Dads Help Boys Become Men

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Summertime is kid time.

In my case, growing up it was more specifically “being a boy time.”

My dad was a logger.

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So, from my first summer after the first grade until the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, my younger brother and I went to the woods with my dad.

Instead of lazy days spent at the pool or on the playground or sitting in front of a television set, when school let out for the summer we entered a different classroom that was all male.

That’s where we learned how to work, but more importantly, that’s where we learned how to be a man.

Before you conjure up visions of two little boys handling a chain saw or driving a log truck, let me set the record straight…we had a lot of fun.

We had to work, but we were also getting to be boys in an environment that gave full flight to everything that it means to be a boy.

We explored, we climbed, we played in creeks-we even dammed one up, and we got to shift gears in the truck.

So while we were learning something about hard work and manhood, we got to be boys, too, in a way that many boys are missing out on today.

And that is what worries me about boys growing up in our current culture.

Over the years it seems that an increasing number of guys seem not to have learned how to transition from boyhood to manhood.

It seems that a number of males in America today are growing up in an environment that stifles boyhood.

Part of the problem facing boys is that the education system is an environment that by design is tough on boys.

It might be overly harsh to say that the American education system is anti-boy, then again, it might not be.

The progressive education environment of today is predominantly designed for girls and their learning styles.

According to psychologist Michael Thompson, the modern classroom is a hostile environment for many, if not most boys because it suppresses their natural urges and instincts.

He said, “Boys feel like school is a game rigged against them.

The things at which they excel-gross motor skills, visual and spatial skills, their exuberance-do not find as good a reception in school.”

In other words, boys are captives in an educational environment that suppresses their natural tendencies to run, jump, climb, wrestle or throw something.

Years ago recess provided an outlet for boys to do these things, but over the years the amount of time allocated for recess has dramatically decreased and some are calling for the complete elimination of it.

But despite its faults, the education system is not to blame for what is missing in many boys today.

The real culprit is the breakdown of the family and the absence of fathers in the lives of their sons.

Fathers are absent like never before-not just absent in the sense of not being physically present in the home, but absent as well in the sense that many dads are uninvolved in their sons’ lives.

The number of boys growing up in homes without their father has skyrocketed.

The simultaneous explosion of divorce and out-of-wedlock births has left millions of boys without a man in their lives.

Obviously, many boys will have male figures in their lives such as teachers, coaches and other family members.

But every boy needs a significant man and there is no more significant a man in a boy’s life than his dad.

This is not to imply in the least that dads don’t need to be involved in the lives of their daughters.

They certainly do. But despite what the feminists try to brainwash us into believing, the father-daughter relationship is a dynamic that is very different than the one with sons.

It is tough being a boy in this day and age.

Boys are desperate for more time with their dads and their dads need more time with their boys-more time to wrestle and rough-house, to play ball or build or fix something, to fish and hunt, to listen to corny jokes and do all the things that boys want to do with their dads.

And they need more time with their dads to learn the characteristics of a good man-dependability, perseverance, integrity, courage, compassion, faith and self-control.

Summer is a good time for boys to be boys and their dads to be the men they need them to be.

So for you dads that read this, take it as an encouragement to take another day off and give it to your sons.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to do the same for your daughters too.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.