When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11.
“Men are very childish these days. My dear, when you get married and have two kids, brace yourself for it will be like you are managing a home with three kids.”
This is a statement I once heard at a friend’s bridal shower. It came from a lady we considered a mother, so it must be true. But something in me refused to accept it. There is a deeper element to it as it speaks volumes about the boy-child crisis we are facing.
Of course, there are those weird, age 30-plus guys who still live with their parents or those that depend on friends and sugar mummies to support them. Simply, bad and childish behaviour, but while it is true that there are not many ‘mature men’ around these days, we need to ask ourselves why.
For so long, we have focused too much energy on the girl child, leaving the boy child on the back burner. And now that the repercussions are presenting themselves, we are pointing fingers and naming names even before looking at our own individual shortcomings and contributions to the crisis.
I consider it a crisis for these three reasons; for years, the numbers of proper male role models have continued to diminish and a rise in absent father figures has been witnessed, thus we are experiencing the ripple effects. Also, when young boys grow up unsure of who they are and their role in society, we have failed and there is bound to be a great problem. Lastly, women make the issue worse by filling in the roles men should play and intentionally or unintentionally raising boys the way they were brought up as girls.
We urgently need to start addressing this issue to set the stone rolling for the benefit of our future generations because a change, in this case, will not happen overnight.
Primarily, let us tone down on all this hullabaloo of only empowering the girl child. A society is made up of both men and women. Like the well-oiled cogs of a wheel, each gender needs to understand its strengths and weaknesses and strive to play their complementary roles towards achieving a balanced and progressive society.
Parents, guardians and teachers also need to understand that boys should be raised very differently from girls. For instance, when young girls are sad, hurt or annoyed, they are allowed to express their emotions. They can cry out loud, shed buckets of tears, lash out using a thousand words per second and call their girlfriends just to rant and rave. Girls are wired to talk it out, boys, however, are designed to hold things in so warning them against openly showing emotion, makes things worse. They should be taught how to express themselves in a safe zone from time to time to avoid a pile-up of stress, related conditions and violent outbursts.
The man is naturally endowed to be a priest, protector and provider and thus should be nurtured on how to effectively fit into these roles. Therefore, strategically preparing these young men to fit into these roles would be the best way to go.
The life lessons these boys will pick are from observation, interaction and training, thus it is important to ensure there is always an impressionable father figure or male role model in the child’s life, a person who will patiently listen to him, with whom he can comfortably talk and get guidance from. Peers and school training also greatly shape the way a young man thinks and behaves, thus always keeping a keen eye on these parties.
Men may be confused and are crying out for their traditional role, and in effect, they are becoming their own worst enemies as they waste time and energy taunting each other and fail in mentoring the younger boys, thus women are forced to try and fit into their roles. Sadly, perhaps this poor number of ‘good men’ is why women easily fall prey to fake pastors and young boys are deceived by child predators.
Therefore more sensitization needs to be done for everyone to understand that there are very many differences between men and women, but we are all human and meant to complement one another.
The 21st century is a time when gender barriers are being erased. It is no longer about gender but capabilities. We are seeing significant changes in the way things happen, for instance, more women are fitting into positions that were traditionally a preserve of the men such as driving trucks and constructing buildings, and more men are also settling down to do what has been considered female duties like caring for children and the home. Some women are aggressive enough to make the first move in relationships, while some men prefer the timid lady who lets the man take the lead.
All in all, the basics still remain that a man is a man and a woman is a woman, thus each should strive to understand oneself and the other, compromise to achieve harmony, and respect and support one another just the way each is wired.
While these are the fundamental changes today’s young boys need to understand and be guided into, each must realize on their own that at a certain stage in life, childishness must be abandoned so as to man up as expected and keep the cycle flowing.
Mwende Maritim is a budding freelance writer based in Nairobi, Kenya. She has always had a passion for well written content but began writing professionally in 2014. Her writing mainly covers lifestyle issues and anything to inspire people especially the teenagers she mentors.