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Political Issues This forum is for discussing the political aspects of divorce: reform to divorce laws, men's rights, women's rights, injustices in the divorce system, etc.

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Old 06-17-2006, 01:26 PM
Decent Dad Decent Dad is offline
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Default Mary-Ellen Lang says kids need strong men role models

We need more Tarzans in the classroom

CBC News Viewpoint | June 16, 2006 | More from Mary-Ellen Lang

Mary-Ellen Lang delights in being a mom, grandma, writer, teacher, gardener, and equestrian, usually in about that order. She has been teaching since 1972, and writing since 1980. Two of her three (award winning, Young Adult) novels are published in many languages in Europe, the USA and Canada.


Sometimes it's as interesting to watch an audience as it is a performance. I'll never forget the time I was in a movie theatre to watch Tarzan with my son the artist.
Before the movie started, a row of rowdy young teenage boys three rows in front of us was annoying everyone with their coltish antics. Why they were there, no one could imagine, but there they were. The movie started; the story quickly drew us in. It drew me in because it was pressing hard on all my mother buttons. A mother gorilla's baby was killed. She rescued the infant Tarzan, who quickly grew into a spunky and brave little person despite rejection by the alpha male gorilla. Also, the art was fantastic and the dialogue was clever. It was not hard getting me to buy into Tarzan.

What fascinated me was the reaction of the kids three rows up. They got quieter and quieter. Slumped in their seats, they were spellbound. When the show was over, they stayed where they were, silent and still.

I'm sure they responded to the movie's very powerful male situation and message. The struggle between the alpha male to do his job — to protect this family — and Tarzan, whose most basic need was to find out who he was and fit in somewhere, drove the plot, as conflicts always do, and engaged the boys.

For one thing, Disney's Tarzan is decidedly masculine in its situations, action and themes. Finally, after years of little mermaids and princesses, the boys have a protagonist they can relate to. He beats his chest, roars and plunges off cliffs.

Starved for father figures

But I suspect that at a deeper level, the movie Tarzan speaks to boys about a gnawing problem so many of them face in today's world, perhaps more than ever before. I suspect that legions of boys (and girls) are starved for male involvement and approval in their lives. A story centred around a powerful male's stubborn refusal (or inability) to accept or acknowledge the young boy and the youngster's desperate attempts to win his approval hits lots of kids where they live.

There are lots of reasons so many children lack a father figure in their lives. I'm sure you've heard them all many times. Apart from death, divorce, disappearance or disinterest, political correctness inhibits us now from even mentioning that a lack of men in the lives of children is serious and sad. We're all supposed to hold hands and skip off to the wonderland of genderless equality.

Well, humbug.

I would like to suggest for one thing that most of the bad-boy behaviour we see in schools would be alleviated by positive connections to committed men. When a troubled boy is taken under the wing of a caring man who pays attention to and values him, the chances of that boy developing more healthy attitudes and behaviours increase dramatically.

In schools, boys and girls are in desperate need of men. There are lots of caring, nurturing, effective women teachers and they are worth their weight in gold. Schools would collapse overnight without them. Still, for lots of kids, a dose of masculine energy, style, outlook and inclination would be a more than welcome relief.

A life-changing influence

So many kids arrive at school poverty-stricken when it comes to parents. For those who lack a mother figure, there are lots of women who can meet this need on some level or another. Even a pat on the head and an inquiry into last night’s sleep may be appreciated by a young person. For those who do not get enough fathering in their lives (maybe dad isn’t there or maybe he’s too busy), the men they encounter in school can be a life-changing influence.

One of the best years one of my sons had in school was Grade 7. His life in school up to that time had been dismal and dominated by some very good, albeit female, teachers. (I can see I could get into trouble here). Anyway, he needed a man. Pure and simple. No disrespect intended, but another woman was not what I thought he needed. I went to the middle school to which he was headed with a shopping list. I wanted my son to have a good-humoured, no-nonsense, structured but flexible, wise, calm, high-energy and intelligent male teacher. Did they have one? They did.

My son blossomed in school that year. He desperately needed a man in his life and there was one, waiting at his desk every morning for the high-strung pubescent hordes to arrive. I will be eternally grateful.

Men who bring their confident, masculine enthusiasm for life to a school enrich kids in ways that only they can. Men who are willing to connect with children, to recognize, value and encourage them, are doing a necessary job. Men who choose, as does Tarzan, to commit everything they are to those who need them play a powerful role in the good order and health of society.

Good men who go into teaching can be assured they will be important in ways they cannot imagine and have a profound and lasting effect on generations of people.
Old 06-18-2006, 10:00 AM
logicalvelocity logicalvelocity is offline
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Decent dad,

Great article.

I have to comment, Mary-Ellen Lang stance is supported by modern empiracal child development research. It is nice to see people advocating this principle.

Old 06-21-2006, 12:59 PM
Denisem Denisem is offline
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Default Mentors

Every child should have a mentor! Girls and boys need role models.
Mentoring is about the power of friendship. Children who experience the magic of everyday moments when they are shared with an adult friend are more likely to feel better about themselves, have improved self-confidence, have a better sense of right and wrong, show improved school grades, have a better school attendance record, develop better relationships with their teacher, and get along better with other kids. Everyone needs someone to laugh with, share dreams and just hangout... with friends it's the little things that mean the most.

For single parent families there are organization that provides mentors to children. I work for Big Brothers Big Sisters we have many programs for children and youth. We are just one organization, there are others and I highly recommend such agencies.

For more info here is our website
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