January 14, 2011

Why Men Don't Show Up For Boys

In the research for the Man-Making book, just one of the many reasons men offered as a barrier to involvement with young males was, "people will talk." There was a deep and, in today's world, common fear that if they showed any interest in young guys, they would instantly be labeled a predator. I can't imagine a more tragic situation where there are literally millions of boys who benefit by being part of a male tribe and being connected to good men, and yet those very men are staying away because of, "What people will say."

In the January 13th, 2011 Wall Street Journal, Lenore Skenazy wrote an article titled, Eek! A Male!. The article describes how deep the fear of men goes regarding their presence around children. The author says, ". . . these days, almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep. I call it "Worst-First" thinking: Gripped by pedophile panic, we jump to the very worst, even least likely, conclusion first. Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant."

As I write this I am living in Tucson, AZ for the winter. As everyone knows, the Tucson community has just experienced a horrific tragedy perpetrated by yet another very lost and disoriented young male shooter. It was horribly irrational, raw, and in so many ways, unforgivable. I think of it as another "World Trade Center" kind of wake up call that shattered more of our innocence and left us, as a country, feeling wounded and vulnerable. While the story about this young male is still being revealed, from where I sit I can't help but wonder what his life and world view might have been like if a good man had taken him under a protective and caring wing. What if good and caring men had stepped up when this shooter was giving off the early signals of being lost and alone? It's too late now for this young man, but there will be more.

I recommend this WSJ article to you. I invite you to consider the degree to which you carry these judgments and fears about men being involved with boys. If you're a man, look in to your heart to see if the fear of being judged negatively by others is alive in you and keeping you from making a difference in a young man's life. Maybe THE difference. Maybe a life-saving, life-giving difference. If you have been touched by what happened in Tucson, perhaps can stepping up for a boy in your community can be a part of your/our healing process?

What do you think? Use the comment section of this blog post or use this contact form to share your truth.

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1 comment:

  1. Tim W.11:23 AM

    Great article, Earl! I often think of this when I'm in high schools and speaking to early childhood development classes. They are usually filled with girls and none or only a few young men in them. Part of it is socialization: girls are trained for nurturing and made for mothering, boys aren't. But the fear of being labeled a "predator" and "child molester" is probably also a piece of why so few boys/men are involved with parenting and mentoring. Thanks!


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