boy, just as I am certainly a challenging father, intensely energetic who struggles like no one I've ever seen to fight the impulses that seem to drive him, and when these impulses overtake him, he seems abandoned in a drowning sea of his own making. Worse, I am unequipped to deal with it. I too often interpret it as willful stubbornness, even as I can see in his eyes that he is begging for someone to give him the tools to overcome his impulses.
How can I tell him that I don't have the tools to understand much less help? And so we both become monumentally frustrated for different reasons....
I am holding in my hand a replica of an anesthesia mask that is the current source of my son's deep fear. It is a soft and harmless looking thing, but I catch him eyeing it suspiciously.
I should be doing something. If I were the father I wanted to be, what would I do?.....
In front of me is a scared six-year-old who is putting on a brave face because I showed him where to keep the mask, and it's my job to know how to help him overcome the fear that threatens to pull him under......
The fact that I don't understand that fear in the first place is irrelevant, that I don't understand why he didn't just put the mask on like we'd talked about is just not helpful.
And if my wife and I can't do it, then they are going to hold him down and force him to breath deep until chemical sleep overtakes his panicked mind.
'Let's practice', I say.
The medium for my son and I to reset (regain good communication) is video games. When we reach those impassable waters where you can imagine your relationship being run aground in a tempest of wind and rock, we pull back to the familiar waters of Lego games and Rock Band. Imaginary adventures give us comfort, and when he settles into the crook of my arm as we sit side-by-side on the floor playing games that others might dismiss as meaningless, I realize that gaming has become important in my life like I had never expected.....
My boy is wearing his practice mask, with his eyes closed. 'OK,' I say. 'You've got your scuba gear on and your're jumping off the boat. How many dolphins do you see? Count them out loud.' He counts out twenty dolphins with enthusiasm, pressing the mask to his face. 'Can you keep up with them? Can you swim as fast as them?' He giggles a yes.
The doctors and nurses gather to wheel him back to the OR. They smile at one another to see my son wearing the mask and swimming with the whales and dolphins. As they begin to roll him out of the room I kiss the top of his head, and remind him that the mask is his scuba gear, and he gives me a thumbs up. 'Rock on!' I call out as they wheel him through the double doors, and the best sound I hear before the doors close is his laughter.
I suppose it all can be explained by the sedative, but I hold on to the idea that I was able to connect with my son when no one else could, and that gives me hope.
They tell me that he happily and calmly counted two dolphins before he was under."
From "FATHERS AND SONS' by Sean Sands
What does a son need from his dad? PART 1.
In the mind of some men, to father a son is extremely daunting. Possibly it reflects on the traditions of the past, where children continued to be born until the male heir was produced. Or the idea of the need of a son to continue the family line, carry the family name into future generations.
I heard it said by one father, that he was so glad he only had daughters, by which I sensed that he thought himself relieved of some responsibility he connected to fathering sons. Some fathers feel a huge responsibility in being a dad to a son which they don't feel in fathering daughters.
It is a unique relationship, father and son. It was written that it is the strongest relationship of all, more so than that of lovers. Whether this is true or not, a father was once a boy and so has some understanding or sense of the needs of a son.
1. CONNECTION ~ Sons need to be connected to their fathers - as the story in the quote shows.
As I mentioned in the previous post - WEEK 17 QUOTE 17, a crucial time for boys to have connection with his parents, is in his preschool years. Don Elium in "Raising Sons", says that boys of preschool years seek involvement and the attention of their dad. They commonly copy dad's mannerisms and behaviour, wear his shoes and clothes. Dad is the son's hero, the one he wants to please and receive acceptance and approval from.
As a son becomes a boy he continues to want to follow and emulate his dad.
If there is little or no connection between father and son through the preschool and school years, the results will be clear by the time the son is a teenager. By this stage, after a decade of disconnection, both the father and the son do not perceive the other's opinions or approach to life. In his development toward independence, a teenage son can view his father's expectations and views on life as irrelevant. It follows then that they can disagree on what life for a teenager should consist of. The 'division' between father and son, which is due to their lack of connection, can be short-lived or carry on for a decade or more, depending on whether they choose to deal with is of live with it. If they work at a better connection a good relationship can grow between them even as they express different opinions.
Click on this link to to watch a 8:30 minute promotion film clip called "11Truths about Fathers and Sons". It is advertising a 1 hour documentary titled "Fathers and Sons" which speaks from different view points of being in the father - son relationship.
Statistics show that boys experience more difficulties from absent or non-involved fathers, than girls. The figures for boys from this background are far higher in all areas of delinquency, than they are for girls. So regular, good healthy connection with dad is CRUCIAL for a son.
HOW can dads successfully get close to or CONNECT with their sons?
The best way seems to be through doing things together, dad being available and interested in spending time with his son. Fathers and sons who regularly spend time in this way, build bonds or connections that cause their sons to be more open to talk with dad, and more likely to confide in dad about their problems.
~*^* FACT*^*~ DAD AND SONS WHO HAVE REGULAR ACTIVITY TOGETHER, HAVE OPEN COMMUNICATION.
Regular times together is important, even small amounts of time will build a strong connection for the future.
