In an Institute for Family Studies interview, Farrell asserts that today’s boys often struggle with a sense of hopelessness and a lack of purpose linked in part to family breakdown and father deprivation. He also believes that boys’ and men’s weakness is their facade of strength.
A United Nations study found boys lagging behind girls in all the developed nations. The women’s movement has really helped young girls recognize that girls can take many paths and be successful. However, while girls’ sense of purpose has grown, boys’ sense of purpose has not. Boys seem to hear either that it’s all about earning money or being a loser. Farrell wonders what would happen if we told boys that being a full-time caregiver is a worthy option.
After poring through the related research, Farrell believes the gap between dad-deprived boys and dad-enriched boys will become the single biggest predictor of those who become economically poor versus economically rich.
Boys with little to no father involvement often look to their dads as role models. But without much time with their dads, their role models are more “straw men” or “straw dads,” says Farrell.
“These boys don’t benefit from overnights, hang-out time, and the many hours it takes for boys to bond with their dads and trust that their feelings won’t be dismissed. Dads tend to build bonds with their sons by, for example, playing games and rough-housing, and then use the resulting bond as leverage for their sons to ‘get to bed on time’ lest there be ‘no playing tomorrow night.’”
This boundary enforcement teaches boys postponed gratification, whereas boys with minimal or no father involvement are more frequently addicted to immediate gratification. Additionally, having minimal or no father involvement increases the chances of video game addiction, ADHD, bad grades, less empathy, less assertiveness and more aggression. It also leads to fewer social skills, more alienation and loneliness, more obesity, rudderlessness, anger, drugs, drinking, delinquency, disobedience, depression and suicide*. Fatherless boys are more likely to serve time in prison, too.
In a TEdx Talk on “The Boy Crisis,” Farrell cites that since 1980 in California, 18 new prisons were built, but only one new university. There’s been a 700 percent increase in the prison population and it’s mostly a dad-deprived male population.
As an example of the pain of fatherlessness, Farrell mentioned Anthony Sims. Sims is known as the Oakland Killer. His last Facebook post was this: “I wish I had a father.”
Many see guns as the problem. However, Farrell contends that school shootings are mostly white boys’ method of acting out their hopelessness. He says guns are also white boys’ method of committing suicide, and serve as a reflection of our inability to help constructively track boys to manhood. He points out that girls living in those same homes with the same family values and issues are not killing people at school.
Farrell speaks of attending a party once where he learned that a men’s group formed by Farrell had impacted a man named John more than any other thing in his life. When group members asked the man, “What is the biggest hole in your heart?” he blurted out, “I was so involved in my career, I neglected my wife and my son. That’s the biggest hole and a deeper hole because I ended up divorced. I remarried and the group knew that my wife was pregnant with our son.” The group then asked, “If you could do anything you wanted, what would you like to do?” He said he would take five years off and help raise his son. Then he talked with his wife, who told him to go for it. He shared that it had been two years.
Farrell asked John if it was a good decision.“No,” he replied. “The best decision of my life. Up until I took care of my son, my whole life was about me, me, me. Suddenly it was about my son. I suddenly learned to love and be loved.”
As they were wrapping up their conversation, someone asked for an autograph. Farrell thought it was for him, but it was for John. Farrell said, “I guess you’re famous. What’s your last name, John?”
“Lennon,” he said. John Lennon had discovered he was not giving love by earning money as a human doing, but by being love.
Many boys are struggling, wandering aimlessly, and looking for their purpose.
Farrell and many others believe one way to end the boy crisis is for fathers, uncles, grandfathers and other male role models to step up and stand in the gap. They also want women to encourage men in their efforts to raise men of purpose.
