I have had manhood on my mind for a long time. First in my own life of course. I carefully studied men around me. I didn’t live with my father, or any man for that matter so I often compensated for that gap by intent observation. In large groups to this day I’d rather be infront of a large group of women and men. Al though I’ve learned to feel at ease in both places. I was raised by a pack of women, so talking to women and understanding what they were interested in wasn’t a hard learning curve for me, in friendships with females and specifically my marriage. In fact a few weeks ago I went to a “mom’s coffee” so I could hit them up with new to Seattle info. Some of the mom’s didn’t seem to know what to do with me there. The were all nice, but I could tell that I was in the femalesphere and they we’re completely ok with that. BTW the info hunt worked! I came home with a full page of tips and tricks about about Upper Queen Anne.
As I grew up I often wondered what fatherhood would be like. Would I ever want kids? I allowed myself the asking and exporation of these hard questions. I guess I’ve never been afraid to ask questions. Tangent: In school I was often the “desiganted asker.” Ya know, the kid that would ask the question for you when you were to sheepish to ask it yourself.
When I entered youth ministry I realized that boys were specifically deficient in social skills in general, but particularly with girls. Never mind a young women they were attracted to or in awe of. So, I saw a teaching moment. Several teaching moments. I started simply getting men together with boys in different venues to play/do hobbies, work, and study. Then I noticed basics like the art of hand shaking, and making eye contact when you’re talking to someone. Especially when you don’t feel comfortable around the other person. For example, a friend’s parent or the old guy that sits a row behind you every Sunday at worship. For the most part those things helped, and I’ve been thanked by former students for teaching them those skills.
As time when on I noticed the nuances that came with the digital age. Isolation, speed, and size of communication. This all effected attention spans and face to face interpersonal skills. I continued teaching the afore mentioned basics while adding the skills of unplugging and spiritual solitude. Youth retreats I ran we’d encourage kids to give their phone for weekend. Sometimes we made it an act of worship: relinquishing our phones/distractions in order to be fully present with each other and God. I’ve been thanked by people in their 40s and 50s for making them slow down, things they’ve slowly laid on the altar of cultural and professional adaptation. I’ve also been thanked by students who entered college and life with skills some of their peers were grossly lacking in.
I wonder if there’s a study that juxtaposes female reactions to the same stimuli and cultural phenomena and why and if are they immune to these trends. Perhaps immune isn’t the correct word, but you get my drift. because im many respects women still want what they’ve wanted for eons. Imtimacy and proximity, among many other still mysterious things. 😉 Even though I was raised by a pack of women they are still mysterous creatures.
So my antidote? Learning to be. Learning to do the absence of do sometimes. Creating safe space for dudes, from birth to 20/30something [?] to learn scocial skills. So invite them to you’re space whether it’s an event of some sort or your living room. Tractorbeam them out of their man-caves. Impart what you’ve learned. If we all pitch-in in minute ways and the “guy” won’t become extinct?
HT to Mike Friesen for the link to the video and the twitthread that got my mind going.