Are you concerned about our sons struggling with addiction?
Would some positive ideas and action steps be helpful?
What are some things we can do as a society to help our boys and young men succeed in life?
We tend to focus on women, minorities, and other groups that society sidelines, which is important. But in the process, we can overlook the problems that some of our sons struggle with. We need to address them as well.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, your son likely already has problems with substance use or other issues.
So some of these ideas may be ones you wish you had put in place earlier. But we can only deal with what is in front of us with the tools we have available at the time. The good news is that it’s never too late to make changes. We can learn new skills and tools that improve communication and outcomes.
It has become apparent to many researchers that dad deprivation has a more negative impact on boys than girls. The damage to the boys lasts longer. Regarding performance in school and their future careers, fatherless sons fall behind boys with an involved dad.
Here are a few thoughts to consider:
The fallout from divorce
One of the things I mentioned in my previous article about the boy crisis is that many of the problems that struggling sons have resulted from the lack of an involved father. The loss of a dad’s presence in their daily life negatively impacts them. This can happen due to a father’s death, but more often, it’s due to divorce.
If a father dies, a child will likely think of him as a hero and be proud to be his son. Yet, if his parents are divorced, too often, the dad will lose touch with his kids or be bad-mouthed by the mother. If the parents are unmarried and split up before their son turns nine, 40 percent of those children will have no regular contact with their father. Single and divorced mothers concerned about the negative impacts of their children’s loss of a male presence in the household can promote their son’s healthy development by seeking out male role models who will be an ongoing presence in their children’s lives.
Growing up without their father affects all children, but the negative consequences are more prevalent for sons than daughters. And the negative impacts can last longer for sons. Dads are the male role model for their sons. They offer their son structure and inspiration. Without an involved dad, a son can develop depression and grow up without a well-developed sense of self.
Parenting experts have agreed that the early years are delicate for a child. Kids need both parents.
Divorce sometimes is necessary for the health and well-being of the parents. However, children must be considered as well.
The infants and toddlers who did best after divorce were the ones that had shared parent time with approximately equal father involvement.~ Warren Farrell
Overall the children in shared parenting families had better outcomes on measures of emotional, behavioral, and psychological well-being, as well as better physical health and better relationships with their fathers and their mothers, benefits that remained even when there were high levels of conflict between their parents. ~ Linda Nielson
Your adult son may still harbor the pain of not having an involved father when he was growing up. Encouraging your son to express his feelings and engage in family therapy can help.
Family dinner night
In his book, The Boy Crisis, Warren Farrell mentions that “family dinner nights are the single most important preparation for helping your son internalize emotional intelligence.”
Studies show that children who grow up in households where the family frequently gathers for dinner are less likely to drink or smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, suffer from depression or develop eating disorders.
If you have busy weeks, like many people, sitting down even a few nights a week can be helpful. Meals such as breakfast or lunch are also good times to gather and talk. Family dinner nights are a perfect time to have discussions that help you take the temperature of how your children are doing at school and in other areas to give them a chance to express their feelings. Plus, they can be fun!
Teenagers rank family dinner pretty high on their list of things they like to do, and 80% of teenagers say that family dinner is the time of the day they’re most likely to talk to their parents. The secret sauce is, is it enjoyable? Do kids feel that when they speak, somebody wants to listen to what they have to say? Is there not much criticism, or anger, or conflict at the table? These are the things that I think families really should focus on.~ Anne Fishel
If your adult child lives with you or is close by, it’s never too late to start connecting at regular family dinner nights. You can read more about the importance of family dinner nights here.
My book answers many of the questions readers of this post may have – including how to help their child find recovery compassionately. Click on the book for more information. I hope the book is helpful.One of the things that can be extremely helpful is having your tween or teen participate in sports. This gets tricky if your child is not particularly athletic or doesn’t enjoy team sports. It’s hard to compete if you don’t feel confident. Yet, there are many sports to choose from, such as karate, swimming, golf, mountain biking, and running, which are more individualized. Encourage your child to find a type of physical activity they enjoy doing. There are endless benefits, from physical and mental health to skill building and making friends with similar interests.
And if your child is an adult, participating in sports could be something you do together. A few parents have mentioned to me that their son and dad golf together or participate in other sports. Maybe your teen or adult child will go for a run with you occasionally, or you can meet up to play a game of tennis.
A hike in nature could be fun. Walking side by side is a great way to have a conversation. It may be easier for your son to open up without the intensity of a face-to-face discussion.
Physical activity is good for overall health. In children it is necessary for a strong body, including muscles and bones. Getting the blood pumping throughout the body can also help with mood and emotional health. Use the opportunities that nature provides and get outside and get moving with your children. Physical activity will not only benefit your body, but also your child’s growing body. ~ Michigan State University Extension
Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. ~ John F. Kennedy
There is certainly more we can do to help our struggling sons who are in pain due to the lack of an involved dad or for other reasons, but these are some ideas to start with.
And a big shout out to the dads and moms who are there for their kids.
Over to you
Share your thoughts on what you think could help our struggling sons.
Sources:Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children Shared Physical Custody: Summary of 40 Studies on Outcomes for ChildrenBoy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, by Warren Farrell and John GrayThis article was updated on June 12, 2023.Access research-based resources to help you support your child in a kind, compassionate way, which can lead to change.
Consider checking out my book, The Compassion Antidote: A Path to Change for You and Your Child Struggling with Addiction.
Get access to my online course, Regain Your Hope, an online course that gives you an action plan to help your child. Know that your child can change. Love, Cathy
By: Cathy Taughinbaugh
Title: How Can We Help Our Struggling Sons?
Sourced From: cathytaughinbaugh.com/help-our-struggling-sons/
Published Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2023 05:07:11 +0000