There are organizations in America specifically set up to help dad and sons to connect through challenging physical occupations - Father and Son Activity groups. They offer part day weekly activities and weekend-long ones. These organizations put boys along side their dads - a team, a couple.
~*^* FACT*^*~ SONS WANT AND NEED TO BE ALONG SIDE DAD.
The best way to do this is in the normal, everyday things of life.
~cleaning your teeth together - look at the photo at the top again!
~ cleaning up after a meal
~ doing a BBQ
~taking a trailer load of rubbish to the rubbish dump
~driving to collect the takeaways
~going for petrol for the lawnmower
These are all short jobs or trips, perfect occasions to involve a son so he can observe dad living life and being with him.
Dads could also choose to take their son along with them while they exercise.
~at the gym
~lifting weights in the garage
~walking the dog on the beach
Don't choose to always go on your own, dad, you're missing opportunities to demonstrate and live life before and with your son.
You may think your son would be bored
- well keep the time short at first and gradually increase it.
You may think your son couldn't behave properly
- well do something about his behaviour, teach him how to behave - you ARE the dad.
You may think your son is not 'wired', skilled or interested in these types of things
- well you may be completely wrong. If it IS true that sons want to be/need to be/desire to be with their dads, then what you do together doesn't really matter.
Sons want to know that their dad wants to be with them, that they are a high priority in dad's life.
You must lead the way, dad.
~*^* FACT*^*~ SONS NEED TO KNOW WHAT DAD IS LIKE, TO MEASURE THEMSELVES BY AND GET AN IDEA OF WHAT'S POSSIBLY AHEAD FOR THEM IN LIFE.
To connect, sons need to know about dad.
~what is important to him?
~his favourite colour, food, music...
~what he does for a job, where he works, visit where he works, understand
why dad does this job
~know about dad's childhood, where he grew up, what games he played,
funny stories, when he was afraid or uncertain of something as a child
~ what's close to dad's heart?
~what does dad think of his son?
2. DISCIPLINE, AFFECTION, LOVE AND FORGIVENESS ~ Sons need dad to be involved in disciplining them,clearly affectionate, genuinely loving and quick to forgive.
Both mum and dad together need to decide what is acceptable and what is not, in a family - some people call it family rules. Once established they must be stuck to. This part is essential for boys. They need to see and know their parents will be consistent in keeping those rules.Boys need clarity about how the system works - Who is in charge? What the rules really mean? What the consequences are if they choose to not follow a rule? They will regularly be testing the system, which can become draining and exhausting, so help yourself by being clear and consistent from the start.
It is best that sons understand the way your family works from a young age, when they are eager to please dad. This is a most reachable time for boys to learn discipline and the job is far easier than in teenage years.
Dad needs to be involved in disciplining his son.
~*^* FACT*^*~ DAD MUST COMBINE HIS SON'S NEED FOR CONSISTENT DISCIPLINE WITH AFFECTION.
It's a balance, the two working together. As one writer said of the affection discipline combination, they "are vital, and help sons grow up to be men with good social skills." Another said, this combination is the determiner of a son's self esteem which then affects success in school and later in all of his life. He recommended "close, old-fashioned bear hugs".
[In a future post I hope to discuss "discipline" as a subject in itself as it is often misunderstood by people who fail to see it's importance]
Sons need dad to show physical affection. Play wrestling or rough and tumble are marvellous ways to do this. To a son, the game seems more important than the relationship, but although the son is unaware the fact is that through this play, dad is establishing a wonderful relationship with his son.
Play wrestling is an easy way for dad to teach his son several things - how to develop a relationship, how to actually fight without harm, how to control himself, how to love dad, a habit of having fun with dad, learning to loose, learning to win, learning his place in the big world with himself not being in the centre of it, laughter.... "Let him (the son) enjoy the long struggle - until the final giving in, 'calling it quits' and admitting he lost. Let your son win occasionally, but make sure you aren't a pushover."
Love is also important for sons, it gives them confidence and the feeling of belonging. Dad needs to tell his son how much he means to him - be specific, not "I think you are wonderful". They need to know particularly what you love about them. Give them a clear signal. It must be genuine as kids see through fake, put-on comments.
One dad I erad about remembered back to his father's written letters. They always ended with the same short phrases - a real sentiment of love -
"When I became a father of a son, I was so proud. I am so thankful that YOU were given to be MY son."
~*^* FACT*^*~ SONS NEED DADS TO CLEARLY CONVEY THEIR LOVE TO THEM.
Ernest Hemingway in "The Capital of the World", wrote about a Spanish dad and his teenage son who got into difficulties in their relationship. The son left and his dad was unable to trace him. Finally the father put an advertisement in the newspaper.
"Dear Paco, meet me in front of the Hotel Montana tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven, Papa"
The following day the father found 800 Pacos outside the Hotel Montana. They all wanted their father's forgiveness.
~*^* FACT*^*~ SONS NEED TO KNOW THEIR FATHER'S FORGIVENESS.
MORE TO COME IN PART 2, NEXT TIME.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS enjoy being with your son, dad, and start working on something with him that you know you have been putting off.