If you’re bringing up your children as a single mother, you may have concerns about the lack of positive male role models in their lives. This could be due to an absent or elusive father, or a present father who is more ‘hindrance than hero’, when it comes to leading by example.
Children need a variety of role models in their little worlds. Strong, positive people who shape how they behave, how they view the world, the friendships they form and the decisions they make. What they learn from these folks will essentially become the values that guide them now and throughout their lives.
“And it’s not just boys that need this positive paternal presence. A young girl’s experiences of interaction with men will create a deep-grained perception of the opposite sex. They learn what to expect from them, how they treat women and an understanding of their role in society.”
Yes, as single mothers we are perfectly capable of getting out there and kicking a ball. But if we really want to our children to have a positive male role model, short of marrying (the sadly already taken) Prince William, what else can we do?
FINDING POSITIVE MALE ROLE MODELS FOR YOUR CHILDREN
REQUEST MALE TEACHERS
For children in a female-dominated world, it’s refreshing to learn from a man. There is no doubt that men think (don’t get me started!) and teach differently. This not only creates a more diverse learning experience, but identifies males in the care-giving, educational role.
CHECK OUT THE OTHER DAD’S
Well, not literally! But if your child has a friend with a dad you approve off, then foster the friendship. The more time your child can spend in a home with a positive father figure, the more they will naturally learn the comfortable role of a male within a family unit.
CHOOSE SPORTS WITH MALE COACHES
This is where men really excel, so make sure you take advantage of it. And it’s about so much more than the sport in question. Male coaches often teach passionately about team work, focus and resilience. These skills are essentials in the tool kit of life, and will be taken far beyond the perimeter of the pitch.
Finding positive male role models for your children (cont.)
NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS WITH MALE RELATIVES
Ok, so Dad’s not doing his bit, but there may be uncles, cousins, grandfathers or stepfathers that can pick up the slack. Encourage these relationships with regular exposure and positive reinforcements. And try to step back to allow their rapport to develop without your well-meaning intervention.
CONSIDER MALE HELP AROUND THE HOME
Or in other words: hire a manny. Aka: A male nanny. They are all the rage in the States and the rest of the world is catching on. So if domestic help is a financial option for you, choosing a manny could be the perfect solution. A nanny, a role model and a lesson in role reversal in one tidy package.
CREATE A MIXED SEX SOCIAL WORLD
Look around you. Are all your friends’ female? If so, try (if possible) to create a more mixed social circle. No need to drag male strangers off the street. But you could nurture current male friendships. Allow your children to see healthy platonic companionship and understand that relationships with men don’t have to be intimate.
HUNT DOWN MALE MENTORS FOR EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Whatever your child’s interest, try to find a positive male mentor to assist them. Be it music, art, debating or anything in between. For males to be involved in activities that your budding enthusiast is passionate about will encourage a healthy understanding of equality and like-minded thinking between the sexes.
DISCOVER LOCAL ROLE MODEL PROGRAMMES
There are a number of programmes Australia-wide that offer male mentors to boys lacking a father figure. For example, The Uncle Project in Byron Bay, organises charity events and adventure activities allowing boys to mix with positive male role models, whilst raising awareness of single mother issues in their community. Hats off to this fabulous idea!