Our youth deserve time, energy and investment – Kath Curran
I have been thinking about Celia Lahlie who passed away two years ago. Celia delivered the essence of her book “He’ll Be OK – Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men” to parents around the country for nearly a decade with her generous style and great humour.
My son has just moved cities into a flat for the first time and, aching to know he is ok, I channelled the wisdom of Celia as the txts flowed between us: “how was your day?” “good”; “are you up for a ph call?”, “not now”. I remembered to take ‘good’ as exactly that, ‘a good day’ and who doesn’t want that for their son? ‘Not now’ means only that, it doesn’t mean ‘not ever’. I let it be. Well, to be truthful, I called his dad because I knew he’d spent time with our son since the weekend.
Celia’s Good Man project resulted in a message for mums: that boys want their mum to know they get it; they know that she cares about him; is there for them and that her son will come to them if something big happens.
If there’s a time in a young man’s life when less is more from mum then who takes up the slack? Good men in a boy’s life matters. A lot. At a certain stage as boys grow into men those good men in their lives will play a crucial role in keeping the big stuff from having lifelong consequences.
Society’s scorecard for young males is abysmal on rates of suicide, imprisonment, road tolls and perpetrators of violence. The collective voices of the young women and men who protested recently at parliament to raise awareness of safety, consent and protest against victim blaming is courageous and their message has to be heard; action has to follow to stamp out the ‘rape culture’ being experienced. We shouldn’t underestimate the collective strength of ‘the good man’ to guide our very young men through positive rites of passage that are respectful of their maleness and celebrate manhood.
Young people experiencing depression, trauma and anxiety will need help and services for youth are woefully under-funded. Our youth deserve the time, energy and investment to have a chance of a future filled with possibilities. Napier Family Centre relies heavily on donations and grants to allow this work.
Back to mothers raising gorgeous boys to men. Celia introduced the metaphor of the bridge of adolescence where mum accepts she watches her son’s journey from a distance while being close enough to engage if help is needed. I’ve convinced my sons to do a harbour bridge climb with me later this year… I guess I have a ways to go. But happiness is this txt just in “Hey, what bread do you normally get?” Yeah, he is definitely ok.