Mrs. Shanahan on the lack of Catholic military chaplains with Australian forces in Afghanistan
Dr. Biddulph on parenting
Interesting to read that interview with the N.S.W. same-sex adoption Bill in mind. Here are some excerpts:
By almost every social indicator – self-esteem, educational achievement, law abidance – children seem to do better when a father is present. Why is this the case?
Fathers show boys how to be good men. They share the workload. They are fun. They make mothers feel more secure and relaxed. A good man is a huge benefit. Of course, a bad man is worse than none at all. But if a man is safe and reliable, and willing to learn and try, he will almost always be a plus for his son.
Fathers matter hugely in the development of girls as well, because they give a girl confidence around males. It’s the simple things that achieve this, such as walking the dog together, playing a ball game, helping with homework. He sends a powerful message to his daughter that she is interesting and worthwhile. Girls who are close to their dads get involved with boys later, and show better judgement when choosing partners. They are generally more confident and do better at school and work.
In The New Manhood you write that whenever a boy seems unmotivated, at home or at school, look to a lack of male role models as the cause. Why do boys become so easily unstuck without good role models?
Because they don’t see any adult that they want to emulate. A well-raised young person is like a collection of all the great people they have spent time with. Peer groups often only really pass on their own emptiness. We need to see people like us, but further along. You can’t become a good man unless you have spent time around good men. You can’t learn patience, kindness, courage or even love, unless you have seen it and known it in someone else.
Fathers need to join other fathers, especially when their sons are in their mid-teens, and go camping, fishing, and to the beach. By getting away for a few nights with the kids they will have the opportunity to meet other men who are doing great things in the world like building, healing and teaching. Teenagers can then talk to other fathers and develop ideas about manhood. [...]
A loving and focused mother can get a boy “almost to wholeness”, you write in The New Manhood. But the one thing she cannot teach is “how to be a man”. What does “being a man” amount to in a 17 or 18-year-old male?
By this age a young man should have been initiated into manhood. In The New Manhood we look at schools and communities that are actively doing this. It isn’t just the ritual or mystery that helps, but the message that is crucial: a man looks out for others. A man knows life is sometimes hard and he works withothers to protect life. Boys rise to the heroism of that, instead of the dumb heroism of drink-drivingor gang involvement. The energies are the same, but are redirected for good. [...]
So what can we do [about the problems affecting young women today]?
Well, don’t buy fashion magazines for your ten-year-old – or yourself. And don’t leave the TV running all the time; just watch programs you have chosen. But the big thing is that women have disappeared from the lives of girls. Girls get only a quarter of the mothering, and “auntying” from other women, that they used to. It is older women who help girls to gain a perspective on boys and realise that their ideas and actions matter more than their hairstyle. Parents with a strong relationship with their child are in a better position to give them good self-esteem and belief in themselves beyond looks or fashion. [...]
[bold type and italics in the original, my square-bracketed
Just one this week:
Learning to be a Minister: Heroic Expectations, Practical Realities
By Anne Tiernan and Patrick Weller
Melbourne University Publishing, 351pp, $39.99
WITH a new government in office this book is already out of date, despite some of its research being barely a year old. But this does not matter because, while the names have changed, the functions described stay the same. And what fascinating functions they are. This is a field guide to what occurs in the corridors of power, where ministers and mandarins intersect, where the way we are governed is decided. This is a must for anybody interested in where the real work of politics occurs. Perhaps the egotism and exhaustion of the minister and staff, and the suspicion they share of public servants, could be clearer but the authors are experts on the Australian system of ministerial government, and it shows.