However, many families do have steady father-figures, and yet there is still what the circles have labeled a crisis in men. Why would this be? I would posit family size as a reason. Observation is one part of learning; doing is the other - children from larger families have more opportunities to practice what they observe. The average family now only has 1 or 2 kids, reduced by nearly half since 1850. Only children often exclusively have their own well-being to be concerned about, and few responsibilities. Some may have a pet to take care of, which takes some of the focus away from themselves and is a way to teach children responsibility and compassion. Children from a larger family, however, have not only themselves to look after, but their siblings as well. It is in such a situation that the character of a man is made. A boy who protects his sister from spiders; comforts his brother, bandaging his wounds when a stunt goes awry; stands up against bullies who pick on his siblings; treats his sisters with respect as his father shows respect to his mother; gives his truck to his brother who lost his, as he has seen his father give to others who have lost; such a boy has the makings of a man. An only child does have the potential to act in such a manner, but the boy from a large family has more opportunity to do so. An only child may go to school, practice sharing and caring , but once they return home they don't have to concern themselves with anyone else. A child with siblings always has someone else depending upon them - home does not give relief from responsibility; the opportunity to develop character is always present. The decreasing number of large families in our society may very well be an overlooked contributing factor in the lack of good men.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Good Men...Gone? (Part 2)
What does a lack of father-figures have to do with a lack of good men? Much. There are two basic ways of learning: observation and doing. Most of what children learn is derived from watching their parents - how to walk; how to talk; snakes and spiders are scary; caterpillars are nice; blacks/whites/Muslims/Jews are evil; everyone is good and deserving of respect; etc. If there is no constant example of a good man for a little boy to observe and imitate, it would therefore follow that he would have a difficult time trying to be one, especially with so many definitions of manhood out there.