The dictionary defines a role model as “a person whose behavior, example or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.” Ideally, parents are good role models for children who learn to adapt their responses to all things by imprinting upon their parents and learning by osmosis.
In her book “The Absorbent Mind,” famed educator Dr. Maria Montessori said, “The child absorbs knowledge directly into his psychic life.” She followed, “Impressions do not merely enter his mind, they form it.” Montessori put great emphasis on the importance of learning and bonding in the first six years of life.
Almost 25 percent of America’s children live in mother-only families, and of those children, 35 percent never see their father and 24 percent see their father less than once a month. In lieu of a dad at home, a boy in need of guidance on the road to becoming a man finds his role models on TV, in movies and on the street, all areas with an abundance of violence and crime.
The poem “Children Learn What They Live” by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D., could be an anthem for fatherless boys or those with absent fathers. An at-home dad who engages positively with a son and his mother is a behavior blueprint for his son, teaching actively or by example respect, boundaries, the camaraderie of sports, the benefit of academic achievement, the do’s and don’ts of drugs and alcohol, taking care of pets, respect for women and necessary life skills such as using tools and mowing the lawn.
A boy with an absent father can easily fall prey to peer pressure and begin to use drugs or alcohol, which can lead to substance abuse or dependence. Even in homes where a father is present, the average dad spends less than ten minutes a day one-on-one with his son. Fathers who themselves had poor male role models may not have the ability to be a good example.
The involvement of a positive male role model teaches a boy to relate well with others, take initiative, practice self-control and help others. A teen boy who is in recovery from substance abuse and has an absent father needs a male mentor he can admire and learn from.
Following are some ways to provide help for recovering teens in need of a role model:
- Mothers can source positive male role models for their sons
- Absent dads can visit more frequently and spend time teaching life lessons to their sons
- Schools can encourage dads to help in the classroom
- Church-based programs can foster father and son events
- Businesses can encourage employees to work with Boy Scouts, Big Brothers, youth groups and Boys Clubs
Bringing up a child well may be one of the greatest responsibilities a person can have, and a job well done can have ripple effects on future generations. A son who learns from a loving father will pass those lessons on to his own children. An inheritance of a healthy and loving example is worth far more than material things.
White River Academy is a licensed, accredited residential treatment center for male adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 with behavioral problems. We provide an academic curriculum with experiential activities, community service and therapeutic programming to help boys become the men they were meant to be.
If you would like further information, please call our 24/7 helpline.