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A challenge for men: raising happier sons

By Peter West - posted Thursday, 6 April 2017


God gives little girls a special gift - this is how Dad thinks, and this is how I can get him to listen.

But what about if it's a son? Boys feel they can't plead and turn on the water-works. It comes out as: "I need to borrow the car"…"My mates are going to the footy, Dad- I have to go too".

Do women understand men?

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Research by Brizendine says that men and women have a deep misunderstanding of the biological and social instincts that drive the other sex:

As women, we may love men, live with men and bear sons, but we have yet to understand men and boys. They are more than their gender and sexuality, and yet it is intrinsic to who they are.

So a mother might ask "What's going on?" with father and son, and scratch her head. Medical writers say men lack "feeling" words and are poor communicators. We have alexithymia, or a lack of emotional language. We grunt, yell at each other, slam doors.

You have a son and this hasn't happened? Well give it time….

Now ask yourself: am I going to be a Dad who's really present ? Or will I be 'missing in action "in my son's life? Recent disputes show that men- like women, to some extent- are having difficulties balancing work, health and family. But we need to make it work. So let's start to suggest some ideas.

WHAT DADS CAN DO

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1. Show your son that you love him. Give him a hug, a hand on the shoulder; whatever feels right. Males usually trust a man who makes contact. Some young guys do a kind of shoulder hug, pulling me towards them. See what your son likes.

2. Listen! Research says that boys feel adults usually "don't ask, and don't listen".We're raised as males to DO: "Thomas was a very useful tank engine". Dad, you need to be ready for your son. As you're driving home, get your head ready for him: you can talk about your day at work some other time. It won't always be easy. But turn him away when he most needs you, and you'll be hearing "bloody Dad- he never listens to me!".

3. Talk person-to-person. Find ways to get him talking as you interact while you- rake the lawn together, walk the dog, ride in the car. Your son does chores, yes? That's an important part of learning to be a man, and you're helping him as he goes.

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About the Author

Dr Peter West is a well-known social commentator and an expert on men's and boys' issues. He is the author of Fathers, Sons and Lovers: Men Talk about Their Lives from the 1930s to Today (Finch,1996). He works part-time in the Faculty of Education, Australian Catholic University, Sydney.

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