Men must salvage the boy child and young men
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Men must salvage the boy child and young men

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Men, particularly young men, are experiencing difficulties in today's society. Indications of these difficulties can be found in the predominance of males in marginalized groups, such as the homeless, ...

Men, particularly young men, are experiencing difficulties in today's society. Indications of these difficulties can be found in the predominance of males in marginalized groups, such as the homeless, in the greater number of behavioural problems experienced by young men and boys.
Where are the men who can mentor and bring hope and a future to these young men?

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Men must salvage the boy child and young men Men must salvage the boy child and young men Document Transcript

  • Men Must Salvage the Boy Child and Young Men Proverbs 22:6 “Point your kids in the right direction-- when they're old they won't be lost”.(MSG) This week I have decided to take time and mentor some two young men who discussed about their lives with me and the problems they have faced in today’s society. I was so touched by their grief in life and particularly the absence of fathers in their lives. Apparently even the mothers gave up on them. Men, particularly young men, are experiencing difficulties in today's society. Indications of these difficulties can be found in the predominance of males in marginalized groups, such as the homeless, in the greater number of behavioural problems experienced by young men and boys. Where are the men who can mentor and bring hope and a future to these young men? The Family Family changes, including an increase in single female parenting, have challenged traditional values around marital and sexual relationships but people have, in general, adjusted to these developments and some men have welcomed the opportunity to refocus on fatherhood and home issues. Yet family change may have benefited fathers within rather then fathers outside the home. Marriage may now be less available to some young men for economic reasons and because of the greater likelihood that a woman will set up home, with her child, on her own. The absence of a father may result in negative social and psychological outcomes for males but this is dependent on his access to alternative sources of affirmation and models of behaviour, the parenting ability of the remaining adult and economic resources. It is also dependent on the child’s relationship with the out-of-home father. Poverty Poverty and disadvantage has given rise to marginalization for men in a number of ways. Poor school outcomes are closely linked to economic vulnerability in the marketplace and this factor is more common amongst males than females. Men from lower socio-economic backgrounds do significantly less well in the job market than men from higher socio-economic backgrounds. Economic factors, especially unemployment influence the ability to set up an independent home and also affect access to marriage or long term relationships and fatherhood. Social Effects What emerges from the two men’s narratives is that a series of difficulties in their young lives – personal, family, educational and structural – narrowed their life options as they grew to adulthood. They were overwhelmingly from economically deprived backgrounds. Their early family lives were characterized by multiple traumas especially
  • loss, disruption and instability. They had experienced the absence of parenting, either because a parent had left the family home, or was unable to cope. These men lacked role models. In one case, the relationships with his father was always in conflict until the father disappeared from the home. These two guys lacked substitute figures outside the family. Even though there is widespread change in men’s roles, the evidence is that many, perhaps most, men are adjusting and adapting to change. Some categories of men, mainly young, working class men, have found these social and economic transformations difficult. Men from these backgrounds are more likely to lack the economic and wider social benefits of education and marriage and fatherhood may now be less of an option for them than in the past. These are also at risk of psychological marginalization in that loneliness and despair was affecting their mental health. Despite the challenge and confusion amongst men there is no general crisis of masculinity. There is evidence, however, of the increasing isolation and alienation of a particular grouping of men who are in this situation due to a combination of structural, family and personal factors. Family and Changing Family Structures There are major changes in the Kenyan family over the last three decades which has affected the family structure and has had negative impact on the young men and boys. I will try to attempt to isolate those factors which impact particularly on young boys and men. There has been quite considerable family change in Kenya over the last three decades. The institution of marriage as I knew it when I was young and even after I married has gradually changed. Marriage is, still overwhelmingly the option for couples setting up a home together, but the marriage rate has fallen and diverse family forms are now common .Marital separation has also increased. Types of family units now in evidence include couples without children and single parent families, the majority of which are headed by separated and never married females. There has been almost continuous decline in marriage stability since the 1970s. Single parent family units have increased considerably since the 1980s. The Consequences of Family Change The family environment, it is generally agreed, is key to later outcomes for the child. Children and young people need certain basic elements although there is flexibility about how, where and by whom they are delivered. The absence of a parent may be important in relation to certain outcomes, including behavioural difficulties, in the child but this is dependent on a number of factors. These include the child’s access to alternative sources of affirmation and models of behaviour, the parenting ability of the sole or remaining adult and economic resources. When these features line up in a negative combination, especially in single parent families with no adequate supports, the children may be vulnerable. Negative outcomes for children are usually only evident when there is
  • reliance on only one source of parenting and when this parenting is inadequate in the context of economic disadvantage. Outcomes The explanation for boys’ greater tendency for overtly deviant behaviour as they develop may be explained in terms of a greater propensity amongst males to externalize problems from an early age. Boys and young men who experience behavioural difficulties are more likely to hate schooling and drop out of school and are less likely to have successful school careers or even successful lives. Family changes have challenged traditional values around marital power relationships and childcare responsibilities. Marital and sexual relationships are more fluid and lack permanence. Yet these developments have not always resulted in negative outcomes. Our Kenyan children and their parents have, in general, adjusted to these developments and some men have welcomed the opportunity to refocus on fatherhood and home issues. It is possible however that the gain in terms of family change may have benefited women more than men. Marriage may have become less available to some young men and in the light of the positive effects of marriage for men this may represent a loss for them. Finally I believe there is hope in this area. I want to encourage our boys and young men to seek for people who can mentor them and give them hope. All is not lost. My challenge to the adults men in our society is: “DON’T GIVE UP. INSTEAD DO SOMETHING AND ASSIST THESE YOUNG MEN AND BOYS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. THEIR CRY IS GENUINE AND NEEDS ATTENTION”.