Raising boys to be men
BY RORY T. EDWARDS
As the holiday season is now in full swing, I can’t help but observe the swing of emotions, communication and all the missing pieces to the family unit. I have recognized mine and that of those all around me.
On the other hand, there can be deep unhappiness, at least for those of us who have lived long enough to have lost or have been separated from treasured family and friends. Their absence during a time when their vibrant presence was depended upon can be overpowering. Every holiday family tradition or conversation about missing them can evoke a memory, which further amplifies the absenteeism.
As the years go by and we advance in age, we think of ourselves as individuals in all aspects of life — careers, education, socioeconomics or relationships. This is true for most, only until our children are born. From then on, independence should take a back seat and parenthood becomes our primary role. In many households in America, this is not happening.
Many of the things I have learned about parenting, from my own parents and other family members, have come by way of example — and those lessons have been truly invaluable. My children make me who I am. Although no words can ever express how much they mean to me, I hope to show my gratitude by passing these values on to my children, or any child who has been entrusted to be in my guidance — by helping them become responsible, compassionate adults who contribute to the world around them.
Parents spend their entire lives caring for, nurturing, coaching and guiding us — and yes, sometimes even reprimanding us. From the moment we are born, they are eternally tied to us, in a way no other relationship will ever be formed. Most cannot even begin the interpretation of how much our parents impact our lives. From the choices we make, relationships we explore, to the values we have, but mainly how we parent. They trul form the foundation of our future.
The traditional family structure in America is considered a support system involving two married individuals providing care and stability for their biological offspring. However, this two-parent family unit has become less frequent, and alternative family arrangements have become more common. Over time, the traditional structure has had to modify its definition to very influential changes — including the increased number of single parent homes, teenage pregnancy, divorce, parental incarceration, same-sex relationships and unwed mothers. These variations have generated new versions of the American family.
Mothers, in many households, are the breadwinner, the disciplinarian, the role model, and chief guardian of their children’s health, education, approval and admiration. Like most mothers do, they make a superhuman attempt to fulfill and excel at all these roles and more.
There’s one role, however, that mothers cannot fill: that of the Father. Research shows that boys benefit from having contact with a father — even one who lives outside the home. Boys raised with a father somewhere in the picture often do better academically, financially, and socially than their fatherless peers.
The emotional component of male influence on our sons is of immeasurable importance. The fact is that boys strive for connection, correction and comprehension, and at the same time, long for independence, which creates an emotional divide between deterioration or evolving. The struggle between his longing for connection and his strive for autonomy manifests itself differently as a boy matures. What makes matters worse is that a multitude of philosophies impose obstinate gender stereotypes upon boys’ consciousness, based on what it means to be a man.
There is a myriad of reasons why an increasing number of women find themselves the head of a one-parent home. Many are not reminded of the daily sacrifices they make until the holidays circle back around. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: Boys need to be developed into men.”
Join the Rory T. Edwards Group at our 2017 Raising H.O.P.E. Conference and Workshop Series, a movement to assist mothers in helping to develop their sons into men. Nine regional conferences will be held in the following cities: Las Vegas, NV; Seattle, WA; Houston, TX; Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; New Haven, CT; Boston, MA. A culminating national conference will be held in Las Vegas, NV. For more information, visit www.rorytedwards.com.