August 13, 2011 By
Tom Matlack wondered if manhood is still passed down generation to generation by “role models.” Ken Solin responds.The Question: It used to be that manhood was passed down generation to generation by “role models.” Does that still exist in some different form or was it always a crock?This is an important topic because it is precisely the absence of role models for men that adversely affects our culture. What is referred to as the rights of passage, fathers passing the lessons of manhood down to their sons, was alive and well until the Industrial Revolution in the 1850’s. When fathers left their fields and went to work in the factories in the cities for higher wages, boys were left at home to be raised by their mothers.While women gave this task their best and highest energies, they weren’t equipped to raise boys into men because they lacked the first-hand perspective. Only men had that perspective. When fathers took their sons into the fields with them, or apprenticed them in a trade, they taught them the lessons they would need as adult men. How to grow food, interact with other men, make a living, embrace integrity, the value of hard work, and fatherhood, were all lessons boys learned that enabled them to become the best men possible.It’s been over 150 years since boys stopped learning the important lessons of life at their fathers’ knees. The catastrophic results of those lost lessons abound. Street gangs in the Ghettoes, youthful violence and looting like on the streets of London, men who behave like adolescents with women, misogyny, lack of integrity, men who eschew responsibility for their children, pornography instead of intimacy, and other dysfunctions, are proof that men aren’t receiving the lessons they needed to learn as boys.Okay, so we know where we it all went wrong, even though mass production was inevitable and necessary to create a modern economic society. But how can men today make up for the lessons they weren’t likely taught by their own fathers? Equally important, how can men teach these lessons to their sons if they don’t really know those lessons?What’s most important is that fathers first take the time to understand their own behavior. What motivates them as men and how they handle themselves with other men are good places to begin doing the work to prepare for fathering sons. Men have to learn to express what’s in their hearts, not just in their heads, if they hope to reach and teach their sons. A constant litany of advice and rebuke, aren’t substitutes for lessons based on understanding emotions and being able to control them.Men also have to begin spending a considerable amount of time with their sons.
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