The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.
I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.
—Naomi Shihab Nye
As a family therapist, I am interested in inviting and involving men to counselling sessions. I believe that men have a lot to say about their relationships with their partners and children. What has prevented them from being more active and participant in their family life perhaps has to do with social, cultural and historical realities and/or myths that affected men for many centuries.
I am going to share with you one of the important contributing factors that influence family members’ interactions and relationships with one another. This particular fact is ‘not growing up with a particular male figure like a father’.
Children with any family backgrounds (social and economic status, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation and ethnic backgrounds) are at risk of experiencing living and growing up without fathers. The important role of fathers in children’s life need to be more pronounced.
It is said our today men used to be fragile sensitive young boys. Men used to be young boys who lived in family and possibly experienced hardship, abuse, and disconnection. ‘Growing up without fathers’ has significant impact on young boys’ identity as a person.
Some families with children, who seek counselling, are concerned about their children’s emotional and behavioural and social wellbeing. When we talk about children’s difficulties, we often realize that parents’ personal and emotional difficulties play an important role on children’ social and emotional problems.
It is clear that the wellbeing of children is linked to the wellbeing of their parents; particularly, when children are young. Creating a safe and trusting environment for ‘fathers without fathers’ to speak about their experiences of hardship and difficulties is a key to supporting ‘fathers without fathers’ to re-connect with themselves and their children.
In our counselling sessions, ‘fathers without fathers’ shared the effects of dominant cultural myths/expectations on men and their roles in family. They expressed their experiences of disconnection, pressure, and confusion around their roles in relationships with other men as well as with women and children.
Men who shared their wisdom and challenges in our sessions were very enthusiastic about their part in changing the dominant cultural beliefs about men. They felt that initiating conversations in a safe environment is the first step to tackle this social problem. They expressed their willingness to support other men to become more comfortable with sharing and addressing their emotional social problems.
Their wisdom and knowledge were noted during our conversations. I got their permission to share with you some of their ideas that generated in our conversations. They are as follows:
▪ We, men, collectively need to challenge ‘superhero’ ideas about the role of men in family and adjust our expectations to make them more realistic and collaborative
▪ We, as a community of men, need to get together and dissect the dominant discourses about manhood which are supported by social and cultural beliefs
▪ We, men, need to encourage each other to work with our partners and utilize each other’s strengths instead of perpetuating male domination discourse.
▪ We, as a community, need to fund programs that address what ‘fathers without fathers’ experienced in the past, that support men to develop new relationships with themselves and others, and shape their identity as a person.
- We, men, are hopeful that our actions be beneficial to our children and make them more connected to themselves, their family members and their communities.
Hope our collective ideas and actions bring new possibilities to people’s lives!
‘Single mothers’ experience significant difficulties with raising their children alone, living without partners, and supporting their family financially, and so on. Here is the story of a single mother, Sue, who points out social problems that led to her current status in society as a single parent.
Sue came to my office to talk about the ‘stress’ that she had been experiencing for a few years. She talked about the responsibility of taking care of two children, 7 and 11, her full time job responsibility, and isolation as contributing factors to the ‘stress’. She felt it was very difficult to take care of and fulfill all the responsibilities alone.
Despite the reasons that lead to ‘single parenting’, we all know that ‘single parenting’ is not a desirable status for anyone in family; everyone in the family is affected by this phenomenon. For instance, children may grow up without fathers, mothers may take many responsibilities to fulfill family obligations; and fathers may experience further isolation and disconnection from their families and loved ones.
Sue shared the effects of ‘stress’ on her as a mother and as a person. She named the major source of ‘stress’ as the following: her responsibilities and family obligations, children’s lives and their education and their future. These have been significantly overwhelming to her. She was proud of herself to be able to provide a safe and violence- free environment for her children but she felt overwhelmed and exhausted by all responsibilities.
In one of our sessions, she questioned what society has been doing for men to address their personal concerns. We talked about the barriers for men to get help. We reviewed and reflected on the historical, cultural and social reasons that prevented men for many decades to avoid expressing themselves. We discussed the presence of invisible pressures, abuse and violence in young boys’ life and their effects on their adulthood.
Sue was very concerned about raising her two sons without father; she was afraid of the negative effects of not having any particular male figure in their lives.
We explored some pragmatic practical solutions to address her children’s needs. However, we acknowledged that she was voicing a very important concern in our society and her problems weren’t only hers. Those concerns are, as a matter of fact, our social problems. She said her dream is to increase social awareness and address this predicament socially.
I would like to share with you some ideas that we explored in our meetings as possible ways of preventing the expansion of ‘single parenting’ in our society. They are as follows:
▪ De-stigmatize and encourage men to ask for help when needed
▪ Support men to repair and develop ‘trust’ in their intimate relationships
▪ Support ‘fathers without father’ and assist them with their personal social concerns
▪ Promote non- patriarchal ways of connecting with women
▪ Discussion on equality and its impact on relationships between men and women
▪ Promote both genders to learn how to respond to one another in a non- confrontational and non- aggressive ways
▪ Support both genders resolve conflicts/ disagreements peacefuly
▪ Increase both genders’ understanding of their personal power and ethics
▪ and more …
Please share if you have some ideas in this regrad.
Hope to create a new pathway to healthy, connecting and trusting relationships!
As you may know, i do photography and appreciate good photos. I came across this link and liked the collection of beautiful powerful photos from past to present. Take a watch:
What has to be done to save our environment? What could and/or should be done to protect our environment? Why don’t our officials pay attention to the importance of the mother earth and her health?
This is a beautiful footage, a series of photos and a strong message to all of us to be more mindful of what happens to our mother earth. In remembering those who lost their lives to make a difference!
I wanted to share a story with you for the beginning of the new year…
“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. When I couldn’t change my town, then as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now as an old man I realized the only thing I can change is myself. Suddenly I realized that if I long ago had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. And their impact could have changed the nation. And I could indeed have changed the world.” ~ Unknown Monk (1100CE)
Let’s change ourselves, our views and attitudes towards others. Let’s be more kind to our weaknesses and be more appreciative of our strengths. Let’s learn how to connect with one another in a way that doesn’t produce harm; let’s satisfy our needs and wants in a way that doesn’t intrude/violate others’ presence; let’s have more awareness; let’s be at peace with self and others…
One of the most empowering tools we have in life is our own example.
If you would like to get to know yourself more , become more aware of your inner resources and have more impact on your relationships, contact me for further conversations. Looking forward to hearing from you,
In these very early days of the new year, let’s plan to be more mindful of what we do for our next generation; let’s be more considerate of others’ well being; let’s be more thoughtful of what we do for ourselves and others.
Wish Everyone a Great Productive Creative Year!
Happy 2012 🙂