"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.