*If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are a number of websites and organizations with excellent resources for you. HelpGuide is a great place to start, along with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ryan-tauss-jVwb9LjxJ08-unsplash.jpg8531280Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-03-19 00:00:002022-07-29 15:22:25The Reason Why Boys Are Struggling
An alert American Airlines ticket agent has been hailed a hero after preventing two teen girls from becoming part of a human trafficking scam. The girls showed up with one-way first-class tickets to New York City from California. They had no identification on them. The agent discovered the tickets purchased with a fraudulent credit card. The suspicious ticket agent denied the girls’ tickets. While the teens walked over to a Starbucks table and made a call, the ticket agent alerted authorities.
Authorities learned that a guy had invited the girls to New York City for the weekend so they could earn $2,000 performing in music videos and modeling. The teens had no idea their tickets were one-way.
Who wouldn’t be excited about earning $2,000 in a weekend? Human traffickers often portray themselves as agents to connect young people to their dream career or to easy money. But that’s not the only way people end up trafficked. Stories abound of people being preyed upon in stores, at truck stops and online.
Research indicates that while human traffickers look for the most vulnerable at-risk youth, even young people who have loving, caring parents can fall victim to traffickers.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s website:
In the United States, on average, every two minutes, a child bought or sold for sex.
The average age of a child sold for sex is 13 years old.
Human trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal industry, just behind drug trafficking.
“According to the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative, 41 percent of those who are trafficked are trafficked by family members,” says Emily Aikins, director of survivor services at Second Life, an anti-human trafficking nonprofit in Tennessee. “Many people have this stereotype in their mind of the kind of person that is trafficked when in reality, victims of human trafficking come from literally all walks of life.”
Todd Womack, Senator Bob Corker’s chief-of-staff, happened to hear the International Justice Mission’s Gary Haugen speak on human trafficking a few years ago. At the end of Haugen’s talk, he made a plea to attendees, saying the only way to end human trafficking is if everybody looks around and decides what they can do to shed light on this tragedy in their own sphere of influence.
Womack and Corker took that call to heart and began working with the END IT Movement and other nonprofit organizations to envision, develop and pass into law the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act, which is now operating as the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.
You may be wondering how you can help prevent young people from becoming human trafficking victims. Here are some ways anyone can help:
Educate yourself. Educate yourself and family members, especially your teens, and friends about the signs of human trafficking. The more educated you are, the more prepared you will be to stop it.
Be alert. Whether you are in a restaurant, airport, walking on the street, at a sporting event or getting a pedicure, you can help prevent children from becoming victims – just like the American Airlines agent. If something looks suspicious, alert authorities by calling 911 or the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Resource Center line at 1-888-373-7888. Tennessee’s own trafficking hotline is 855-558-6484.
Teach your children good internet safety skills. Know who is in your kids’ social network. Many predators connect with teens on social media and begin grooming them. Then they do exactly as the person did with the two girls headed to New York City. They offer them something too good to be true. But even though they may know their parents wouldn’t approve, they aren’t quite discerning enough to realize they could be getting themselves into a dangerous situation.
Talk with your teens about healthy sexuality. Help them to know that sex cannot be bought and sold.
No matter the size of your platform, everyone can do something.
Turner Matthews, who interned in Senator Corker’s office, learned of the END IT Movement two years ago. Upon returning to his school, he painted a huge rock on campus known as the “The Rock with a red X.” This year he not only painted “The Rock with a red X,” he also created an event around it to bring attention to human trafficking issues. He, like so many others, is using his personal sphere of influence to bring light to the problem.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/nicholas-gercken-LWPAWvTy1NU-unsplash.jpg9381250Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-03-12 06:30:002020-11-12 15:25:36What You Can Do to End Human Trafficking
When state police called science writer David Dobbs to say that his teenage son had been driving 113 mph, he somehow kept from yelling, “What in the heck were you thinking?” Probably just like any other parent, he considered his son’s actions to be reckless. His son, however, refused to take ownership of that title. He said he chose a long, empty, dry stretch of highway on a beautiful day to drive his car that fast.
