Theodore A. Hoppe


This conversation is closed.

So, what is the purpose of men in modern families?

There are several Op-Ed debate in the New York Times asking, or attempting to answer, this question.

"In almost half the American households with children, mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners. This victory for working women shows evolving family economics — or maybe, two very different types of families.

So what is the purpose of men in modern families? We’re approaching the holiday that celebrates dads, but do fathers bring anything unique to the table?"

Reference a TEDTalk that you have listen to on this topic if you can.

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    Jun 8 2013: If we have to ask such questions, does it suggest that evolution and biological absolutes are no longer fit to serve modern purpose? - and isn't that therefore devolution in paraphrase?

    If gender difference no longer suits modern purposes and aspiration, then I suggest it is modern expectations that are flawed - not whether men themselves have purpose.

    The health of the human race depends on the vitality and life-affirming quality of 'difference', not the muddy greyness of sameness and equality. To see someone comfortable in their own gender whilst having the greatest respect for their opposite, is a beautiful thing to behold - and I would go so far as to say it's what makes life worth living.
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      Jun 8 2013: What are "evolution and biological absolutes?"
      I'm sure you have made a point here but I cannot decipher what it is so allow me to ask if you read any on the Op-Ed pieces.
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        Jun 9 2013: Hi Theodore, Perhaps "Imperatives" would have been a better word in the context of biology and evolution - I mean the imperative of male and female in the continuation and adaptation of species. I used "Absolute" in the philosophical sense: "...a value or principle which is regarded as universally valid..." (Dictionary definition).

        I have read the OP-Ed pieces, and I must admit I went in as a sceptical male prepared to be savaged by modernist gender value systems - but came out, on balance, affirmed that my own gender may actually have purpose after all. And the only reason it may not, would only be as a result of the coveting of equality in materialistic/monetary terms (a superficial and contrived value system of our own making).

        A thread running through the Op-Ed contributors seemed to me to be about what men 'should' be doing - a kind of prescriptive expectation of performance on an economic template, in which, if he did not match up, would be cast aside as being useless - and not a 'real man'.

        It seems to me that a more enlightened form of equality would ensue anyway as a result of the removal of performance expectations under current economic criteria.
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          Jun 9 2013: Regarding "matching up" verse not being a "real man," is something Tony Porter TEDTalk adresses to some extent:
          "Growing up as a boy, we were taught that men had to be tough, had to be strong, had to be courageous, dominating -- no pain, no emotions, with the exception of anger -- and definitely no fear; that men are in charge, which means women are not; that men lead, and you should just follow and do what we say; that men are superior; women are inferior; that men are strong; women are weak; that women are of less value, property of men, and objects, particularly sexual objects. I've later come to know that to be the collective socialization of men"

          This might be viewed by some as the "traditional role" men held. Redefining the role might not be a bad idea.
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      Jun 8 2013: Allan,
      Your comment brings tears to my eyes....

      ."To see someone comfortable in their own gender whilst having the greatest respect for their opposite, is a beautiful thing to behold - and I would go so far as to say it's what makes life worth living."

      What a wonderful world it would be:>)
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        Jun 9 2013: Colleen - do you think such a world is possible?
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          Jun 9 2013: Yes, I know it is possible, at least for some of us. Now....the question many folks want to believe in it?
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      Jun 8 2013: I guess some things have changed and some haven't

      Only women can have babies, but we have contraception. There are trends towards equality of the sexes, legally and socially. More freedom for those in a family to work out their own dynamics or choose from a wider array of common options. Also perhaps a greater array of what constitutes a family.

      A big change in the West and what I suggest is a major source of increased wealth is having dual incomes. In fact for many it is hard to get ahead now without dual incomes. Its almost a necessity.

      Another has been increased education of women, more going to university, getting a career going, putting off having children.

