Girls are no longer the “weaker sex”. They are the stronger sex, not afraid to take on challenges and jobs initially meant for boys.
They are increasingly more active on the playground and more aggressive in workplaces, pushing the boys to the sidelines.
Experts attribute this change to increased focus on the empowerment of the girl child at the expense of the boy.
According to Mr Ndegwa Mbuthia, a family counsellor, the upbringing of children has been left to women — mothers or house helps — and this is working to the boys’ disadvantage.
“The first two years of childhood are very important and if a boy is exposed to feminine behaviour, where they tag along with the mother or househelp everywhere, the boys are likely to exhibit feminine behaviour,” he said.
Traditionally, the woman’s place was the kitchen; girls were supposed to tag along with their mothers to the kitchen as the boys accompanied their fathers to the fields.
While girls are still taught how to cook and clean and take up other feminine duties, boys rarely have mentors to show them how to be a man. In fact, according to Mr Ndegwa, the urban setup no longer provides a platform for boys to transition to manhood.
“There is lack of socialisation for the boy child,” said Pastor Simon Mbevi of Mavuno Church. “The social structures were such that boys were to be mentored by older men into manhood, which no longer happens.”
Pastor Mbevi started the Man Enough programme under which men of all ages congregate to talk about issues to do with manhood after a study by his team found that fathers were absent from their children’s lives.
“According to the study, a regular urban father spends an average of seven minutes daily with his children,” said Pastor Mbevi.
Experts agree that the current crisis facing the boy child results from a nationwide fatherhood crisis. There are no fathers to hand over the fatherhood baton to their sons because they are busy at work or in the bar with “the boys”.
“Men are investing their time in everything else except their children. We have become a materialistic generation. Men are not investing in the most important thing,” said Mr Ndegwa.
The traditional fireplace where boys would sit with their fathers to be taught values is no more. Neither do fathers and sons spend time out in the fields. Boys generally grow up with the television, computers and video games with absentee fathers.
“The boys no longer have role models. They have nobody to look up to. Life is about skills. They cannot be taught in a classroom, but in day to day activities. No matter how much you study a car, you cannot drive unless you are taught to drive,” said Mr Mbuthia.
And Pastor Mbevi added: “The most important relationship in passing on the masculine baton is between father and son.”
Unfortunately, such relationships are becoming rare by the day and more single mothers are raising their sons on their own.
Boys who have not been tutored on manhood become deficient adults. They are less confident at the work place, make poor husbands and bad fathers.
The fatherhood crisis is seen in the insecurities of modern young men who are reluctant to take responsibility over their own lives and families.
“We have very educated men who cannot sustain relationships and marriages. They can no longer be anchors and defenders of their families. Simply because the boy has not been prepared for manhood,” said Mr Ndegwa.
Young men feel challenged by their female counterparts. They are insecure because the women are more confident, says Pastor Mbevi.
“When boys don’t get modelled into what masculinity is all about, they become mama’s boys. They become dead-beat fathers. They lack quality masculinity and they have no confidence. They are not able to perform well at work and socially,” said Pastor Mbevi.
These inadequacies also spill over to the workplace, where such young men who have not been toughened for life cannot take up serious assignments. They struggle to make up their minds because one of the life skills they were never taught is decision making.
From the Daily Nation