Blogs

Breaking The Boy Crisis Through Fatherhood

At James’ Ark, we recognize the profound impact fathers have on the development of their children. A father’s presence and active involvement are pivotal in shaping children, especially boys, into well-rounded and responsible men. Unfortunately, many children lack this crucial influence, often turning to negative role models found in gangs and on the streets.

Our research and statistics at James’ Ark highlight a stark reality: children growing up without a father or a positive male role model face a significantly higher risk of behavioural issues, poor academic performance, and susceptibility to negative influences. In contrast, children with engaged fathers tend to exhibit greater self-confidence, emotional stability, and social competence.

Why is a father’s role so crucial? Fathers provide the first example of masculinity for their children. By demonstrating respect, responsibility, kindness, and empathy, fathers can challenge and change harmful stereotypes of masculinity often glorified in the media. This positive influence helps boys understand that true strength lies in character, integrity, and the ability to care for others.

Moreover, when fathers are actively involved, they model healthy relationships. They show how to treat others with respect and compassion, setting a standard for their sons to follow in their own future relationships and for their daughters to expect and demand respect in their interactions with men.

At James’ Ark, our programs are dedicated to supporting fathers in fulfilling this essential role. We offer a new therapeutic parenting coaching approach to help fathers develop effective parenting strategies and connect with their children on a deeper level. Our support groups provide a platform for fathers to share their experiences and challenges, gaining valuable insights and encouragement from others in similar situations.

Empowering fathers to be positive role models is a key aspect of breaking the cycle of negative masculinity. By fostering an environment where children can admire and respect their fathers, we can help steer them away from negative influences and towards a future of positive personal development.

The impact of a positive male role model extends beyond the individual child to the broader community. When boys grow up with a healthy understanding of masculinity, they contribute to a society that values respect, empathy, and responsibility. This creates a ripple effect, promoting a culture where positive male role models are the norm rather than the exception.

Warren Farrell emphasizes the importance of a father’s role in teasing as it prepares children for dealing with bullying in high school and teaches boundary enforcement. He suggests that when fathers engage in playful teasing with their children, they provide valuable lessons in resilience, assertiveness, and social interaction. By gently teasing and playfully challenging their children, fathers help them develop thicker skins, learn to stand up for themselves, and establish healthy boundaries. This approach prepares children to handle teasing and bullying from peers in high school by instilling confidence, self-assurance, and the ability to assert their boundaries effectively.

This proactive approach instills a sense of self-assurance and empowers children to stand up for themselves, making them less likely targets for bullies. In essence, the lessons learned from a father’s involvement in teasing and boundary enforcement serve as a form of preventative measure against bullying by strengthening children’s ability to navigate social interactions and assert their rights effectively.

By James Cunningham

The Boy Crisis: Why Both Genders Lose When Only One Wins

In societal issues, the well-being of boys often takes a backseat, overshadowed by concerns for other demographics. However, the repercussions of neglecting the needs of boys reverberate far beyond their individual experiences, affecting the entire fabric of society. The stark reality is that when only one sex wins, both sexes ultimately lose.

The Harsh Reality of the Boy Crisis

The statistics surrounding the boy crisis paint a sobering picture. When boys and girls are nine years old, their outcomes are largely equal. However, as they enter adolescence, a troubling trend emerges. Between the ages of 10 and 14, boys become twice as likely as girls to complete suicide. By the time they reach young adulthood, the disparity becomes even more pronounced, with boys aged 20 to 24 facing a fivefold increase in the likelihood of suicide compared to their female counterparts.

In the United Kingdom, the staggering number of suicides in a single year surpasses the combined death toll of all wars since 1945. Meanwhile, prisons have become centers for boys who grew up without the presence of their fathers, with a 700% increase in the prison population since 1972, with 93% of inmates being men.

The Educational and Emotional Gap

Boys have also fallen behind in educational attainment, particularly in areas such as reading and writing. By age 21, many boys have spent an average of 14,000 hours gaming – the same time that it would take to complete a degree. This phenomenon, often termed the “boy crisis,” is exacerbated in households where fathers are absent, leading to what is known as “dad deprivation.”

The Role of Dads in Nurturing Boys

The solution to the boy crisis lies in promoting active fatherhood and encouraging shared parenting. Fathers play a crucial role in instilling qualities such as empathy, social skills, and motivation in their children. Through activities such as roughhousing, boundary enforcement, and bond building, dads can foster crucial life skills in their sons, ultimately leading to healthier outcomes.

Children who grow up with involved fathers exhibit warmer, more mature, and more empathetic traits, along with higher levels of self-esteem and independence. Therefore, it is imperative for governments to align policies with the promotion of dad-enriched parenting, including initiatives to encourage shared parenting and support for stay-at-home dads.

End the toxic hate of gender blame

It is time to move beyond the blame game and embrace a gender liberation movement that acknowledges the importance of both sexes in shaping the future. By prioritizing the well-being of boys and fostering active fatherhood, we can create a society where every child has the opportunity to thrive.

Remember, children need their father’s time more than their father’s dime.

The boy crisis is most acutely felt in households where fathers are absent. This phenomenon, often referred to as “dad deprivation,” leads to a myriad of negative outcomes for boys, including a lack of postponed gratification, empathy, social skills, motivation, and a sense of identity.

