#BoysNeedaHugToo

Love the skin in which you live

While I could just bore you with a lot of statistics (and I will later in this post) to support my contention that boys should be part of the discussion on issues affecting our youth (and yes, adults) such as low self-esteem, poor body self-image and depression I will start with an anecdotal story.

My two children are both great kids and for the most part well-adjusted. My daughter Daniela exudes confidence and at this point I don’t see any issues with he self esteem. Yes, her teen years are ahead and that may change but for now there are no red flags, at least ones I have witnessed. My son Drake, who at 11 is two years older than his sister, is a different story at times. While he is happy much of the time he does have episodes which make me raise a parental eyebrow and wonder about what is going on inside his young brain.

Recently, Drake has taken to expressing that he is “fat”. Anyone who knows my son knows that this could not be further from the truth. Drake openly admits he is the lightest kid in his Grade 5 class. He is extremely active. Drake practices with his school track team twice a day and skates up to six times per week during the hockey season and once or twice a week in the off-season. He is a model of fitness as a pre-adolescent yet he suffers from a below average image of his own body.

This is becoming a more common belief among young boys. Just like young women are bombarded by images of the “perfect” female form boys are equally served a healthy dose of “ripped” men in movies, television and other forms of media. The difference in my opinion? The push-back on the portrayal of the Victoria Secret type model is clearly evident throughout the mainstream media. Campaigns such as Dove’s Self Esteem Project or the move this year by Sports Illustrated  to include plus size model Ashley Graham as one of the magazine’s cover models for the annual swimsuit issue are laudable indeed. The issue I have is not with this push to make young women more comfortable in their own skin but the lack of  any move to include boys/men in the discussion and to make them recognize that a healthy body doesn’t always come with a six-pack and 20-inch pythons. The discussion of body self-image, like many issues that seemingly effect both girls and boys more or less equally, seems to be gender-focused on young girls.

Caroline Knorr who is the Senior Parenting Editor for Common Sense Media recognized that boys were having issues with loving their bodies just as much as their female counterparts. Her recent article cited evidence that indicates that 30-35% of boys age 6 to 8 “indicate their ideal body is thinner than their current body”. Those numbers should set off alarm bells but that does not appear to be the case in society. (to read the article click on the following link Boys and body image ).

A cry for help?

Some people may not be buying into my belief that boys are just as much risk as young girls when it comes to some of the issues with which our youth seem to struggle. However, the proof is right there in black and white for all of us to see (I warned you, here comes the boring statistical part!). Statistics indicate that suicide is the third leading cause of death among males age 10 to 24 in our country. Further, in 2012 in Canada, 398 males in the same age groups listed above took their own lives versus 154 females. While the female rate of suicide among 15 to 19 year-olds has remained virtually flat between 2008 and 2012 (68 vs. 67) the rate among the same group of males has risen over 14% over the same period (140 vs. 160). This screams out loud and clear that there are many issues with our young boys. The question is, why does nobody seem to care?

The Lost Boys – a disenfranchised generation of young men

When looking deeper into this topic I believe that society can set its sites on many factors which are contributing to our  failing of our young boys but I will train my figurative howitzer directly on our school system.

Michael Thompson, who is a noted expert on the emotional well-being of boys and the author of the book Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys has shed light on the issue which he believes is a crisis in the western world. Thompson speaks to how we (yes, we) are failing our young boys and he makes no issue with calling out our educators for being at the front of the line on the list of those leading the way in dropping the ball when it comes to raising our young men. I consider Raising Cain a must read for any parent raising a young boy. When I read this book a lot of memories/emotions regarding school began rushing back.

Again, like many other issues affecting young boys the crisis of how boys are not being engaged by our educators is very apparent. Think about the fact that post-secondary institutions in the United States are struggling to maintain a 60/40 female:male split. Look at the shocking statistics related to the male drop-out rate in our high schools (36 per cent of boys who start Grade 9 in New York City will not graduate high school). Focus on the statistics that indicate that in most western countries that 70 percent of the top students in our schools are girls and 70 per cent of the bottom students are boys and it becomes apparent that we have a crisis on our hands.

As many experts on the subject of boys well-being  believe, we can either ignore these obvious issues or choose to address them in a meaningful manner. If we choose the former, it will come with significant consequences for all of society in the very near future.

#BoysNeedaHugToo

OneDadWithaBlog

Boys need a hug too!

self esteem
My next post will be a little more political but it need not be if you think about what it will convey.  The discussion on self esteem seems very gender one-sided at this point but should it be that way?  Boys are dropping out of school at an alarming rate,  suicide rates among teen boys (and adult males) are significantly higher than that of their female counterparts and studies indicate body self-image is as much of an issue among boys as it is for girls. Boys bleed and cry just like girls,  they seek approval just like their gender opposites. Boys need to be brought into the discussion on self esteem.