      I kind of like it being equals and having more options with less blowback rather than me Tarzan breadwinner and you Jane stay at home and have babies.
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      Jun 9 2013: I love what you said. It's self-refuting, and I love self-refuting statements. Wisdom is self-refuting. Evolution IS biological absolute - "the only certain thing is change". Yes, sexes evolved to be different to create variety. But evolution also means continuous change, including change in relations between sexes.

      Men are different from women biologically, so it seems, they should have different roles. But also, one woman is not like another woman, and one man is not like another man. So, how can we assign some fixed "role" for all men and another fixed "role" for all women? Isn't it "muddy greyness" to expect all women to be the same and all men to be the same?

      It is, indeed, beautiful to see someone comfortable with their own identity, whatever it may be, even if this identity does not fit into a model set by society.
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    Jun 5 2013: The be mentally, phsically, spiritually and emotionally available to his partner, children and community.
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    Jun 8 2013: I believe if we are ever going to have equal rights for men and women in the modern world, then traditional gender roles in the household must be completely abolished. What a man can do as a father and what a woman can do as a mother should be interchangeable between the two and they should be seen more as a team that is sharing the equal load of maintaining the household.

    What I meant by biology was things like breastfeeding which is clearly something that a man cannot do.
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      Jun 8 2013: Where do we not have equal rights?
      One of the ways that is often pointed to is in the area of equal pay for equal work.

      "Even feminist economists acknowledge that today’s pay disparities are almost entirely the result of women's different life choices—what they study in school, where they work, and how they balance home and career. This is not to deny that some employers will try to pay Jill 78 cents and Jack $1.00 for an identical job. But our strict laws give Jill the right to take that employer to court. The claim that American women as a group face systemic wage discrimination is groundless."
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      Jun 8 2013: Isn't equal rights more about people having and making real choices.
      If people choose a sort of traditional approach rather than be forced it is just fine by me.
      By that I mean they may choose for the women to be the primary care giver but the man would still change nappies and help out etc not a forced Victorian separation into man stuff and women stuff.
      I'm fine if they choose some other way too and all parties reasonably happy.

      I know some women who can't wait to get back to work after having a baby and others who are most happy being the primary caregiver.
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    Jun 8 2013: It's sort of rare, but when I meet a man who shines in his manhood, it's a beautiful thing--and it has so many of the same characteristics of what we might call true womanhood: nurturing, kind, protective, thoughtful, strong, sure, generous, and positive.

    Come to think of it, when people are truly connected to what it means to care for themselves and each other, we could say that these are the characteristics of:

    Motherhood, fatherhood, brotherhood, sisterhood, childhood, neighbourhood... We are not so essentially different, when we are truly beautiful!
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      Jun 8 2013: I like your thinking.
      In my study of relationship I have noticed a tendency toward individuality that leans itself toward a model of relationship that is based in the principles similar to social exchange theory. i. e. looking to get one's needs met in return for as little as possible.
      A more positive model of relationship is where we "do other's," meaning gaining insight and thoughtfulness into the others real needs and not just our own.
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    • Jun 6 2013: Great points and so well written. I was trying to work out how I would comment, but you took the words right out of my mouth.
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    Jun 5 2013: Theodore --

    Though I've long been the breadwinner in my family, even before I became a single parent, I'm unsettled by this question.

    While it's true modern familial contexts have changed, and thus, paternal roles would likely, too. It worries me that some are so naive or superficial to really think that fathers might not 'bring anything unique to the table.'

    In any case, the lack of men as heads of many households shouldn't imply their lack of purpose -- which can be different for different families, but, in my view, is critical for serving as: leader, partner, lover and parent -- at the very least!

    And, perhaps even more. As these favorite 'citizen fathers' I know, exemplify:

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    Jun 19 2013: CLOSING STATEMENTS:

    Allow me to express a heart felt "thank you" to all that took the time to explore this conversation, and especially to those of you that participated by sharing your thoughts and concerns.

    When I first googled, "The Role of Men" I found that many of the link lead to site that had religious affiliations. There are few sites that take an academic perceptive, but I did manage to find a few that expressed some important points.

    The first question we might ask is, "What has changed?"

