Male Role Models

     Throughout the course of my day, I kept coming back to a thought I'd had in the morning. I don't know why this was the predominant thought in my noggin today but I figured I should write something about it and see if I can't figure out why. 
     I listen to NPR a lot, mostly when i'm driving, and I really put the miles away. As of late, I've found that I can't stomach more than ten or fifteen minutes of the NPR news. There's someone in the news, over and over again, that I just don't care for. I can't understand how anyone does. I think that's where today's thoughts come from. 
    Our society is lacking positive male role models. 

     It's not just a plight of the urban youth, it's effecting everyone. We have a society where the men in public leadership roles are a disgrace (I wouldn't leave any kid alone in a room with the president-elect or Maine's governor), men are a rarity in our schools, and there's a dominant paradigm where all fathers are some version of Homer Simpson (a character I find hilarious but not someone I would want to be compared to). 

     Let's tackle these one at a time. We'll start with the "leaders". We've had eight years of outstanding leadership in the White House from a very decent man, father, and husband. Does he get much credit for it? No, many of the other male "leaders" cut him down and attempt to belittle his accomplishments. They play petty political games in an attempt to discredit him. They refuse to work together for compromise and work as a team. Our kids see this and many of them think it's okay (and I don't think it's just the kids but many of our citizens who refuse to educate themselves or to care about their fellow human beings or the planet they live on). In Maine we have a governor who thinks it's okay to call people who question his decisions and he verbally abuses them over the telephone. This isn't leadership, and it certainly isn't manly. It's petty, stupid stuff that does nothing to improve our society. It drives wedges in between people. Most importantly, it's a bad example of what it means to be a decent human being. Our kids see this, and many of them think that's what it means to be a man. We have a person who might become our president who displays no characteristics of what I would consider to be a decent human being. He doesn't care to hear security briefings, he degrades women, he's a racist, and he's surrounding himself with people who share similar values. I don't want my son to meet that guy. I'm embarrassed for the US. I think one of the biggest points of embarrassment is that we, the people, did not elect this jerk. I will never cease to remind everyone I can that someone else won the vote, by more than 2.8 million votes (the last figure I saw). One of the biggest issues I have with this loser is that he is about the worst male role model I could imagine. We don't want our kids emulating his behavior. (Funny aside, I once met one of his sons, when I was in high school and he was attending a local private school. That kid was the biggest jerk I've ever met, hands down, and I only spent about five minutes around him.)

     I've spent a long time in education, both elementary and middle/high school level. There are few positive male role models in schools. I think it's because men don't have the same level of tolerance for bullshit that women do (I commend many women for that tolerance, I don't know how they do it). My son's school has one male teacher. I know he is making a difference in my son's life and I really appreciate that. I know he is making a difference in the lives of the other kids in that school and I appreciate that as well. I'm not taking away from the contributions of the positive female role models in my son's school, I just feel that we need to think about getting more men involved with kids in positive ways. Another problem we have with schools, as with the politicians, is that it isn't the cream that rising to the top. Many of the educational leaders I've met, men and women, have no business running a Burger King, let alone a school. Ask me about some notable exceptions. Okay, actually, of the seven men I've worked with in educational leadership positions, 5.5 out of 8 were and are decent human humans who care about the kids and communities they serve. 2.5 are dipshits, with one especially coming to mind. This one is a principal of a high school who doesn't understand basic statistics, hasn't spent enough time teaching in a classroom to understand anything, and is hell bent on personal promotion at any cost, not genuinely caring about the students, the teachers, or his community. He does keep the local hair product industry in business, though. He's not the kind of role model any of us need, male or otherwise, yet he's a dime a dozen in our society.

     I'm not Homer Simpson. Neither are many of the men I know, yet it's accepted in our society for women to make comments like,"Well, I have three kids, but four if you count my husband." Not only is that disrespectful, it's degrading. Husbands and wives are supposed to be partners in raising kids and managing the home. It is not okay to belittle the contributions of 1/2 of that co-op, yet our society thinks that's okay. If I said that the little wifey should mind her business and get back in the kitchen, I would be crucified in the court of public opinion, even if I was kidding. The problem with all of this is that the kids are listening. If a little boy hears his father degrade women, he's going to think it's okay. Guess what, that goes for the mother, too. If the little boy, or girl, hears the mother making comments about the father being another child, they're going to think it's okay. It is not okay. 
     And for you fathers and husbands out there who consistently act like a child, and I mean by not contributing and being a jackass, I'm not taking about the fathers who make fart jokes while washing the dishes or giggling whilst cutting the cheese during meal preparation, you are a part of the problem. Show your kids, and other kids, that you can cook, you can clean, and you can be a decent human being. Don't allow women to make comic asides about you ineptitude as an adult. It is not okay.

     So instead of just going on and on about the crappy male role models or lack of good male role models, I am now going to talk about the positive male role models I've had and ones I've seen. First of all, no one is perfect, including myself even though you, dear readers, think I am. The men I think about might not have been perfect but they try and tried to be decent human beings, and I know I owe a debt of gratitude to them. Some of the men that showed me what it means to be a man include: my Father; both my Grandfathers; my Uncles; my Scoutmaster, as well as a many of the scout leaders and parents; my middle school band directors; my middle school wrestling coaches; Mr. Stipa, my 7th grade history teacher, who believed in the use of force; the men of our church choir; my middle school theater director; my high school chorus director; one of the assistant principles at my high school; the first aquatics director at the first Y I worked at, many college professors; both in music and geography; the head boys counselor at NEMC when I was a counselor there; the captain of the first ship I worked on; 5.5 of the male school administrators I worked with; my friend Kevin who I miss dearly. The aforementioned people tended to be people older than me, who acted as mentors. I also admire and am eternally grateful to my brother and my brothers in law, my cousins, many of my friends, included but not limited to Phil and Nick and many others, to the men that are my son's scout leaders, and my friends. I think of the executive director of a local non-profit that runs a day care. He know the names of every kid in that center. He doesn't need to but he does and I respect him for that. The kids love him, too.

     So men, grow a pair and get out there and set a good example. Be positive, be involved. Our kids need you, now more than ever.

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