By Dickson Tumuramye
When a girl is growing up, she receives a lot of counseling and guidance from her mother, aunties, elderly women, and peers, among others.
She is well equipped with at least some knowledge of what to expect out of life and how to handle it.
She is at least well prepared at almost every stage of her growth. At the time of marriage, the Sengas are always present to advise and help her.
The mother is usually in the background or at the forefront monitoring every step. And ultimately, she gets fitted out with all the necessary information regarding life.
From childhood to adulthood, the girl child is at least well equipped with life skills and she knows how to ably handle life in all corners. She does not only attain formal education from school, but also informal education from the people in her life.
Whereas all this is done to the girl child, less or no attention is paid to the boy child. They usually grow up struggling on their own, becoming hustlers and trying to figure out how to handle life and its challenges.
Because of this, men always find it hard to open up when they are being challenged by life, compared to women. They think they must deal with life alone.
Due to societal dynamics these days, the boy child is becoming more vulnerable because a lot of attention is paid to the girl child. There are many empowerment programmes geared towards girls than boys.
Boys grow up knowing that they are not supposed to cry in public, shouldn’t be emotional but bold enough in society.
This means even when they are hard pressed from all sides of life, they should remember that a ‘man is man’. This could explain why men are more prone to suicide than women.
Research shows that males globally have higher suicidal tendencies than females.
While women have suicidal thoughts more often, men commit suicide frequently.
As a dad, attach your boy child to one of their trusted uncles from childhood to mentor them, or do it yourself.
From a Christian perspective, every child at the time of baptism has more than one God parent.
Charge them with the responsibility of nurturing and giving support to the boy child. These boys need to be groomed well with all life skills.
Parents should not wait for the boys to first grow and begin to panic, looking for someone to talk to them. This is usually done with an imagination of: “He is now mature enough to understand.”
Do not wait for that time when an event is yet to happen. Prepare your boy child early enough with age-appropriate information so that he grows up well equipped in truth.
I trust we all need people around us to help us walk through this life, especially when we encounter challenges. As aunties and mothers intentionally guide their daughters from childhood to adulthood, even boys need that kind of care from dads and uncles.
It is nearly possible that when men get in marriage, they only depend on premarital counseling from church, yet women have a lot of information on marriage and family from different sources, which is given to them at an early age and throughout their lives.
As concerned men, let us make an effort and organise men’s empowerment programmes to help them prepare for this unpredictable life.
The primary responsibility of nurturing a child is in the hands of their parents.
It is, therefore, dad’s or mum’s responsibility that their boy child knows which road he should take and at what stage. Parents should direct their children and show them the right path to a great life.
There is an advantage that there are some boy empowerment programmes coming up; they should be taken advantage of. These programmes give information to all ages depending on the level of their understanding.
Personally, I am beginning this with my nine and seven year old sons. We talk from their level of understanding and I ensure I give clear information about what they hear or learn.
Let us not forget that all children face almost similar challenges these days; so, leaving out the boy child creates an imbalance and unfairness on both sides because ultimately, these boys have to interact with girls.
The writer is a child advocate, parenting coach and marriage counsellor.