Why a Fatherly Approach is Necessary in Male Adult Friendships
It is awkward but true: the average Kenyan (read African) man grows up with hardly any relationship with his father. Either he is too busy earning a living to spend time with his son, or he is completely absent (by choice, incarcerated or dead). This absence impacts the lives of young men as they come of age in different ways, more often negatively than otherwise. They struggle with issues of identity, self-esteem and inter-personal relationships, especially with women who come into their lives and their own children. And then, this is passed on to the next generation. It is a vicious cycle. Can a make-over in adult male friendships help remedy the crisis? Keep reading to find out why I think it can.
The role of a father
A child’s emotional well-being has more to do with its relationship with its father than with anyone else. A father’s role as protector, disciplinarian and mentor are also key to the development of a young man into a responsible adult. The absence of a father figure to fulfill these roles plunges a young man into turmoil.
The identity crisis
Boys typically model themselves after their fathers. They spend their lives trying to please their fathers, seeking validation. Regardless of what their fathers are like, they unconsciously copy them. So, if a father is hardworking and loving toward his family, his sons naturally copy such virtues. Conversely, violent or abusive fathers unconsciously raise a new generation of violent, abusive men. In a father’s absence, a boy is plunged into confusion. He lacks a stable source of identity. He attempts to model after every man who comes into his life, be it his uncles, mother’s male friends or teachers. An identity crisis surely ensues.
The influence of male adult friendships
The young man who comes of age without a sense of identity remains vulnerable indefinitely. He is susceptible to peer-influence, both positive and negative. Unfortunately, negative peer-influence is more likely to impact his life. After a lifetime of chasing after validation from anyone and everyone, a vulnerable man will go to any lengths to prove himself to his friends. If it takes drinking himself silly, so be it. If it means treating women like trash, so be it. If leaving a trail of fatherless kids and bitter baby-mamas is the norm in his circles, he surely follows in the footsteps.
The hands-off-, blind-eye-brotherhood
While friendships are expected to be havens of positive collective growth, I strongly believe that male adult friendships could be better. Their foundation on detachment from each other’s personal lives and a near-taboo expression of emotions is detrimental to individual growth. A revision of the “rules” could certainly improve the quality of male adult friendships.
“Your personal life is yours. Get your shit together, bro.”
“You are cheating on your wife, man. But that’s none of my business.”
“Don’t be a pussy. Suck it up!”–Men around the world
You have certainly heard at least one or a variation of these statements. They describe everything that is wrong with male adult friendships.
How a fatherly approach can help right the wrongs
My fatherly brother: my protector
“You can count on me to prevent you from making foolish decisions, financial or otherwise. You can trust that I will protect you from indulging in drugs, crime and impulsive mistakes.”
My fatherly brother: my mentor
“Life is hard, I know, but you can rest assured that we are in this together. I will always have your back. I will hold your hand until you get out of the mud. I will counsel you and strive to provide the best guidance. I strive to live a good life because I know you look up to me for inspiration.”
My fatherly brother: my disciplinarian
“I will make your personal life my business, because I care about you. I will call out the messes you make and advise you to make things right. I will not turn a blind eye to your wrong-doings, because I know that they will damage innocent people’s lives and change them forever.”
How else do you think male adult friendships can be improved? Let me know in the comments section below.