Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Men and Nurturing

It has been on mind for some time to try my hand at writing a blog. There have been a few people who have encouraged me to write down some of things that come to me when I am thinking about how we manage our life.
As my profile says, I am a professional counsellor, a counselling tutor and a Christian. I have been fascinated by how interlinked each of these three are when I try to make sense of the world and trying to help others make sense of it too.
I suppose I am trying to specialise in helping men in particular to make sense of their role in the world, not because women are less important or that I am an expert but because I have struggled to make sense of it myself and like a mountaineer who is part of team, I would like to facilitate others to follow a path that may help them.
When thinking about where to start, I thought of ‘nurturing’. I think that parental nurturing tends to be associated with mothers. However, it seems to me that a nurturing father is equally, if not more, important. I have heard many men yearn for their father’s approval and validation. If they receive it from their mothers it is treasured but there seems to be a greater need to receive it from their fathers. After all, where does the phrase “they have a face only their mother could love” come from?
As a son and a father, I have only recently started to grasp the idea of a nurturing father. What does he look like? How does he behave in the home and to his family? What would the family be like with a nurturing father in their mist?
It occurs to me that many fathers believe that it is necessary to be the ‘head of the family’. How do men (and women) interpret what this means and how it should be achieved?
Whether you believe in Jesus as God or not, his example and the directions he gave his disciples was interesting. He washed his disciple’s feet; he told them that he did not come to be served but to serve. He told them that the first would be last and the last would be first. If his example was to be followed, what would that look like for a husband and father? How is it possible for us men to serve and put the needs of the family above our own? How can we do that and have our needs met at all? Why should we anyway?
I wonder if the idea of men being the head in the way that Jesus modelled it is to be nurturing, encouraging, and giving valued time, approval and affirmation to our family. To provide security to them that is more than ‘putting a roof over their head and food in their bellies’. I wonder if we could do that, it would give us a sense of value and importance, in fact, significance, something us men seem to have a huge need for.