If we do not provide a sacred role for our boys as they grow, they are more likely to join a gang, abuse their lovers, abandon their children, subsist in emotional isolation, and become addicted, hyper-materialistic, lonely, and unhappy. A boy needs structure and discipline in which to learn who he is. He needs to live a journey that has clear responsibilities and goals. He needs a role in life. Without these, without the role training that accompanies these, he does not know his sacred and important objectives in life.
Stephen J. Johnson, The Sacred Path: The Way of the Spiritual Warrior
Women have entered virtually every domain once dominated by men. And they are doing it well.
But there is one vitally important thing a man can do that a woman can’t—that a man must do that a woman can’t: Father!
By fathering I don’t mean procreating. I mean raising children. Being a dad. Pouring dad energy into a son or daughter. Boys and girls need that masculine energy from dad.
Since my particular focus is on boys I want to zero in on some of the unique gifts that only dad (or a man filling in for a missing dad) can offer his son:
Gift 1: The Blessing. The blessing is a key way that men pass the sacredness of manhood on to boys. God blessed Jesus prior to Jesus’ entry into his mission. That blessing propelled him, encouraged him, and carried him through the cross to the resurrection. Every son needs to hear from his dad (and other significant males): You are my son. I am proud of you!
Gift 2: Calling out a Boy’s Purpose: Certainly moms will do this, but not in the same way that a dad/man does. When dad sees the unique gifts in his son, when dad notices the sacred calling on his son’s life and calls it out of his son, the son finds himself energized with masculine energy. When dad calls out the sacred purpose in his son, his son will live heroically into it.
Gift 3: Sacred Masculine Energy. It takes a man to build a boy into a man. Women play a significant role in how a boy grows into manhood, but only a man can pour sacred masculinity into a boy. When a boy has been marked as a man by a man, when a boy has been empowered and blessed with sacred masculine energy, he is set on a course of greatness. A dad’s energy inspires a boy to noble action. And in this day where masculinity is often derided, boys need dad to mold and shape them with a good masculinity.
Many boys don’t have a dad to do this. We live in the most Father-less nation in the industrialized world. But other men can give boys these gifts and more. A wise mom will look for men to form her son into a man.
My friend, Michael Gurian, in his book, The Wonder of Boys, summarizes the uniqueness of a dad/man this way:
Every son wants from his father to gain a sense of mission in life and receive permission from an elder male to pursue that mission; to feel strong, loving masculine ground beneath his feet so that he will not, once he’s an adult, have to say to his wife, his children, or strangers, I don’t know what a man is, please teach me; to be challenged toward a vision of far away stars—impractical dreams and ambitions, that he may make, one day, possible; to learn what part of the sacred circle of human and spiritual life he will be responsible for; and to be mirrored by an intimate elder male and found, in that mirroring, to be a loving, wise, and powerful man.
Only a dad/man can do that.
Let’s get at it men! Let’s do it, dads!