Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5.21.2009 From Boys to Men

It seems common knowledge that little boys require an extraordinary amount of physical energy.  They always need a job to do, or, left to their own devices, they most certainly will destroy, dismantle, or otherwise wreak havoc upon their immediate surroundings.  Young boys are always on the move, in search of the next adventure.

As I watched two such (adorable) terrors wrestle each other the other day, I wondered when this gusto for activity and enthusiasm for simply doing disappears.  Because it also seems common understanding that adult men tend towards apathy, they become the quintessential 'couch potato' content to escape into the internet, video games, dumbed down television, and inactivity.

Here is my unprofessional but honestly observed theories on how this happens:
  1. American culture emasculates men.  The feminist movement, while rightfully fighting for suffrage and equal pay, has replaced one oppression for another.  Rather than simply elevating women to the appropriate position of equal and complementary partner in this world, the movement has, instead, forced men to cower in the corner where women used to sit.  It has become dangerous for men to assert themselves too much or to have too loud of an opinion.  It is far easier for them to just stay out of the discussion because, before they even open their mouths, they're wrong. 
  2. As boys reach puberty, moms stop appreciating and start nagging.  Good moms offer an abundance of praise when their young children 'help' around the home.  But as boys age, it's less fun and more of a chore to clean up after themselves.  In their well-intentioned efforts to teach their sons responsibility, moms unintentionally become annoying nags who focus on the work that's not being done and fail to reward with the enthusiastic thanks they once gave.  In some cases, moms eventually give up and do the work for their sons, teaching them that laziness is more effective.
  3. Men's basic needs are ignored.  It really doesn't take much to make a man feel good about himself, and it takes just as little to tear him down.  I believe that men really do desire to provide, serve, and help (society, their families, their organizations) but when they don't feel that their efforts are noticed, appreciated, respected, and praised, they quickly retreat.  Women have a difficult time understanding this because, as many wives have complained, they still cook, clean, and care for their home even without thanks.  "No one tells me I'm doing a good job but I don't stop doing it" is how women see it.  But that's not the proper comparison.  A woman may continue her daily tasks without notice but a woman who goes unnoticed in a relationship retreats from it.  A man wants appreciation for the work that he does but a woman wants appreciation for the person she is.  Because so many women fail to recognize how valuable their respect and praise is to the men they know, these men eventually stop providing, serving, and helping them.

None of my theories excuses men from their tendency towards apathy but if I'm right, then we as a culture can work together against it.  It is equally important to raise young women who value men's contributions as it is to raise young men who honor women. 

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