I wrote about the challenge of “parenting boys today;” here’s some insight into the challenges we face as counselors you may find helpful as well.
I Don’t Need Counseling!
The first most obvious hurdle to overcome is “in general” males aren’t comfortable with counseling! That goes for the young adolescent boy all the way to the adult male. Males tend to keep emotions and feelings in; that harkens back to the old “man up” theory. The reality is it’s best to process emotions and feelings in order to live a healthy life.
I’m going to focus on the male adolescent population here. Today there are unlimited moving parts when working with boys. There are and continue to be a multitude of variables they are working through. That means as counselors, we must be prepared, ready and “in tune” with these young men. This particular population is “in trouble” and require ALL HANDS ON DECK.
And Dad…it starts with you!
Remember “Cat’s in the Cradle?” The lyrics tell a very important story in the breakdown of the father-son relationship.
My son turned ten just the other day,
He said “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw?” I said
“Not today, I got a lot to do” he said, “That’s okay”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
He said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”
Harry Chapin wrote this in 1974 when a boy still wanted to be with and like his dad. Fast forward to today; boy’s aren’t waiting for Dad to show up, they don’t want to be like their dad. They’re perfectly fine being mentored by a video game. Is that what we want?
He came from college just the other day
So much like a man, I just had to say
“Son I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head, and said with a smile
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See ya later, can I have them please?”
In this case when Dad finally had or made time it was too late. The son had built a wall to protect himself from being hurt by his dad. When a boy feels rejected by dad for whatever reason, it’s a wound, and he’ll carry that wound the rest of his life. Why? Because the reality is, he does need his dad.
Fix It Now
Sadly, the son will grow up to raise his kids the same way; it’s all he knows how to do.
As a licensed professional counselor, I’m working hard every day to help father and son repair their relationship. I have fathers who don’t want to spend time with their son; and I have sons who don’t want time with dad. Too many relationships are broken; too many times they don’t have to be.
The fix is simple. It’s TIME! Time together doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan, it’s being present and engaged with each other. There’s magic in time spent together, don’t overlook it or take it for granted. Time is a priceless gift to give your child.