How ‘dad deprivation’ could be eroding modern society
One of the world’s most respected campaigners on men’s issues believes “dad deprivation” is directly causing what he’s termed “the boy crisis” – and unless society urgently intervenes, we will be in danger of writing off a generation of men.
This Saturday, Warren Farrell – pioneering men’s activist, author of The Myth Of Male Power and a mentor who once coached John Lennon – will give a hugely-anticipated keynote speech at Male Psychology Conference in London.
Farrell believes modern society is being tangibly eroded by dad deprivation – through increased relationship breakdown, family courts that favour mothers, and fathers denied access to their children after a separation.
“Dad-deprived boys are less likely to display empathy, be less assertive, depressed, have nightmares, talk back and be disobedient,” says Farrell, 72.
“At age nine, girls and boys commit suicide in equal numbers, but boys are twice as likely aged 14, four times more likely aged 15-19, and five times more by age 20-25. This is the time when dads drift out of their lives”.
Some of Farrell’s proposed solutions are radical, such as increasing the numbers of male teachers in schools – by state legislation if necessary.
“We need a major overhaul of education system, especially in inner cities where we know dad deprivation is higher,” he says.
“These boys have no positive male role models. That makes them vulnerable to strong, destructive alpha males like gang leaders or drug dealers.”
“These boys are also most likely to be brought up by mums, then move from a mother-centered home to a woman-centered school.
“Boys need to see males caring at every stage of their lives. So we need more male teachers, period. I’d say equal amounts at least, although, in areas where there are 70 per cent single mothers, why not have 70 per cent male teachers?
“We need to encourage men into the caring sectors, to challenge the cliché that caring work is women’s work”.
Farrell also urges dads not to willingly abandon their children, which he sees as a dereliction of duty.
“Men should not withdraw like cowards,” he says. “To an eight-year-old boy, their dad is God. Backing off or abandoning them leaves the child feeling not important. Dads must fight to be a part of their children’s lives, especially if the mother blocks that”.
Here, Farrell urges separating parents to park their own differences.
Boys need to see males caring at every stage of their lives. So we need more male teachers, period. I’d say equal amounts at least ~
“Allowing dads in helps both the boy and the mother, as the child will be easier to manage for her as sole carer,” he says. “Data shows divorced mums are five times more likely to bad mouth dads than dads do mums.
That to me is child abuse: not by intent, but by outcome. It makes the boy feel that when he’s a dad, he will be a second class citizen. It makes him hesitant to have kids himself as he won’t be respected”.
Above all, Farrell believes we need to preach that fatherhood is the ultimate reward, one that outweighs money or success.
“Fatherhood is about passing on character, which is the most empowering and gratifying feeling,” he says. “We should celebrate gentle, caring, loving values in men; not just power, but responsibility”.
Symptoms can include:
· Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
· Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
· Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
· Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
· Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
· Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
· Trouble sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
· Appetite and/or weight change
· Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
· Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain, which do not respond to routine treatment
As well as Farrell’s keynote address, there are a host of other renowned speakers at the Male Psychology Conference. Above all, its organizers are campaigning for a men’s branch of the British Psychological Society to shatter what they call “male gender blindness” to men’s mental health care. They are now just 70 signatures short of the 500 they need.
Organisers Martin Seager and John Barry point out that 80% of clinical psychologists are female, and with a mere 19% of current psychology undergraduates being men, that gender imbalance looks set to remain.
“Men are less likely to seek therapy than women, and are more likely to prefer a male therapist, yet there are far fewer male therapists than female,” Barry says.”This begs the question of whether having more male therapists might help lower the male suicide rate”.
The Male Psychology Conference is Friday 24th and Saturday 25th June 2016 at University College London. Tickets, with a 50% discount, can be bought from malepsychology.org.uk