While driving recently and listening to the ABC, the subject of bullying came up. Callers aired their stories and schoolteachers and psychologists were consulted on this ever-increasing problem. As boys seemed to be the main offenders, I was pleased when a caller rang to tell of a program called 'Pathways to Manhood'. I immediately thought of Steve Biddulph's book 'Manhood' and another book entitled 'Men are from Mars- Women are from Venus'. I also thought back to a TV program that was about older women taking on younger men as 'toy boys'. One of the women said that they were like handbags; "and we know how a good or bad accessory can make or break an image". I believe that many of our young men are confused about who they are and their roles and pathways to manhood. Even in primary school, half of our boys don't have a male role model in the family, either through separation and divorce or through fathers absenting themselves through work etc. Biddulph says that it is bad enough not to have sufficient guidance through the difficult and formative years, but we expect too much from boys if they don't have any father figure. If adequate fathering can't be found, maybe we should look for guidance from other cultures that understand the need for a child to be brought up by the whole community. Take our own indigenous people. They are relational rather than possessional. They share widely and they have many 'aunties' and 'uncles' in the extended family who are not even blood related. I have seen too many young people lately whose lives lack boundaries and they have an anger level that is out of control. What can we do? Well the good news is that it's never too late to work on a problem, but it's better to work well before the problems begin. If you are a father, think long and hard about the consequences of being absent from your son right from birth. Plan to 'be there' through his boyhood with fishing trips etc and think of what you might do to keep the connection going with him as a teenager. No boundaries, no direction, poor guides to manhood and a perceived hopeless future are the main ingredients that are feeding our ever-mounting suicide statistics. I encountered three attempts myself in the last two weeks. I'm sure it's not by accident that we see a wonderful model at work in Christianity. A 'Father' God in relationship with His 'Son' Jesus.
If you need help ring Valley Care Counselling Service on 0409 517273.