Monday, August 20, 2007

"Where are the Men?"

I am certainly not one to proactively grant the Toronto Star any compliments, but when you are right you are right.

Over the weekend, the Red Star published THIS story, which details the negative effects fatherless families are having in some of the more disadvantaged neighborhoods. Its good to see the Star acknowledge that broken homes is a much larger problem than most of our leaders recognize.

For those David Miller-types who can't get a handgun ban press release out fast enough each time another person dies on the streets of Toronto, here are some sobering statistics:

"Kids, especially boys, seek moral guidance from their fathers, and a myriad of studies have shown fatherless youths turn to crime. A seminal report, presented nine years ago at an American Sociological Association convention, tracked 6,000 males, ages 14-22, from 1978 to 1993 to reveal that when fathers aren't present in the home, youths are twice as likely to end up in jail. "

But strangely enough, even when confronted with this reality, people like David Miller - who never met a root cause he didn't like - seem to think its just a strange coincidence. During last year's "Summer of the Gun", Miller insisted that single-parent families don't factor into violence, claiming he was raised by a single mother and "turned out just fine" (subjective, to be sure).

We spend so much time celebrating diversity and all the different forms a family can take, we don't spend time talking about how important the nuclear family is. Yes, two mommies etc aren't fatal to a child's development, but a mother and a father is optimal.

Now, I don't claim to have the slightest bit of understanding how hard life can be for kids growing up in neighborhoods like Jane and Finch. My life is easy by comparison, to be sure. But even in my experiences, it was my father who taught me how to be a man, how to treat women and how to handle responsibility. People say I'm a good father. Thank my Dad - he taught me how to parent, even just be example.

When I was younger and starting to get into trouble, it was the spectre of my father that kept me on the straight and narrow. I respected him and knew I didn't want to let him down. Besides, as 6'4", he can be a little intimidating. Women have a lot to bring to the table in terms of raising a child, but to really teach a man how to be a man, you need a father. Period. Sure, you can come out alright - many children raised by single mothers do - but you better hope you're raising your children in a positive environment. When you have powerful cultural and social forces working against you - where gangs, guns and drugs are a constant seduction - you need a counterbalancing positive influence.

Men need to step up to the plate and start raising their kids. And we as a society need to shame deadbeats who run out on their kids as what they are - cowards and bums.

As Laurence Fishburne said in Boyz In the Hood: Any idiot can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children.

Oh, and here is a positive example of a popular rap artist trying to promote this idea.

This is Lupe Fiasco's "He Said, She Said". You should watch it, even if you're not into rap music.

Its an important message, and kudos to him for trying to make a difference in a industry not known for promoting responsibility.

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