By Niko Capucion
For generations, people knew that boys were different from girls. We’re more unpredictable and, more often than not, we’re tougher to raise than daughters. We’re generally more assertive, audacious, daring, and excitable than girls. Psychologist John Rosemond calls us “little aggressive machines.”
So if boys are a separate breed from girls, why are boys asked to behave, sit still, and stay calm like girls? If you expect a fish to be able to climb a tree, it will forever think that it’s lacking and abnormal. Because of that, many men never grew out of being boys. And the world is hurting for it.
Social scientists warn of a crisis in boys that we’ve never seen before. Boys are six times more likely than girls to have learning disabilities, three times more likely to be registered as drug addicts, and four times more likely to be diagnosed as emotionally disturbed. They are at greater risk for mental health problems, addictions, and all forms of antisocial and criminal behavior.
This may be a symptom of a society that failed to support boys to survive the pressures of the world. They grew older, but never really became men. Their masculinity has been tested and they have been found wanting. They are angry, afraid, vulnerable to temptation, indecisive, unable to self-regulate their emotions, addicted, purposeless, lost, anxious, and depressed. What we have now is a world full of “unfinished men.” As unfinished men, we’re unable to pass on to our sons and daughters what they need to become whole and holy.
Even now, there are boys, young men, and adult men who are desperately in need of someone to show them what it means to be a man.
Fatherhood and the Journey to Manhood
Behavioral scientists have recently begun to understand how critical fathers are to the healthy development of children. While it is true that both boys and girls have an innate need for contact with their dads, boys, however, suffer most from absence or noninvolvement of fathers. There is what is called “The Father Need.” The National Center for Children in Poverty states that boys without fathers are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to go to jail, and four times more likely to need psychological and behavioral interventions than boys with fathers.
Two critical points where fathers should be most involved with their sons is during the onset of puberty, where they experience a surge of hormones; and second, between three to five years old, when the boy separates himself from his mother and sisters in an effort to form their own masculine identity. In both instances, the love, attention, guidance, and supervision of fathers are critical for the sons.
Natnat, my four-year-old son, went through a phase when he wanted to be with me to sing onstage, do groceries, help out in the house, and even dress the way I do! This is also about the time we started establishing our weekly father-son dates. But I’m also a spiritual father to the teens in our youth group, especially those who suffer from fatherlessness. If you’re an adult reading this, allow boys to drink from your fatherhood and let your example bring them to the Lord. If you’re a young person, find men in your life who are willing to journey with you toward manhood.
The Pursuit for Noble Masculinity
When I was a kid, my family, with four males, were drawn to a World War II series called Band of Brothers. Maybe it was the gore or the amazing fight sequences, but there was something about a group of men struggling together with a high probability of death and failure that stirred our masculine hearts and drew us closer to each other.
Nowadays, the phrase “band of brothers” evokes something deeply personal for many men. It now means the men whom a man cherishes and does life with, who are willing to invest in him in pursuit of righteous manhood.
The journey toward noble manhood is a path we shouldn’t take alone. We need brothers who can call us out and watch our backs, who can help us care for the things that God has entrusted to us: our wives, families, businesses, work, and ministries.
I urge you to find your band of brothers and elder men who will help you pursue healthy and noble masculinity, heal your wounded masculine soul, and help you protect what God has entrusted to you.
Let’s pray, act, and support each other that we may see a generation of healed men radically changing and restoring the landscape of families, the Church, and our world for the greater good, in Jesus’ name.
*This article was taken from FEAST e-magazine June 2023 issue. Available at feastbooks.ph