    "In a patriarchal society males enjoy a socially dominant position. Thus, from an early age, boys are helped to acquire a masculinity that allows them to assume and maintain that position. By the same token, girls are taught to cultivate a submissive femininity. The resulting difference in the male and female character is then described as inborn and used to defend the existing power arrangement. Only those who accept it are normal, and only they can expect to succeed. The male social role is designed to reward masculine men, while the female social role offers its relative advantages only to feminine women. (The aggressive man will run the bigger business; the pretty, agreeable woman will find the richer husband.)
    In other words, masculinity and femininity are gender qualities which are developed in response to social discrimination. However, once they have been developed, they justify and cement it. The masculine and feminine gender roles mutually reinforce each other and thereby perpetuate the inequality on which they are based."

    Mutual reinforcement is a key take away here; if it is a part of the problem it can serve as a part of the solution.

    "Equality between women and men is recognized as a principle in international law, articulated in many United Nations documents from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights onwards. The idea that men and boys might have a specific role in realizing this principle has only been articulated recently"
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      Jun 9 2013: Jaden, you state that your family has been crippled since grand, grandfather.

      What do you mean by this expression?

      And what is different for you today than from your own father, to make you think that you can terminate your family's ill fate?

      And one last question, what do you mean by ill fate?

      Thank you Jaden for your reply to these questions whenever you may have time to answer. Mary
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          Jun 10 2013: Hi Jaden, thank you for your candid reply.
          This cultural situation of village life is a difficult situation to even imagine in a city such as the one I live, because many times we do not even know our neighbor's name.

          Here people move easily from one city to another, or from one state to another, and they start a new life with new friends and a new job. Of course, our economy now is not so good, so it is not easily done. But it is possible.

          I think perhaps I did not realize how important this 'rise of family' drive is in your culture.
          It is sad to read of your grandfather's experience.

          In The Good Earth the main character goes back to his village, and ends up buying all the land that was once owned by the richest family. And eventually he buys the home, with it's many courts, and his male children and grandchildren all live together there.
          His one daughter disappears from the story. She joins her husband family.
          He goes from being a poor farmer, to being a wealthy respected man.

          My question now is. Do you feel that all Chinese young men also feel like you?
          Or do you think perhaps the adversity in your past has affected your outlook on life?

          What kinds of stories have you been able to hear from your college friends? Do they study with the same pressure as yours? (I am so very curious)

          And I want to thank you for the link to My Country and My People.
          I will start reading it today.
          I started a biography last night of a Columbian author. It is part of a trilogy.
          It will be interesting to learn about two cultures at once.

          Talk to you soon, Mary
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          Jun 11 2013: I think you are correct in stating that adversity and suffering is sometimes necessary to build character traits in individuals. Endurance, patience, long-suffering, steadfastness, and a certain degree of insight and wisdom as well as maturity may very well be fine outcomes of trials and tribulations.

          How do I manage to read? I read early in the morning, before anyone awakes, and late into the night. Also, I make time throughout the day....10 minutes here and there. If I am reading something really interesting, I will keep the book with me always....and I will even read it when I am at a red light. I am kind of an avid reader. It is my favorite thing to do, next to talking to other people. It also depends on the book....It is something that came with time. I wasn't always like this. It took many years of practice, you know what they say, practice makes perfect!

          What's the worst book you have ever read? And the best?

          [edited spelling]
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          Jun 12 2013: There is quite a bit of writing about all topics, including the one in this discussion...the role of men in modern families.

          Have you read the links that Mr. Hoppe provided on top?
          They will give you a good idea as to the diversity of thinking here in the United States.

          On another line of thought, I think that it is interesting that our philosophy of life is oftentimes someone else's philosophy first......we just take on what appeals to us personally.

          Books are indeed powerful, because they shape a way.

          I have heard of the Alchemist, but I have not read it. And Zeng Guofan's Family Letters sounds very interesting.

          Are you familiar with Carl Jung? I think perhaps my next reading will be some of his work.

