To claim that parents are the primary educators of their children is much more than an assertion of parental rights. It is also a depiction of the simple fact that from the earliest age, children look to their parents to understand the world around them and their place in it. Parents mediate the world to their children, and a large part of how a child understands reality is the result of his or her experience as a person in a family.
So, what happens when a parent or both parents are not allowed to, or not available to take on this role? What happens when a dad for example, who could guide his son into masculinity is resting in peace, or is emotionally unavailable or is even physically absent by choice, from this child’s life? What becomes of this son? Who takes up the role of grooming and guiding this young man into the MAN society will be calling him?
Without older men mentoring younger men, there is no promise that our young men are cared for. The assurance that they are not alone in the masculinity sphere of dealing with day to day challenges and problems is lost on them. And without care, one is bound to feel like they don’t matter.
The available assurance is the growth of unruly addicts, boys with no regard for personal responsibility and others’. Boys who grow up into men with little or no respect for society, deadbeat men. Our sons with no male mentor figures are at a risk of joining criminal gangs, failing in life and adding more misery to their counterparts – the females.
Research confirms that quality mentorships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity. Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset.
It is generally agreed that mentoring is one strategy for meeting the needs of high-risk males. The mentorship challenges are many, but one very obvious challenge revolves around identifying a sufficient number of qualified individuals who can mentor the millions of young males in need of positive adult support.
Do we have these men? Do we have men who will stand in the gap for young males who have all sorts of behaviors and say ‘I am here for you no matter what?’ Do we have men who will make sure that the next generation of men is better than themselves? Men who will find enabling ways to make this come true?
Uganda’s young males deserve quality mentoring relationships that will allow them to completely realize their full potential in life.