The Weekly Dream: Crisis in Manhood
Father’s Day has just passed and hopefully you took the time to appreciate the father in your life, whomever it may be. As I have written before, Father’s Day is an interesting holiday to me. I am not a father, but I think the relationship between a father and a child is a unique one and it tends to be a more complicated one than the mother and child dynamic.
As I was driving around the city last week, enjoying the excellent weather, for the first time I noticed that there were women and children everywhere, but you rarely saw the fathers or men. I am not talking about young men, but grown men. And I not only asked where are all the fathers, but where are all the men period?
The absence of men is not something unique to the inner-city, but in almost every institution the women outnumber the men-church, higher education, families, professional organizations, etc. In my own humble opinion, I believe that there is a crisis in manhood in America. Men have lost their identity to the point where all we have left is a caricature of what a man is.
In our own time, we went from Metrosexuals being in vogue to the throwback strong silent, manly man being what is popular now. What is a real man? What is the purpose of males in society? These questions are deeply important because if you do not know what a real man is and what a man’s purpose is, then the stage is set for chaos. But more importantly, how can you be a real father if you do not know how to be a real man?
I Know It When I See It
This is just my opinion, but to me, a man is a person who is responsible. As long as man has been on the earth, males have been charged with various responsibilities. God told Adam to name the animals, tend to the garden and exercise dominion over his environment. He also told him not to touch that tree. In the modern context, that means he is accountable and about his business. He is a good steward. Men are also disciplined. This means that they have self-control. This also means that he walks in character and integrity so that he is trustworthy. How can you be trusted to handle responsibilities if you cannot even control yourself?
Because a man is disciplined, he can be depended on to be the standard-bearer. This means he manages change and insures the quality of anything he is a part of. This demands that he be decisive and have some sense of direction/vision. And in order to meet all of the demands of this life, he must be strong and courageous. This means he is confident and has backbone. When something is not right, he is going to speak up. He will protect what is his and also be assertive. But he also will sacrifice for the greater good. A man is also a servant to those who depend on him. The strength aspect is normally emphasized more than the others, but all are important. When all these attributes are in play, the male is a wondrous thing.
From Man to Father
Too often, fatherhood forces boys to become men. The new Dad finds a whole new list of responsibilities added to his resume. First, a father provides. In the most basic sense, economically. However, a father is the source because a lot is drawn from him. A lot of times, it falls to the father to provide guidance/wisdom about how the world works while simultaneously providing protection to his offspring and his significant other. The father also imparts discipline to the child. You see it in little babies, they respond differently to male energy than to female energy.
But I think the most important thing a father gives his child is a sense of identity. By being someone’s son or daughter, you know who you are and consequently what is expected of you. There are parameters associated with having the Father’s name. A father sets the culture for the family structure by being an example. A father is supposed to be a reflection of the character of our Heavenly Father. People who normally have a hard time with their spiritual life often times do not have the most functional relationship with their earthly fathers.
Growing up, I received favor and special treatment because of who my father was. I knew how I was supposed to act and handle certain situations as a man by watching my father, grandfather and uncles. Now, too many of our children do not have that influence. And too many young men become fathers without fully growing and embracing their manhood. Also, a lot of young women do not know how to interact with a man or how his purpose interacts with her purpose. And the result is what we have now, a lot of chaos. You cannot give what you do not have.
As you can probably tell, this is an issue that is definitely on my mind. Nowadays, there is an attack on everything that celebrates masculinity and manhood. Any mention of gender roles and you are labeled as sexist. Men have been shackled from fulfilling their purpose. We have been too busy living up to someone else’s idea of who we should be instead of defining it for ourselves. Manhood is a fluid concept, it being a social construction and all, but there are some constants, regardless of what is in fashion in society at the time.
Let’s face it, being a man is a thankless job, but the world needs real men to step up. Children need their fathers to set the parameters and impart identity. Men who are not afraid to live out their principles.
The funny thing is, when a man is comfortable with himself and his role, he is not intimidated by “strong” women. What we fail to understand is that there is a hard side and a soft side to strength. Strength can be manifested in a variety of ways. Strong women never intimidated me, because I knew I was not going to let anyone run over me. No one has to let me be a man, because that is what I am. It is more an issue of it that status is recognized and respected. Just like I would recognize and respect a woman. If the individual does not want to recognize my purpose and program, then it is not meant to be. But I digress.
So the question becomes, how do we reclaim our identity? What does it mean to be a real man to you? What does it take to be a real father?
Also, if any wonderful woman would like to write the corollary to this (i.e. the purpose of woman) then we can eventually bring it together and see how we can harmonize our purposes together. I know Dr. Miles Monroe has written two books on this subject for starters, but I would be interested in seeing what the Superspade community has to say about these complex topics.
Til’ then, I am celebrating my manhood.
Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas