We hear a lot about the importance of female role models for girl’s self-esteem. We critique female celebrities for their lack of self-respect, claiming it sets a bad example for our daughters, young sisters and female young ones. Yet, we rarely talk about the importance and subsequent lack of male role models. I want to address this issue today.
Why We Need Male Role Models:
1) We need male role models for males
Teen males especially are lacking other strong, moral and intelligent men to look up to. In fact, many parents email me with questions about their troubled teen boy who is dabbling in drugs, partying and procrastination. They ask about boot camps, counselors and groundings. These are viable options, but all second choices to finding a male role model to talk to. Younger male role models in their 20’s can have more success in relating to teens and kids, but older role models can also do the trick. Close family members (dad, brother) are great on a daily basis, but outside friends or distant families can be better in crisis (cousins, uncles, coaches, neighbors).
2) We need male role models for females
We cannot underestimate the power of male role models for females. I have been to many wonderful self-esteem and girl workshops and they are usually run by women. While this is a wonderful way for girls to relate to women, it is also important for them to see how respectful strong men can be to the girls and themselves. When girls see this, they know they can pick a man (and raise men) later in life with high moral and intellectual standards. They also see that respect is a universal issue, not just a female one.
3) We need them to be famous
There is an underlying notion for boys that when you are a male with money, success or fame you do not need to be a good person. We see famous or successful male celebrities who treat their own bodies and other people with disrespect. There are a few great famous male role models, but they are becoming few and far between and as a society we do not put emphasis on them. We do not typically reward those celebrities with buying more of their CDs or talking about their shows. We give them the same amount of attention as poor celebrity role models.
4) We need them not to be famous
On the flip side, we also need male role models who are not famous. We need men who are reachable, attainable and highly visible to the younger males in our lives. The average person only sees a small glimpse of a male celebrity’s life (or PR campaign), where as people we know can demonstrate to their younger male counter parts how respect and morals dictate all areas of their life—love, work and play.
5) We need to need them
We do not talk about how much we need male role models. I am trying to put more of an emphasis on male role models in my writing and when I give advice. I truly think that having strong men in the lives of teen and young boys could be a wonderful motivator and help.
I also know a few great men who do not know how to reach out to teen boys in their lives (younger cousins, nephews, friend’s kids) although they are open to doing so. I encourage everyone reading to think about the strong male figures in your life and introduce them to a younger teen or boy as a mentorship friendship.