As a result of dad deprivation, we see a concerning increase in depression, suicide rates, and addictions to alcohol, drugs, video games, and pornography among boys. These boys are more likely to engage in harmful behaviors such as crime, drug dealing, bullying, and even mass shootings, particularly in school settings. Behind their anger lies a vulnerability that goes unnoticed and unaddressed.

To address the boy crisis, we must prioritize active fatherhood and follow four essential guidelines in cases of separation or divorce:

• Advocate for equal shared parenting, ensuring that both parents play an active role in their child’s life.

• Aim for a maximum of 20 minutes’ drive between homes to facilitate regular and meaningful contact between the child and both parents.

• Avoid badmouthing the other parent, as this only further exacerbates the emotional turmoil experienced by the child.

• Encourage couples mediation to foster constructive communication and cooperation between parents for the well-being of their child.

By adhering to these principles, we can begin to address the root causes of the boy crisis and create a society where every child has the opportunity to thrive.

James Cunningham
James’ Ark

The dangers of the unattached male

By James Cunningham

Unattached males account for 62% of male suicides. Divorced men are 8 times more likely to take their lives than divorced women.
Generally men take less care of themselves after a divorce, they eat less fruit and vegetables, skip going to the doctors, they take more risks and are more likely to self-medicate through alcohol and drugs.

Social interaction is known to help lower depression but the social isolation brought on by the loss of their children, family life and changes in their whole lifestyle, for example, loss of income, moving into a new home isolated away from their family, and the impact of divorce alone can lead to suicide. They have a smaller network of friends to deal with their depression and anxiety, this is due to losing mutual friendships after the divorce. Men’s sole support is usually their wife and children, this can be due to working long hours to provide for their family and sacrificing their social lives. In short, after divorce it is the man who loses it all.

The unattached male can be a risk to themselves and others, if they feel that they have nothing to lose, they take risks and can act out of desperation.

Society is dependent on men being attached to a strong moral order centered in families, not only to help raise children but to discipline their own sexual behaviour and to reduce their competitive aggression.

The attached male will reduce risk taking due to the love and devotion to their families. It is common to hear men say, they will give up certain deviant behaviours only when they have children.

So, is it better for our community as a whole to encourage father involvement? The evidence is clear, both men and children do unbelievably better while involved with each other.

Ref: Samaritans / David Popnoe (Life Without Father)

THE IMPACT OF FAMILY SEPARATION ON CHILDREN

Research suggests that family separation has immediate and long-term negative impacts on children’s health. There are a few rare instances when family separation is beneficial to the child, such as cases of extreme abuse in which it would be physically unsafe for the child to remain in the household with their parent. There are other instances when family separation is unavoidable, such as during a natural disaster, as we see with tsunamis, earthquakes, or large fires. Barring such crises, it is paramount to avoid family separation whenever possible.

How does family separation impact children’s health?

In some regards, the impact of family separation depends on the circumstances and mechanism of the separation. However, there also seems to be underlying aspects of family separation that are universal. These aspects span circumstance, culture, geography, and even children’s age.

When children become separated from their families, the parent-child bond is disrupted. The disruption in the parent-child bond, as understood through Bowlby and Ainsworth’s attachment theory, can harm children’s psychological health. Children can become less flexible, open, and adaptable to the world around them.

In physiologic terms, the impact of family separation can be understood as creating a toxic stress. We all face challenges in our day-to-day lives. For some individuals, adversity is extreme and repeated. For children facing situations that create repeated adversity in childhood, we call these factors adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Family separation due to ACEs (for example parental incarceration, parent divorce, or parent death) are strong ACEs that create a toxic stress response in a child’s body. Without loving, trusted caregivers, the toxic stress intensifies, leaving a child’s body in a continual state of “fight or flight” stress response. The impact is upregulation of stress hormones, which worsens emotional health and can increase risk of physical illness, such as autoimmune disease or even heart attack later in life.

In terms of diagnoses, family separation creates a profound trauma on children’s lives. Many children develop depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Given the mechanism of toxic stress described above, family separation may impact children’s risk of medical conditions into adulthood as well, such as by increasing the risk of stress-related illnesses including heart disease or heart attacks.

The best way to mitigate the impacts of family separation is to avoid family separation whenever possible. When family separation does occur, children should be reunited with their families as quickly as possible (when safe to do so). When reunion does occur, the reunion and long-term reunification process needs to be supported. Also, during separation, when children are suffering the stress of the separation, the setting the child is in should be developmentally appropriate. Children should be allowed to communicate with their parents and receive frequent updates and clear expectations regarding reunion. That is because UNCERTAINTY around reunion—children wondering if, when, or ever they will reunite with their parents—can be gruelling. The ambiguity of children not knowing whether or when they will reunite with their families intensifies the separation. The impact of the separation is worse when children have less understanding or control over what is happening.

Data suggests that the impacts of family separation on children’s health have universal features, are intense, and are likely life-long. To promote a healthy society and healthy children (and future adults), family separation should be prevented when possible. Children’s health and well-being are at stake.

Liz Barnert, MD, MPH, and MS; Pediatrician & Assistant Professor at UCLA