My mom was a single parent, and raised four children alone; three of them were boys. I directly saw the effects of my brothers growing up without a father figure. My oldest brother had to quit school at the age of fifteen, and with a special permit went to work at the factory where my mother worked. He never got to experience high school or any of the growing-up years with friends and the fun times of his youth.
My two younger brothers did not have any positive male role models in their lives, so they quickly began to run around with the wrong crowd. In junior high, they were adversely influenced by a small-time gang in our hometown. Ironically, these same kids were previously their childhood friends. Things escalated seriously when the opposing gang did a drive-by shooting at our house.
The impact of that was significant enough that my mom and older brother had to move all of us away from that part of town, and transfer my two younger brothers into a new school, away from the gang violence. The impact of not having a male role model altered our lives significantly.
A positive male role model helps to influence better decision making. Boys learn respect for not only themselves but for all of those around them. In the case of their getting involved with gangs, my two younger brothers were quickly influenced by the devaluation of human life.
I challenge all men to serve as big brothers in their communities and to search for any opportunities to serve the young men in our society. Men hold power to shape and create a positive worldview for young boys. It takes men to step outside their own homes, and volunteer their time and efforts for other young boys. They need to be taught how to grow up and to have healthy relationships, along with learning the sanctity of life.
Sadly, I lost one of my brothers to alcoholism. He never fully recovered from growing up without a father figure. He consistently looked for ways to hide his pain and made bad choices throughout his shortened life. He is survived by a son and sadly since he never had a positive role model, he never learned the importance of being there for his son, either!
Please look in the mirror, and ask yourself how you can help shape a more positive view of young men in your immediate area. You can make a tremendous difference in their lives!
Photo credit: Getty Images
(via The Good Men Project)