Every good boy deserves men

Somewhere around teenage, almost all boys switch from "My Dad can beat your Dad" to "My Dad is an idiot" (that is, if their father is still around at that point). Disillusioned when they discover he is not in fact superhuman, they reject their father, and especially his advice. (Actually I know a certain eight-year-old boy who doesn't give much credence to his father's advice already). This is crunch time in the maturing of a boy: there MUST be alternate males for him to learn from and use as role models.

If there are not older males around, then he turns to his peers for his value set, role models, advice and education. The result is Lord of the Flies. It can spiral down into Columbine or heroin, Goths or gang warfare, music as a cult or nihilism.

This is a simple explanation for a wide range of social woes. In the Western world it explains delinquency. Nuclear and mobile families (no grandfathers, uncles and older cousins around), rising school-leaver ages, and the demise of Scouting, sport and compulsory military training, mean that boys are left to their own devices. So they get their frame of reference from each other.

Sometimes they also get it from the wrong adults who step into the void: advertisers, movie-makers, game designers, rock stars, perverts. In the Islamic world, psychopathic extremists poison vulnerable young minds into terrorism under the guise of fundamentalist religious teaching. All over the world, criminal gangs recruit drifting boys.

It is not my idea. I am a follower of the ideas of Steve Biddulph, a New Zealander who nailed the problem of "Raising Boys". He would probably not support many of my political positions - I don't know because he is in no way associated with this site. I just think the man has solved one of the primary issues of modern society and his teachings do not get half the attention they deserve.

Read "Raising Boys", Jack. It is in the bookshelf. Your Mum woke to find me sitting in bed at 2am, crying as I read this book. It answered a lot of questions for me about my youth and may save you from generating your own. While you are at it, read Manhood too.

And for heaven's sake find yourself a few good men to hang out with. Whatever the context (fishing, tramping, racing, model-making, music...) make sure they're guys who have their own act reasonably together OK? If they came up through a male-less adolescence they may not be much better than your own mates. So if they're weird loners, or out of their heads, riddled with body piercings, into violence, can't sustain a relationship with a woman... ask yourself if these are role models that will get you where you want to be.

It is harder to find men in the modern world. Many are afraid to let you near because of the pedophilia-hysteria consuming Westerners right now. (Which perversely means that you need to watch those who do a bit more as they are now statistically a bit more likely to want to know you for the wrong reasons. The world is a screwy place innit?: the media frenzy about this problem actually increases the probability of it by driving good men away). But it can be done:

  • St Johns trains you in first aid, you get to hang around ambulances and see some blood and gore, you get right up by the action at sports events, some of those events are full of girls, you stand around in a uniform, and you do some good in the world. Unbeatable combination.
  • Scouting is uncool but Rovers have a good time
  • Tramping clubs and ski clubs will get you up into our beloved Southern Alps. Keep involved in the Craigieburn club
  • You can be an airforce, navy or army cadet when you are older.
  • Of course sport provides a great avenue. Sporting clubs and alcohol abuse tend to go hand in hand so try not to learn alcoholism eh?
  • Hobbies are good too. My hobby - model railways - is a bit too self-absorbed to be healthy, but it will work. Then there is slot-cars, model aircraft and ships... .
  • I'm not so keen on music (or art) as a channel to good men. Music and drugs tend to go together like sport and alcohol. And I believe people driven to self-expression often do so because of some inner hurt, obsession or compulsion: in short they can be screwy. But hey! if you share that same drive and you can keep yourself straight then go for it I guess.

And they aren't on the Web dude. I mean real people who can see your eyes and you theirs, and give you a cuff or a hug.

RobI must say that you are

RobI must say that you are right on the mark. I am in agreement with you on the fact that real men are hard to find. I alwaysed seeked out older men when I was a teenager cause thay had beter stories and very good advice. Into my mid 20's I still had older friends. Guys ar the pub I would have a ber with and shot the shit so to say. Now I have 3 boys of my own and find myself thinking of what kind of things are out there to make boys into men. It seems like today there has been a real lack of sources for boys to have good examples of men. I was wondering when the decline of pride in ones country nad community started so I looked at picutres of barber shops from 1900 til now. At one time there was a uniform and the gentlemen who worked the shop were all groomed and clean. It seems that in the mid 60's it started to change and by the 70's all but gone replaced with a seedy kind of feel. Hospitals is another american istetutiom I looked at and while medical care has improved the service and proffesionalism has declined. When I was a child I remeber seeing a nurse at the post office in her uniform and I thought she was beautiful. I have not seen anyone in a uniform since. The police used to walk beats and be friendly when I was a kid now it seems that they forgot the serve in protect and serve. While walking my 2 year old to his doctor for shots I took a good look ato the town I live in. I notice how run down it is on a fundimetal level. THe roads are all cracked and potted. the sidewalks are showing their age and crumbling. As I passed a manhole cover I noticed the date on it...1950...and the work of that iron circle was organte and stylish. Clearly the smith who made it took great pride in his work.
Taking this all in I am very concerned for the future of our once great country. I have garnered great wisom from your blog here for your son. My father and mother divorced when I was at that crucial age of 14. Now in adulthood I find that there were some important things I missed during that time. Now I find that I am raising the future and what fine hopes I have for them. Althouth I have had a wrench thrown into the mix. My wife and i found out last month that they both have autism. well thank you for your time and attention

Thankyou for your thoughtful

Thankyou for your thoughtful comments.

I do think much has been lost in the second half of the twentieth century. I wrote a bit about it here http://www.bothol.org/node/12

I highly recommend the Steve biddulph book Raising Boys (see the website). I found the things I missed in that book (my Dad was around but very remote due to stuff HE went through at that age). I will be following its concepts as I raise jack.

Autism is one more hurdle - my best wishes dealing with that.

I love your point about "what kind of things are out there to make boys into men". I may write about that. Biddulph talks about the need to get boys out into the wilderness with men. Jack and I go to the mountains every year.

Your blog

Another reason this blog may be useful is the fact that your son may not have the time or the attitude or the patience to listen to you. When he does, it may be too late.

I have much to share with my 21-yr old son. But he is too busy with his college. When he is not, he wants to relax because, he says, he is too tired, and does not have time for my lectures. I am rather worried that, regardless of my age, he simply lacks the motivation to listen to me. I must be so boring.

But I want to talk to him about the nitty-gritty of the house we live in, my bank accounts, and other such mundane things.

But he is too busy. And I am too boring to listen to.

might - MIGHT - even value your opinion one day

I don't want to turn this blog into an advice column, but I am a compulsive (and professional) advice-giver, so i'd say at 21 he's gotta make his own way. Your consolations are that if you ease up on him he'll eventually come back as a friend/peer/equal, and might - MIGHT - even value your opinion one day. I was in my 30s before i started asking my Dad what he thought.

my father died when i was

my father died when i was 14.. and now i became into some kind of anti-social person hehe..
and... dont know what the hell im doing here :|

having other grown men around

Steve Biddulph's book says the dad is pretty important up until that age but not so much from then on. Even boys with Dad around tend to reject him. It is all about having other grown men around to tell you three things (my 3 things, not Biddulph's - he's far more subtle and thoughtful). I didn't have them around and it sounds like you didn't either?

if we don't, then we get our value set from our friends and peers, and that can be a pretty screwy value set. Took me decades to straighten it out again. I'm nearly there :-D

that's not to make your loss any less, believe me. I feel for you: I'm terrified i'll go when Jack still needs me.