Thursday, March 18, 2010

Immature Men

Just a quick note to refer you to an interesting article. George Will wrote an article at Newsweek on immature men. You can read it here. It seems we have failed to teach men to be men. We are reaping the results. This is a both a great challenge and opportunity for the church.


Andrew Ceroni said...

It seems we have failed to teach men to be men.”

Indeed. When we males reach that turn in the road of our life’s journey where we can be assumed to have reached adulthood, obviously not the same as “manhood”, we are composite of the many traits we either consciously or subconsciously assimilated from those who had the most impact upon us along the way. Some good. Some not so good. And, some worse than that.

There was a time in America when the great majority of those traits that we ended up putting in our personality luggage and took with us psychologically on our journey came from our core family interaction… father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, favorite uncle, aunt, etc. The steady march of time to the splintering of the American family simultaneously with the growth of the two wage-earner adults per family began to change that, lessened the impact of those once closest to us in our lives. Sometimes, this was simply from benign neglect. Sometimes not so benign. (Note: As for Mom and Dad, there is much research literature suggesting that women in the workforce have come to suffer from the same lifestyle diseases once focused primarily on men, but in fact at higher disability rates. But this is another topic.) So, on their present day journeys, children look elsewhere for these conscious and subconscious role models.

To digress briefly by way of anecdotal reference, the authors Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswick, Levinson and Sanford of the 1,000 page study, The Authoritarian Personality, published in 1950, found child-rearing practices, childhood experiences, i.e., excessively harsh and punitive parenting in Germany explained why something like the Holocaust could happen in modern civilization. That is, how such a cluster of developed traits in the core family experience caused children to identify and in fact idolize authority figures… creating a “pre-fascist personality”. The focus of the study was how this led to “the willingness of the masses of people to tolerate the mass extinction of their fellow citizens.”

So, with the too often fragmented family of the present day American experience, the growth of distracting technology allowing self-indulgent behavior with no ready system of checks and balances, and the socio-cultural issues abounding in schools and towns, have fragmented values, the ideas, concepts and “rules of thumb” that 50 years ago we took as “givens”.

Can the Church help here? I think so. I hope so. For if the Church doesn’t help, then the personality traits of contemporary adulthood will come from places that will cause us later to shake our heads in dismay. Male “kids” of all ages seek something to grab onto that they like and can identify with, resulting in the assimilation of “good’ personality traits from good role models.

In 1896, a 31 year old Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem "IF". It's too long here, but it serves to many of the personality traits which if present in a young male, Kipling declared at the end of the poem, then:

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!"

Thanks for presenting the issue for thought.

Sarah said...

I couldn't get the link to work correctly, Mark, but, fellow readers, the title of the article is "The Basement Boys: the making of modern immaturity", which should help you find it. Good article... thanks!

Anonymous said...

Here's a working link:

Anonymous said...

I am glad that I read this. I agree very much that men are not successfully becoming mature, responsible figures, not only to their children, but to their wives and friends alike. I mean, with all of the men--married, adult men--who bring pornographic material into their homes, I am saddened and disgusted. This tells me that this "men failing to become men" issue has been going on for generations, each father unable to teach his son the proper respect for women and for himself. I think that this is an issue that will have to be rectified by a strong church community as well as by the role models in young males' lives. Thank you very much for this article.