As Father’s Day has come and gone perhaps it is time for a less sentimental look at modern masculinity.
There has been plenty of discussion recently about men in crisis (the BBC Panorama programme ‘Jobs for the Boys’ springs to mind); or men without a role; or men being absent (the Centre for Social Justice believes there are seemingly ‘men deserts’ in some wards in cities like Liverpool, where men do not feature in the lives of families).
The Guardian columnist Tim Lott even wondered if boys and men had a second class status in society. He contrasted the parenting style of Atticus Finch (the decent father-figure from Harper Lee’s classic Jim Crow era novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’), with Homer Simpson (Springfield’s inept but good-hearted nuclear power plant employee, husband to Marge and father to Maggie, Lisa and Bart).
I’m not sure whether the comparison stands up to close scrutiny (the stakes in Lee’s novel are life and death, whereas life in Matt Groening’s town is less fraught). There is though a point to be made about contemporary masculinity, especially as economic and social pressures bear down on everyone.
What kind of support might a man want if he aspired to improve his working life and personal relationships?
The coaching instinct would be to establish what this man’s core values were (the ones from which he mainly operates – whether that is making money; being top dog; or having the latest expensive toys) and how those values interact with the way he lives his life.
Making sure there was congruency between values and life, he might choose to be:
– More even handed in dividing his time commitments between work and family or social life.
– More even tempered, pausing to assess the appropriate step to take, as opposed to acting thoughtlessly.
– More likely to express himself having successfully reflected on whether the issue in front of him would matter much in a week, a month, or a year.
Given the tough times everyone is going through, and the straitjacket many men wear, we certainly have our work cut out. Perhaps some coaching support could help many of us accomplish more, with greater ease.