While many would think efforts to model such characteristics and skills as the aforementioned ones are praiseworthy, Shaljean has met with some resistance. As she explains, many of the young boys in the program come from homes headed by grandmothers, single mothers, or same sex parents. Because of the ultra-sensitivity of society, the implication that these boys are at a disadvantage is not always well-received.
I’ve taught a weekly, inner-city preschool class for some years now. Currently, the class make-up is one-quarter girls and three-quarters boys.
Two members of this boy monopoly are a particularly dynamic duo, known for their grand (i.e. loud) entrances, boisterous singing, and penchant for asking to use the bathroom at the most inconvenient times. They also adore a fellow teacher of mine, whom they fondly greet with a flying tackle and joyous “Benjermin!” every time they see him.
Their fondness for “Benjermin” speaks to something many little boys need: a responsible, father-like figure to whom they can look up to and learn from.
Unfortunately, many young boys don’t have such a figure in their lives. This fact was recently observed by Sonia Shaljean, a UK woman who started the organization “Lads Need Dads” as a way to fight the “void of masculinity” present in today’s society.
Shaljean believes that matching fatherless boys with mentors, who then teach them the skills they fail to learn due to an absent father, will help to set many young men on the path to success. Shaljean explains how this works:
We unashamedly teach bloke [manly] skills: DIY, car and bike maintenance, carpentry, bush craft, fishing, plus T-shirt printing, DJ sessions, self defence, cooking and first aid. They need to be able to look after themselves down the line.