What is the most effective way to fight global poverty? That is the question people all around the world have been asking for decades. Some commonly known solutions include building wells to provide people with clean water, teaching farmers how to grow more food, building schools and small medical clinics, and giving communities access to shelter and vaccinations. But did you know that the solution could be as simple as ensuring the presence of positive male role models in children’s lives? Recent studies support this claim and discuss opportunities for youth to connect with positive male role models in their communities.
According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 1 in 4 children in the United States grow up without father figures in their households. This is equivalent to 19.7 million children in the country. These children are 4 times more likely to experience poverty and 2 times more likely to drop out of school. They are also more likely to commit crimes and go to prison, consume drugs and alcohol, become victims of abuse and violence, and experience depression and other mental illnesses. These consequences are likely to continue into adulthood and impact future generations of these families. The importance of male role models in children’s lives cannot be understated.
How Can Parents Help?
There are many ways to connect children with positive male role models:
- Encourage children to get involved in extracurriculars like sports with a male coach or mentor. Many of these coaches and mentors dedicate their time because they are passionate about working with children. This passion will inevitably captivate youth and help them grow into better people.
- Expand social circles to include positive men in the community. This can include distant family members, a kind-hearted neighbor or the father of a child’s friend. It’s that easy!
- Request male teachers for children at school. This will not only allow the child to see men in their community in typically nurturing, female-dominated roles, but it will also expose them to teaching styles that may differ from those of their female teachers.
- Research initiatives that aim to connect children to positive male role models in the community. There are so many people who are excited to work with children. All it takes is a simple Google search!
Examples of Initiatives
- An initiative that helps connect children to male role models in their communities is the Uncle Project in Australia. As part of this project, men in the community volunteer their time to interact with boys ages 6 through 12 through sports, board games and treasure hunts as well as dinner discussions in which they delve into deep and meaningful topics. This inevitably helps young boys grow into better men.
- Another related organization is the National Fatherhood Initiative, which helps fathers become better parents. In addition to training 34,815 fathers and distributing 9,407,021 skill-building resources, it has helped similar organizations reach more people across the United States.
- There is also the annual Fathers Walk in Ohio, in which fathers are encouraged to walk their children to school and spend the day participating in fun-filled activities with their children. If a parent is unavailable because of work, they are encouraged to find an alternative male role model to take their place. This helps children spend time with and learn from positive men in their community.
The findings of these studies and information about how parents can surround their children with positive male role models in their communities aim to enlighten readers about the important role of men in the lives of children. These role models will not only slow the spread of poverty but will also help young boys become successful and healthy men.
– Rida Memon