After hearing many parents complain about not being able to get into their teen’s head to understand what makes them tick, Harvard-educated researcher Shaunti Feldhahn and her co-author Lisa Rice took on that challenge. With input from more than 1200 teens, Feldhahn and Rice discovered some interesting insights into teens’ lives. The results of their work are in the book, For Parents Only, Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid.
In general, the culture believes peer pressure pushes kids to rebel and behave in reckless ways without thinking of the consequences, teens don’t care what their parents think, they don’t want rules or discipline, parents don’t listen, and teens give in easily to negative attitudes. Feldhahn and Rice say those beliefs aren’t necessarily accurate, based on their findings.
What’s really happening is this: Our teens are experiencing the intoxicating nature of freedom and the fear of losing that freedom, and they want to figure out who they are as an individual. When they test their parents’ authority, they really want them to stand firm instead of giving in. Teens want to know their parents are making an effort to understand them even when they make mistakes. They tend to stop talking because they think their parents are poor listeners, and what seems like an attitude problem might actually be a sign of insecurity.
While the authors do not endorse bad behavior or make excuses for poor choices, they do believe that their newfound knowledge could help parent-child relationships.
Although many parents believe they lose a lot of influence and that peers become more influential in the teen years, Feldhahn and Rice found that freedom is most influential. One psychotherapist said, “Freedom is like cocaine to a teenager. It’s intoxicating. It’s addictive. And it’s often their biggest motivator”. Nearly 3 of 4 teens surveyed said they felt strongly motivated by freedom. Many said they couldn’t get enough of it. However, even though they want their freedom, teens said they understood that too much, too soon wasn’t good for them.
When asked which they preferred, a parent who acted more like a friend or a parent who acted like a parent, 77 percent wanted the parent, not the friend. While teens may want their freedom, deep down they realize they need their parents to provide structure and security for them while they figure out the whole freedom thing. Additionally, knowing what freedoms are most important to your teen is essential.
Rice recalls when one of her teenage daughters called to say she had been involved in a really small accident and that everything was okay. She said her mom didn’t need to come and that she was going on to her friend’s house. Of course, Rice headed to the scene. Her daughter had been on her cell phone while driving, which was against the rules. The first thought was to take away the cell phone as a consequence, but the cell phone was a big part of her daughter’s freedom.
After discussing what happened, the daughter asked to pay off the repair costs instead of her phone taken away.
This meant turning over almost all of her paycheck for four months. As a result, she learned a very important lesson and did not resent her parents for taking her cell phone or grounding her.
If you want to get inside your kid’s head, this insightful book offers very practical ways to engage your teen during their struggle to separate themselves from you as a parent, and ultimately become a productive, healthy adult.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/HowToKnowWhatYourKidIsThinking-nordwood-themes-474559.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-02-05 06:30:002020-12-04 13:41:19How to Know What Your Kids Are Thinking
Many parents will tell you that questions like, “When will I be old enough to date? And when I date, what time will I have to be home?” start coming long before their teen is really old enough to date. Some parents go to great lengths putting rules in place for dating. There’s even been a show on the topic – Eight Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. Do you have a teen dating strategy for your teen?
“In our rush to teach young people sex education, I believe we have left out some of the important basics like: If you have a crush on someone, how do you let them know you like them? How do you start a conversation? How can you tell if a relationship is healthy or unhealthy?” says Marline Pearson, author of Increasing Your Relationship Smarts, part of Love U 2, a comprehensive relationship curriculum.
“Teens are on a journey to learn about love, relationships, themselves and their emerging sexuality. As they jump into relationships, teens are in the throes of powerful feelings of attraction, rejection and a myriad of other emotions. Most teens want affection, respect, love and connection. Yet, our young people get little guidance on navigating the world of teen relationships and the sexual culture. While we tell them what to say ‘no’ to, we do too little to help teens build the healthy relationships to which they can say ‘yes.’”
