Ever since mum died, my brother and I have met up at our father’s home with our kids every school holidays. We travel from different parts of the country to meet in the lovely seaside township where dad has retired. With me, my thirteen-year-old, Sam (who has Down Syndrome), and my ten-year-old, Nat. My brother, Al, brings his eleven-year-old, Riki. We regularly reunite to spend quality time with grandpa.
I noticed during this holiday Sam literally followed his uncle around. And, it made me think about the need our young people have for positive role models. Young boys can be like homing missiles, sometimes, seeking those role models, to look up to and show them the way.
My boys are lucky. My brother and I are lucky. The amazing side benefit of gathering to visit grandpa is that it regularly brings three generations of the males in our family together. We have each other, and the older family members can guide the younger.
In the greater communities and society, however, the dearth of fathers in the home is a sad reality.
There are ‘men deserts’ in many parts of our towns and cities and we urgently need to wake up to what is going wrong. – Christian Guy
In 2013, in a research project on male role models, a post was published. More children growing up without male role models says new report, shared details of the report released by the Centre for Social Justice which claimed the increasing rate of lone parent families was creating ‘men deserts.’
The Centre’s director, Christian Guy, said, ‘For children growing up in some of the poorest parts of the country, men are rarely encountered in the home or in the classroom. This is an ignored form of deprivation that can have profoundly damaging consequences on social and mental development.’
What can we do?
*Appreciate the importance of positive male role models in our own families.
The happy side effect of gathering around Grandpa has been gathering the guys for a few days, every couple of months, to fish and golf and play cards. And, they’re all benefiting from time together.
*Initiate/participate in ideas like the brother/buddy systems.
Recently, a friend of mine mentioned he’s involved with an initiative run by his church where the older guys are paired with fatherless boys, to do activities and spend time with them. This sort of thing has such positive effects in our communities!
*Encourage and vocalise the idea that we need more male teachers for our upcoming boys.
In the “Conclusions and Reflections” of the report published in 2001, Social Learning Theory and the Influence of Male Role Models on African American Children, Rhonda Wells-Wilbon and Spencer Holland stated, ‘The role and contribution of males in the classroom cannot be ignored. At minimum, they make the classrooms more manageable so teachers can teach. At their highest level, they instil positive values, pride, and the desire to want to do the right thing even in absence of the role model.
‘While school is considered the place where children learn the skills to be productive participants in the workforce, reading, writing and math alone are not sufficient for preparing the next generation.’
Therefore, changes need to be put into place within the education system to encourage more young men to take up teacher training, to fill the current deficit.
The teacher, Erin Lees said, ‘If father is not there, the child looks to fill up with other male role models.’
According to Wells-Wilbon and Holland, ‘Mentoring programs and other volunteer programs that bring men into the classroom, and that are well structured for consistency and modelling positive behaviour can be a valuable resource.
‘In this study, there seems to be a relationship between structuring a program that focuses on values and important life skills as well as tutoring and academic support. Children like adults learn and function best when they have a strong foundation of values and feel valued as important people.
Modelling and teaching important life skills is the foundation for building academic achievers.’
With such positive thinking, there is hope for the future.
On the last day of our holiday, we took our late afternoon walk with Grandpa. At the end of the trail, I asked my thirteen-year-old Sam to bunch up with Uncle and Grandpa for a photo. Any doubts lingering as to the value of male mentors in a boy’s life can be answered right there.
Have you any stories to share about effective mentorship?
Keep on Creating!
Yvette K. Carol
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. ~ E. B. White
Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: email@example.com