Monday, June 10, 2024

Male love: The importance of a father/son bond

July 24, 2007 by  
Filed under Health, News, Weekly Columns

( I saw a kiss that changed my outlook on life. Now I don’t typically go around watching other people kiss but there was something about this one that was just special. What was even more amazing is that every time I witness this type of display I admit that I experience the same emotion. It’s the moment when a father leans in to embrace and kiss his son. That melts my heart every time.

When boys are young, it is easy for society to accept the tenderness with which fathers interact with their sons. On any given day it’s easy to find a father and son at school events, shopping malls or even their place of worship. Who wouldn’t smile at a dad throwing a ball to his son or helping his little one climb up the sliding board?

As a parent, dads are equally invested in the emotional support of their kids and when a need is indicated such as an accident on a playground, for example, dads comfort their sons with love and affection and everyone around is in agreement that this is good. What is amazing, however, is that during the course of a boy’s childhood this same affection becomes almost downright unacceptable.

New Orleans Police Officer Landries Jackson, Sr. refuses to let society dictate how he is to raise his kids. And as an African-American man, he is especially sensitive to the needs of his son as he teaches him to grow into a man. Despite his 17 years with the NOPD, he guards fatherhood as his most dangerous assignment because their lives and future successes are on the line.

His strategy includes strict discipline, leading by example, consistency in effort, and excellence from start to finish and a never-ending supply of love.

“Affection between father and son is similar to God giving us the Holy Spirit. We have something to lead and guide us. Also, it helps us to regulate ourselves. Through affection, sons learn how to impart affection properly,”? Jackson, said.

So why is it then that an otherwise wholesome affection has become so stigmatized?

It seems that there are numerous things that are different in society from our parents’ upbringing until now. One major difference is the overall structure of the family.

For over 50 years we have always loved “Black Love.” That is the ideal of a man and woman working together side by side to raise families and make a positive mark on the world. That’s what we all wanted. We each have stories of visiting our grandparents and how they didn’t even argue anymore. They were simply operating in love. Well today that isn’t exactly the picture we see. An increasing number of children are born to parents who are not married. Although this does not suggest that kids cannot be just as nourished in this situation it does make it challenging when custody or visitation agreements can’t be met. As a result, the bonds that are formed early on are engulfed in hurt and confusion. In that atmosphere, a father kissing a son carries an odd connotation and so it is very often non-existent in both childhood and adulthood.

Another reason for the stigma and restraint of father/son affection is a combination of presentation within cultural sensitivity. Even though there are some cultures that freely kiss on the check, hug or even bow as a sign of respect to their elders, historically, the African American culture has not done this. Our culture has always encouraged strength and masculinity for our sons. With an increase in overall tolerance for same sex relationships, the very hint of affection between men seems to automatically bring their sexual preference into question. With this, many men fear the potential of it becoming a problem for their sons and opt to express their love in ways that are considered socially acceptable and masculine. This not only has the potential to limit the father’s behavior but also has the capacity to taint the son’s view to include unnecessary boundaries.

So how does this type of affection impact a young man? (QUOTE) An equal balance in affection shown toward boys fosters a reduction in primitive ideas of sexism. This allows young men to witness healthy affection from both parents and gives them a vital foundation for love. Also, it serves as an outlet to express their feelings and that ultimately leads to the ability to form lasting relationships. As an 8th grader at St. Augustine, Landries, jr. sees the benefits of having an openly loving relationship with his dad. “My dad explained to me that it is important to have a relationship with God and how that is what I needed to be successful. Sometimes we act like brothers and clown around and then other times he gives orders and I understand the difference, Landries, jr. says. He goes on to explain that expressed affection between he and his dad is an every day thing and it has given him a basis of security.

So what about the flip side? What impact is there on men who never receive this type of affection from their fathers? According to many reports, lack of affection from fathers seem to top the list when it comes to men who have an inability to properly express affection not only toward their sons but with people in general. The concealed need may lead to these young men seeking affection in ways that are not favorable. It could range from problems forming close male relationships to problems in intimacy or worse case – misconduct and delinquency. At any rate, many find it difficult to give something that they have never received. Landries, Sr. has seen this all too many times and contends “without father/son affection boys may learn some nasty habits from the wrong source, especially being at an impressionable age. I knew one kid who had done some terrible things. When I finally arrested him I tried to speak up on his behalf so he could be reformed. I believe that parents should live a wholesome life before their children because in the future, your activities will be their convictions and what builds their character,” Landries, Sr. said.

Through it all however, African American men remain diligent and insistent on finding the right formula. Despite it all, fatherhood still tops the list of things that they are most proud of. With the birth of kids and particularly sons, many fathers see an opportunity to put into action the truths that they have come to accept and hope that it will make the world a better place. Society as a whole should seek to encourage and not segment the role of the fathers. Terms like “hands on dads” represents the overall approval of fathers being involved in their kid’s lives. What is interesting about this political incorrect terminology is that there is a desire in many African American fathers to be everything that their kids need. However, when we live in such a strangely wishy-washy society, fathers have to think about ways to compete with their kids’ peer groups and other influences that surround them. What options does he have? He can’t express frustration because that would suggestion some type of weakness. He can’t cry because that is simply forbidden and if society would just leave him alone maybe he could get a hug from his dad.

By Lana J. Moline

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