Three things happened this week that made we want to write on this subject.
Thing number one: I was walking toward a local convenience store to get my first of several doses of caffeine, when I saw a car with the hood up. Inside sat a teenage boy in the passenger seat with one leg on the dash board. I held the door open as a woman exited the store trying to juggle two quarts of oil, an extra large hot dog, jumbo drink, and a bag of chips. The boys leaned out the window and yelled, “Duh mom, hurry”.
Thing number two: I read an article this past Friday by William J. Bennett, titled “Have We Forgotten How to Raise Boys Into Men?
Thing number three: I have four boys. All Lacrosse players. This past Saturday my wife and I had to attend three different games at the same time (not an easy task). I went to my youngest’s game, and she went to the “middlest’s” games. The oldest had a “parent free” game.
I dropped my youngest off and went to park the car, as I was walking toward the field I saw a boy, probably around 11 years old, and his mother. The boy was wearing his Lacrosse uniform, and holding a leash of a little “hors d’oeuvres” dog. In my mind, there are two kinds of little dogs: “hors d’oeuvres dogs” because they are so small they would be easily gobbled up by a real dog, and “slipper dogs”, they are just the right size, that if you kicked them hard enough, in the right place, they would become a slipper (to my embarrassment we went from a Rottweiler to a slipper dog. But she’s a good little girl, who loves her daddy. Yes she does. Yes, yes, yes she’s a goooooood dog).
I’m sure you’re asking, what bothered me about “hors d’oeuvres dog” boy? As he was walking with this prancing, dainty dog, his mother was carrying his big Lacrosse bag, his stick, a bag with the camping chair she sat in to watch his game, and a blanket she used. HIS MOTHER WAS CARRYING THE BAGS. Here was a tough Lacrosse player treating his mother like a pack mule. And she was allowing it. If any of my kids treated their mom like that, I would STILL be raining blows upon them.
In Mr. Bennett’s article he explains that for the first time in history, women are “better educated, more ambitious, and arguably more successful than men.” He then gave statistics to back up his claim, “In 1970, men earned 60% of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50%, by 2006 it was 43%. Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women’s earnings grew 44% from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6% growth for men. In 1950, five percent of men at the prime working age were unemployed. Today twenty percent are not working, the highest ever recorded”. And, he noted the domination of women in thirteen of the top fifteen job categories expected to grow most in the coming decade.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for celebrating the ascension of women. I’m all about “girl power”. What has me worried is the proverbial back seat our young men are taking.
Why is this happening?
Well, some of the reasons are obvious. Bennett notes: “The out of wedlock birthrate is 40% in the United States. In 1960 11% of children lived apart from here fathers, in 2010 it was 27%.” Many fathers are completely MIA (missing in action). Young men fill the void of missing fathers with video games, the internet, television or music.
Some of the other reasons are less obvious. For example, Hollywood isn’t helping men with their glorification of the “I refuse to grow up” characters, who treat women as toys and discard them when things get tough, showcasing the machismo of street gangs that can easily be mistaken for courage, elevating the music artist to the status of a cultural icon, and their positive portrayals of the flamboyancy of gay characters that challenge traditional masculinity.
“Through all these different and conflicting signals, our boys must decipher what it means to be a man, and for many of them it is harder to figure out.”
Mr. Bennett concludes: “We need to fight back against this culture and send our boys and young men a clear and achievable message of what it means to be a man. The founding virtues – industriousness, marriage, and religion, are still the basis for male empowerment and achievement. It may be time to say to a number of our young men, ‘Get off the video games five hours a day, pull yourself together, get a challenging job, and get married.’ It’s time to bring back men.”
I would add, if you’re sick of people looking down on you, GROW UP!!!
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