I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this post for over a week now. It’s about the importance of healthy male role models. I had it on the schedule for last Thursday, but it got bumped so I could write about an example of our governor being a poor male role model.
Months ago, I had a wonderful email back and forth with a couple readers from Whitefield (the more my blog grows, the less time I have for that stuff, unfortunately), during which we all agreed boys are getting a little neglected in our culture. Society has collectively come together to address longstanding inequalities between men and women, boys and girls, but most of the efforts have been geared toward uplifting females. As a female, I’m grateful for decades of progress.
As a mom of boys, I worry that some of that progress is leaving boys behind, though. Boys are hearing about what not to do in terms of social issues like domestic violence and substance abuse; and they are taught what not to do in terms of how to treat others. But, they do not hear enough about what to do and about how to become whole, healthy productive men in their families and communities.
I know there are wonderful male role models in all corners of our communities, role modeling in more ways than can be measured. I’ve met them in various capacities, and I’ve had the good fortune to interview some for this blog. I’d like to draw attention to four who have been in the news lately.
First, Sen. David DuTremble of Biddeford announced last week that he was resigning his legislative seat to take time to recover from his alcohol use. In one courageous moment of public vulnerability, DuTremble set the best possible example for anyone with a substance abuse disorder, but most especially men and boys. He’s a firefighter, an elected official and a father, and he was willing to admit that it’s okay to admit when you need help.
Second, Alex Steed, a fellow BDN blogger who I haven’t personally met, is another person in the public eye who has gone public about his journey exploring his relationship with alcohol. A couple weeks ago, I caught a snippet of a call-in program on MPBN featuring Steed. Steed spoke quite openly about his own alcohol-related behaviors and their effect on his personal and professional life.
The whole program (click here) is quite enlightening and includes the director of the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism. The provided link includes other available online resources. Like DuTremble, Steed is letting boys, men and dads everywhere know that it’s okay to admit you are not perfect, but you can always strive to be better.
That same call-in show, Maine Calling, features two more men setting examples of what to do. Maine nephrologist Dr. James Wasserman and Stanford neurosurgeon and author Dr. James Doty talked with MPBN’s Jennifer Rooks about mindfulness and how the practice of mindfulness can help the brain “re-wire” itself. I’ve written about mindfulness before and admitted that many readers would think I was getting all hippy dippy on them.
I said it because that’s kind of the way I felt the first time I was exposed to the practice 20 years ago. And I really struggled with implementing the practice consistently in my harried single mom life. Then I realized that I didn’t actually have to sit still and meditate to practice mindfulness. I encourage anyone interested in the idea, but who is not big on the idea of sitting cross-legged meditating, to explore the practice anyway.
Once you know how it works, you can do it while you are walking, exercising — even doing repetitious tasks like splitting wood. Bad idea to do it driving, though! It took me years to find a way that works for me, but even those of us who can’t sit still can still practice mindfulness.
The two doctors interviewed gave first-person examples of the role mindfulness plays for them. They attributed their interest in the science behind why it works to their personal successes with the practice. Here were two well-educated, successful men saying it’s okay to go all hippy dippy if it helps you be your better, healthier self. We need more examples of such honesty and openness.