Continue reading “Boys need a hug too!”

Two of the three most important things in my life

Two generations of Habs fans at this year's Winter Classic in Foxborough
Two generations of Habs fans at this year’s Winter Classic in Foxborough

Anyone who knows me could probably easily guess two of the three most important things in my life – family and hockey (yes, despite what some of you believe that is the correct order!).

Family tops my list and the older I get the larger the role it plays in my life. This probably is related to that old sense of mortality (SOM for short) one begins to feel at a certain time in their life. That SOM may be realized when we reach a certain milestone on the calendar of life. For others it might be because of a certain event that hits you figuratively right between the eyes (and usually in the heart).

My SOM came about on December 6, 2005. That is the day when “pops” left our family far too early at the age of 77. I still remember the last good day I had with my dad just shortly before he passed away. It was one good day among many not so good days in his last few months on the planet. I can still picture it, me and my dad sitting in his hospital room and sharing a crossword (dad was the best crossword solver I had ever encountered and he was still sharp enough on that day to make me look silly). I still remember the smile he gave me when I left his room to go home. Days later pops took a turn for the worse as they say and shortly after shuffled off the mortal coil and took his place in heaven. I am certain he is still playing crosswords somewhere up there in the great beyond.

Some people say they never had any regrets in life. I find that very hard to believe and very cold indeed. I miss my dad every day and still regret not being there to hold his hand, say goodbye and tell him that I loved him on the day he died. Regrets are part of what makes us all human.

Me and my dad were not buddy-buddy close like you see in those Hallmark-type commercials but I loved him just the same. Even though most of us love our parents despite their flaws (yes, the idea that my father was “Superdad” wore off at a young age) we usually vow to change the way we raise our kids in some way.

The big item on that list for me is to make sure I make as much time for my kids as a I can when they are young. Some people believe that a singular focus on their career will be the road to a better life for their kids. Hey, I am not knocking those people, I get it, they believe their road to happiness in life is paved with new cars, big houses and expensive clothes. For me life is about experiences which lead to memories. I don’t know about you but usually when I remember the family car my parents had at any given time it usually goes hand-in-hand with a family memory (yes, there were some memories tied to the family car in my teen life but I will leave those untold to protect the innocent!).

Getting back to nature on the family camping trip
Getting back to nature on the family camping trip

I hope when my kids get older they will have a figurative box overflowing with memories of their childhood and hopefully many will bring a smile to their face (or maybe even make them laugh). For me the old phrase “I will sleep when I am dead” has taken on new meaning as a parent. I love Drake and Daniela more than life. Like my dad I do have some issues putting it into words sometimes but I believe as a parent that actions do indeed speak louder than words. I hope when both of my kids are old enough to make the connection that they will understand that saying “I love you” does not carry the same weight as showing it. I also hope that they understand that by me being there and being active in their lives that this speaks louder than screaming “I love you” from the highest point in the city.

Daniela and Drake with Brad May on Family Day 2016
Daniela and Drake with Brad May on Family Day 2016

If you are a parent go give your kids a hug right now and make plans to create more great memories. For the rest of you take the time to pick up the phone and call mom and/or dad and maybe reminisce about a happy story involving your parents from when you were a kid. The fact that you recall that nugget of happiness from your childhood will speak volumes. Oh, and if you are like me and have difficulty expressing your feelings in words you can throw in an “I love you” when you sign off the call.

Love you dad.

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One Dad With a Blog

 

A Brave New World (aka, my first blog post)!

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Well this is it! After climbing that imaginary ladder to the top of the high dive tower and WP_20130311_005 (1)standing at the edge and looking down for what seems an eternity I am finally ready to jump in head first! I can’t believe it – my own blog! My mother always said I had an opinion about everything (mom was a farm girl from Saskatchewan and she was always fond of telling the story about how as a young child of about four that I debated her on the difference between “plowing” and “cultivating”) and now I have my own platform! I will work on the visuals over the coming months but it is the words on this blog that will always be the top priority.

I created this blog for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I love writing but I find that the busier life becomes the further removed I became from the opportunity to write. Ultimately, the figurative push off the tower came from my son with whom I discussed the idea of my own blog. I am not saying that I would not have begun this journey without him but the idea of following through on an idea became more important once my son was part of the discussion. My children are the most important part of my life and leading by example is a large piece of the very fibre of my existence.

To say that I have a definite plan about what I will write about and how often I will sit down to put my thoughts down in this blog would be untrue. Let’s just say that when the mood strikes me (and the time between hockey practices and synchro events allows) I will write about anything from politics to sports; from kids to religion (and everything in between).

If you enjoy any of my entries (whether you agree with my opinions or not) please drop me a line from time-to-time. After all, I have an opinion but I realize that everyone else has one as well.

One Dad With a Blog

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