So, I’m cliché…
Why I Work With Men And Children Anyway?
Recently, I was interviewing a potential father for our work together. As he began sharing details about his early years, he looked up at me midway through his sentence and turned to me to wonder if I really wanted to hear his story. When I affirmed I did, he then asked what made me work with men in the first place. It was as if this career choice was unfathomable to him. This was not the first time someone has asked me this. Countless times over the course of my career, when I inform someone that I work with men, they peer at me with a curious, shocked and even at times disgusted expression. Something shocking to me, is that both men and women look at me with this same expression. For years I’ve not known exactly what to make of this. Follow up questions that come my way are usually the raised eyebrow followed by the incredulous “Really?! Whyyy?” or “Do any of them ever even change?” They are stunned, even struggle to accept my responses. So, why do I work with men?
I Enjoy It.
Many men I’ve worked with challenge me with interesting conversations & strong opinions. I don’t always agree and yet, many men appreciate my directness and honesty. I enjoy hearing about their hopes for themselves, their loved ones and their communities. I enjoy giving my perspectives while encouraging them to get out of their own way to reach their goals. I continue to learn from them.
Being Open Hearted Gives Men a Chance to be Self-Reflective.
I have been privy to thousands of powerful conversations with men over the course of my lifetime. Those conversations have shown me that many men struggle in darkness to see themselves as worthy, despite their outward personas. Having an open heart has shown me that men aren’t so terribly different than women as we’ve all been socialized to believe. That is, all of us desire to be heard and feel that we are enough. This extends across gender lines. Because I believe that when men learn that their ideas, opinions, hurts, joys and goals matter, they can then feel empowered and worthy enough to deepen their self-awareness & also their relationships with others. Frequently, this is a journey of unlearning for men. Often, society has a perception that all men are painfully overconfident, that they’re emotionless creatures. This narrow stereotype limits men’s willingness to reach out for help. If a father can improve their relationships with his children after our work together. I know that father’s heart is open to deeper connections with their children too. This is why I work with men.
I Want To Believe A Collective Can Be Formed To Challenge The Archaic Notions & Stereotypes Of Manhood
Many men seem to be driven by the age-old stereotypes of manhood. That physical strength and knowledge are the only characteristics that define them. This limited understanding of themselves stifles and overshadows any opportunities for growth. Too many young men and boys suffer in silence from these damaging notions which means men and fathers can carry feelings of inadequacy throughout adulthood resulting in feeling emotionally or professionally numb. I believe that we as a society can do better to support men’s health. Imagine how impactful this would be for generations to come!
I Worry About The Future, I Want One That Supports Us All
This being said, why not live our lives with the vision for the future we want to see happen? Ghandi reminded us that “as a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change.” I work with men to change the trajectory for all of us, I believe change is possible. When men feel better about themselves they can reach their goals - small or huge. When they experience a shift in their confidence and interactions with those around them. This, can change the world for all of us. The great King of Pop also sang such sentiments in his infamous song “Man in the Mirror.” Although he did not write this song himself, the lyrics remind us that in order to make a change in the world, we must start with ourselves. I have hope for a future where each man realizes their full potential amid the bleak atrocities of the world.
It May Be Cliché But I Believe Men Can Set & Reach Their Goals If They Take Charge Of Their Lives; I’ve Seen It.
This doesn’t mean the process is easy. Many men have experienced setbacks or feelings of defeat, but it takes courage to forge ahead even when one’s confidence waivers. Men I’ve worked with in various capacities- as colleagues or clients have shown incredible vulnerability in sharing their truths to experience success. This, is why I believe many people have given me that aforementioned incredulous expression when they learn that I work with men- they are suspicious about their capacity to set their goals either with their children, their careers or their health, but when men get out of their of their own way, amazing things can happen.
The Pain I’ve Witnessed Is Real.
As a play therapist who has worked children and adolescents & young adults for over 15 years, I have listened the pain they’ve experienced when they have distant, absent or hurtful relationships with their fathers. I’ve also seen children thrive when their fathers are present to raise & support them. Fathering is not easy and if there are fathers wanting to increase their connection with their children, or partners wanting to support the fathers in their lives to increase their connection with their children, you’ve come to the right place. Coaching can help set and reach career goals. Trust me, your children want it too. I’ve been listening.