Pearson believes we need to help teens understand things like infatuation. Yes, you have strong, wonderful feelings, but you won’t see clearly for 3-6 months. It could be the first step to love, but it isn’t love at first. When you think you are falling in love with somebody, you are really falling in love with an image of who you think the person is at first. You have to put in some time to see if your snapshot is accurate.
Since most teens want to date, they are usually willing to participate in any conversation they believe will help them reach this goal. Parents can take advantage of this place in time to prepare their teens for dating.
If you want to help your teen develop a low-risk dating strategy, try Pearson’s tips below.
Seek a good match: Look for common interests. Pay attention to how the person acts. Do you find them interesting?
Pay attention to values: People give off clues all the time as to the values they hold. A relationship is doomed if the other person shuns your values.
Don’t try to change the other person: Performing an extreme makeover on another person never works. Sometimes people are so desperate to be in love they try to make you into something you are not.
Don’t change yourself: Don’t be somebody you are not just to get somebody’s love and attention. If you find yourself trying to alter who you are to get someone’s love, that is a problem.
Don’t run from conflict: Expect good communication.
Don’t play games, manipulate, pressure, be phony or use power plays to get what you want.
Ask yourself these questions: Does this relationship feel controlling or nurturing and supportive? If physical touch wasn’t part of the relationship, would there be a relationship?
Have a bottom line: You need to have a bottom line for how you expect to be treated. Never tolerate abuse. Expect respect. People will treat you the way you allow them to treat you.
“Teens today live and breathe in a culture emphasizing casual sex and casual connections where no relationship can be trusted to last and where even the most important family bonds can’t be counted on,” Pearson says.
“Teens are short on positive models. They have few road maps that will lead them into healthy relationships and away from destructive ones. Teaching your teen about committed and healthy love relationships is one of the greatest gifts you can give them and it will last a lifetime.”
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/10StepsForALowRiskTeenDatingStrategy.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-11-09 00:00:002020-12-04 13:46:4310 Steps for a Low-Risk Teen Dating Strategy
It is vital for teens to set and stick to dating standards as they build relationships. The role of a parent is that of teacher and encourager, not dictator.
Before your child gets to the level of maturity where he or she is ready to date, you should decide upon your dating standards. Determine how old your teenager must be to date. Set a curfew and describe in advance what the consequences will be for breaking this curfew and STICK TO THEM.
Additional expectations should be that your teen must always tell you:
Where he/she will be;
A phone number or numbers where he/she can be reached;
Who he/she is going out with;
What they will be doing; and
When he/she will return.
If they don’t know the answers to these questions, they don’t go out on the date.
If he/she is going to be late, a courtesy phone call is expected to let you know about the situation; this does not excuse coming in after curfew and the consequences set.
If your teenager is a female, let her know in advance that you expect her dates to come to the door to get her and to meet her parents.
Your teen should always carry enough money to get a cab/bus ride home if necessary.
Items for discussion before your teen dates:
Why does he/she want to date?
What does he/she hope to have happen?
Has your teen considered group dating? What are the benefits of group dating?
If you have a daughter preparing to date, does she have an emergency plan in case her date becomes forceful or violent? The “It won’t happen to me” plan is not good enough.
Encourage a first-date activity to be something that provides opportunity for lots of conversation.
Talk with your teenager about treating their date with respect. What does that look like?
Discuss the potential for hormonally-charged situations and how to avoid them.
What kind of messages might your teenager send by the kind of clothes they are or are not wearing? If you are the father of a teenage daughter, think about this subject very carefully, and make sure your daughter knows that men can be easily aroused by…you fill in the blanks for her. Instruct your sons to be respectful.
Who will be paying for the date? The parents or the teenager? What is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a date? Instruct your teenager that just because someone buys them dinner doesn’t mean they owe them anything.
Make sure your teenager knows that you are there for them and willing to listen if they need to talk.
If your teenager is female, talk about the dangers of dating guys much older than them.
