Dads, your sons are in trouble.
They’re five times more likely than your daughters to be expelled from preschool and four times more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disorder in grade school. The downward trend continues into college, where they comprise a mere 42 percent of all students and earn fewer bachelor’s degrees than female students.
The entertainment media compound the problem by portraying guys as brainless losers.
Dr. Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan, authors of “The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It,” surveyed 20,000 men in 2011 to determine the causes of the motivational and social problems impacting today’s young men. Nearly two-thirds of the participants blamed conflicting messages from media, institutions, parents and peers about what is acceptable and desirable male behavior.
In other words, guys don’t know how to be men.
It’s understandable that they feel this way. High-functioning male role models are hard to find.
Forty percent of all births are to unmarried women. Intact marriages fail half of the time.
Even when fathers live full time with their kids, their interactions fall woefully short. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that men with children between the ages of 6 and 17 spend 47 minutes each day devoted to child care but 5.8 hours on leisure activities such as watching TV, socializing or exercising.
Without adequate adult intervention, boys make dubious choices. Research shows that:
60 percent of U.S. rapists come from fatherless homes.
72 percent of adolescent murderers grew up without a dad.
70 percent of long-term prison inmates are fatherless.
Dads, this is where you come in.
You are your sons’ best teachers when it comes to being guys. They need to see first-rate men in action so they witness all it means to be male. Talk to them on a daily basis about the challenges you face at work and in the community. This doesn’t mean you need to be perfect. Rather, you become the living example of what you want them to be.