Men speak openly with each other about their relationship with their fathers, good or bad and how it affected them. Men who had a missing, toxic or inadequate relationship openly express grief about the loss. They speak unbidden or with the slightest suggestion. This includes big, burly, gruff, Hell’s Angels types.
We appear to have an archetypal expectation of having a mother and a father who will love us unconditionally and mentor us in living life. When this does not happen or happens imperfectly, we are instinctively offended and experience existential trauma.
Boys AND girls need fathers! Males instinctively need and respond to hierarchical organisations. Males need mentoring and feedback from other males. They need to hear “Good job”, “You can do it”, “I am proud of you, son”.
A son can be abandoned by a father literally, not being there at all, by dying, or by ignoring the son. If the father criticises and ridicules the son, it is crippling, shames and angers the son.
The current commentary that “Men are not needed” is harmful to society and to boys, men. Single parent, mother led families NEED to find male mentoring for their sons! The child participating in sports is one way. For a boy who is intellectually gifted, male tutors in his areas of strength.
Any boy or man who has been abandoned by his father needs to be allowed opportunity to openly express his grief and feelings of loss and anger about the experience. He will naturally repress the feelings, however the loss will underlie EVERYTHING in his life and can result in passive/aggressive anger, anxiety, acting out and an inordinate need to “prove himself”.
One Saturday morning I was in the local auto parts store, a very male place. A father was there with his 12 year old son. With his hand on the son’s shoulder he introduced the son to the counterman saying “I am very proud of him”. The smile of pure existential joy and happiness on the boy’s face was unforgettable.
This is what boys and men need. Depriving them of it is a fundamental sin.