Discuss the idea that dating is about developing a growing friendship—NOT about having sexual involvement.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/TipsForSettingDatingStandardsWithYourTeenshudson-hintze-183959-1.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-11-09 00:00:002020-12-04 13:46:08Tips for Setting Dating Standards With Your Teens
In the movie Spanglish, the mother, played by Tea Leoni, is clearly obsessed with exercise and her looks. Her daughter, played by Sarah Steele, is not overweight, but clearly not thin enough to meet her mom’s standards. Leoni tries to motivate her daughter to lose weight by going on shopping sprees and buying her beautiful, but too-small clothing. Steele is excited about the clothing, but her self-esteem tanks when none of the clothes fit.
“Between these types of movies, television shows and airbrushed photos in magazines showing women with ‘perfect bodies’, impressionable young girls get the idea that it just isn’t acceptable to be anything but a size 6 or smaller,” says Pamela Kelle, licensed nutritionist and registered dietician. “What many don’t realize is what they see on the screen isn’t real. Their body was never intended to be that size, yet they go on fad diets and do all kinds of obsessive workout routines to get themselves down to their dream weight. The only problem is, even when they get to the size they wanted to be there is still this small voice inside saying, ‘It’s not good enough.’”
Each new year, many people, including teenagers, resolve to lose weight so they will feel better about themselves. But, is it really about weight loss?
“In most instances I would have to say that losing weight is about a lot more than shedding pounds,” Kelle says. “At every turn, sometimes even in the home, teens are bombarded with negative messages about how they look. I strongly encourage parents to be aware of how they talk about food and weight. Many parents talk negatively about their own looks. Teen girls pick up on this and often internalize it. If mom doesn’t think she looks good, the daughter thinks she must not look good either. The goal for our kids should be overall health, not a certain weight.”
If you own a scale, Kelle says to get rid of it. None of us needs a scale to know when we have put on a few pounds. The way your clothes fit tells you all you need to know.
You can protect your kids from the dangerous lies in the culture.
If you want to teach your children about healthy living, Kelle’s tips can help you out in the new year:
Encourage and model healthy eating and exercise;
Provide healthy foods and nutritious meals consumed by the whole family;
Do not praise or glorify someone for being a certain body size or losing weight;
Don’t talk negatively about your own body; and
Don’t expect perfection.
Our bodies are the canvas upon which our internal conditions express themselves.
“Helping teens have healthy self-esteem and body image can be challenging in light of all the external messages they hear and see,” Kelle says. “Making your home a safe place where your teen can be real and talk about these issues will go a long way toward helping them fend off unhealthy habits. This is a gift that will last a lifetime.”
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/NewYearNewYou.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-11-01 00:00:002020-11-23 13:00:49New Year, New You
Helping teens get organized can be quite a task. When the school requested a conference with the Goldbergs regarding one of their sons, all kinds of things ran through their mind. Late homework was probably the last thing they expected to discuss.
“We determined he was in the right place. Our son kept telling us that we didn’t need to do the testing, but we assured him we did. The following year, on his own, he made a goal to turn in all homework on time and not ask for extensions on anything. At the end of the year, he told us what his goal had been and he was very proud of himself for accomplishing it.”
Goldberg’s experience with her son led her to write the book and help students master organizational skills.
“We teach children to tell time, but we don’t teach them how to manage it,” Goldberg said. “When I started this, schools did not require work planners. Now they require planners, but few students know how to use the tool to help them accomplish their goals for the year.”
Encouraging your teen to start school with goals can help them succeed in the classroom and generally, in life. Whether they want to make the football team, turn in homework on time or be on time for school, learning how to organize is foundational to their success.
“Just because parents are organized does not mean their children will be,” Goldberg said. “In many instances, I see parents who expect their children to learn organizational skills just by watching. Just modeling a particular behavior does not ensure that teens are learning it. We have to break it down for them step by step. In that process, parents need to remember that although a certain way of doing things works for them, that same system may not work for their teen.”
Goldberg believes these six steps can help teens develop organizational skills:
Work to establish trust with your teen. Your don’t allow your teen to rummage through your purse or briefcase without your permission. Instead of just going through their backpack, ask them to go through it with you.
Recognize success, no matter how small. Just because you want your teen to get organized does not mean he’ll remember everything. Have a system in place, allow it to fall apart, and start again from where you left off.
Don’t bite off more than your teen can chew. Some teens can work on an entire organizational system quickly. Others need to take it slowly.
Remove the academic component from the equation. If the goal is to complete work on time but your teen made a terrible test grade, celebrate their progress for turning in homework on time. Discuss the grade another time. Deal with them as two separate issues.
Make sure everybody knows: this is a process. Organizational skills don’t just happen, and it takes practice. There will be missteps along the way. But, as you consistently work the process, teens begin to internalize the system.
Keep everything in perspective and be positive. Stay focused on organization and remember that great achievements don’t always show up on the report card.
“I think many parents do not understand how difficult it is to be a student today,” Goldberg said. “Teens are inundated with information from the time they get up until they go to bed. It is very difficult to be organized when you are constantly transitioning. A child who does homework while messaging and texting can’t focus because he is going from one thing to another.”
Remember that teens rarely plan to be inefficient. When a child struggles with organization, try different ways to help your child problem-solve the situation.
When push comes to shove, most teens can come up with some excellent ideas. It requires time and energy, but you are teaching valuable, lifelong skills.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/6StepsToHelpTeensGetOrganized.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-10-27 00:00:002020-12-04 15:36:186 Steps to Help Teens Get Organized
One of the most important things you can do is understand adolescent brain development.
Just say the word “adolescent” in front of parents and you will likely get varied responses. Responses range from relief from surviving those years to sheer panic from those who are approaching that developmental stage. Everyone wishes they had a survival guide. Well, several years ago, The Center for Adolescent Health at Johns Hopkins University pioneered a comprehensive resource for healthy adolescent development for parents called “The Teen Years Explained.”
After culling through hundreds of adolescent development and behavior studies, they came to some surprising conclusions.
“It was quite refreshing to find that in general most teenagers are developing in a very healthy way,” says McNeely. “There is no question that while the adolescent years are a time of excitement, they can also be very challenging.”
Though teens give off a lot of cues that parents are no longer relevant or necessary in their lives, McNeely encourages parents to completely ignore those.
“The two most important people in the lives of teens are their parents, whether they are present or absent,” McNeely says. “Parents must understand that their role in their teen’s life is as critical as it was when their child was a toddler. Teens want to know their parents’ values. They want to be educated by their parents, even on the toughest subjects. The parents’ big challenge is to creatively engage their teen while they learn how to function independently.”
One of the most important things you can do is understand adolescent brain development.
“Our children are bio-chemically driven to establish independence,” McNeely states. “The problem is they are not skillful at it, nor are they ready. And they often don’t ask for independence correctly, which tends to make parents crazy.”
McNeely encourages parents to focus on life experiences that promote confidence and caring, and to build connection, competence and character. Additionally, parents need to nurture social and emotional development.
“Expectations, curfew, family meals and household chores are still crucial regardless of what your adolescent thinks and says,” McNeely says. “The key to all of this is making it reasonable. Where there were certain non-negotiables with your toddler, there will be fewer with your teen. The goal is to teach them how to make good decisions versus making all the decisions for them. While you might have a set curfew for your 13-year-old, you might negotiate at age 16.”
Teens who tend to do well have parents who aren’t afraid to set boundaries and make the tough calls, even at the risk of hearing, “I hate you!”
“Life with a teen can be challenging. But I invite people of all ages to appreciate what a marvel it is to be an adolescent,” McNeely says. “At no other time in life, even in early childhood, do human beings develop so rapidly, in so many different ways.”
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/TeenYearsExplained.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-10-17 00:00:002022-08-23 10:27:06The Teen Years Explained