          Your portrait of me as a drunk longing for a book as if it were alcohol is very funny.
          When I have been very busy with school, and I know my time is so short for reading, I have to do this carrying around of the in the United States, whenever you see a man walking around with a small paper bag in one hand, and drinking from a substance inside, you know he is probably a drunk,......and inside the paper bag is an alcoholic drink, usually a beer. So after reading your statement I pictured myself with a book inside a paper bag, and looking inside the bag with ravenous eyes wanting to absorb the words inside......

          Perhaps because words pack much force, many harsh governments censor what can be given to the people to read? The written word is indeed powerful.

          To answer your question, about the difference that books, or for that matter, any writing, have made in my life, I would have to say that it has helped me see the points of view of others. And this has contributed to my feeling a need for undestanding my fellow human.
          It has helped me see the importance of good communication.
          And to ask questions first, and not just assume you understand others by reading a few words.

          Are there any editorials in Chinese newspapers?
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          Jun 13 2013: Hi Jaden, what I meant by my first paragraph, is that there are alot of books written about men in this country.


          I hope you can open the link :/

          And there are books also for women, probably more than for men.

          Carl Jung was an interesting individual. He was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist.I do not know much about him, but I am very familiar with his quotes. So I will read and find out now about the man behind the quotes.
          Perhaps you can search online when you have time and also learn?

          You said, "for people like you, maybe, you already have the knowledge that books provide, right?"

          My reply..........wrong!!

          I am learning also Jaden. For me, books allow me to focus on one subject and helps with the research of on subject. But there are many books, and each one gives a different there is alot of reading to do.

          Ultimately though, it comes down to us.
          What do I personally think.
          I read to learn, and to form an educated decision.
          But I am aware that even then, I may still be missing something!
          So, best to always keep an open mind. :)

          As for editorials in your country.........well, I am not surprised.
          Here editorials do not always stand up for the government.
          And they always fuel controversy like in your country.

          It is just too bad you cannot open the link to the articles in the New York times.
          They are absolutely wonderful.
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          Jun 13 2013: Yes it is early morning here........I am trying to listen to the quiet of the morning....bird songs....but the gardeners just started mowing the grass........oh what luck!!!

          I jump around conversations alot.....I try to keep my contributions light.....I am no expert in any particular field....except in elementary education.......but I do read alot, and love to talk.
          I steer clear of political and deep science topics.....not well informed in either.

          Also, it is a shame you cannot open youtube. Mr. Hoppe posted a wonderful talk on being a man. I am going to try and find a way to get the transcript of that talk to you Jaden.

          Be Well,
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          Jun 17 2013: Hi Jaden, I just wanted you to know that I filled out a form to try and get the talk posted to TED.
          If it comes through, you'll be able to see it, I think?

          I will continue to google search for a transcript of the far, the only transcript available is the one youtube did.....but it is really really poor....lots of words missing and wrong words typed.

          I copy pasted it to word, so that I could send it to you, but it was so poor, that it did not do the talk justice.

          I am not giving up. But this conversation is about to close, so I will contact you through another post somewhere else.
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    Jun 8 2013: Theodore.
    This question you ask makes me want to say, what is the purpose for anything? If a man is there then, he has purpose. You only need to justify his presence. This is a personal situation, and therefore many justifiable arguments can be applied. You use the word Purpose, perhaps it is, ROLE the word that you might want to use.
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      Jun 8 2013: I had the same thought. Perhaps, "role" is a better word to use in this question. People in the same role may have all kinds of different purposes.
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      Jun 8 2013: Vincenzo and Arkady,
      I agree....people in the same role may have all kinds of different purposes, which is why I used the word "role" in my first comment on this thread:>)
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    Jun 7 2013: Hi Theodore,
    I believe the purpose of family members is to support and encourage each other. For generations, there have been stereotypical "roles" for men and women in a family. The woman took care of the kids, and she was supposed to be the emotional supporter of the family. The man was supposed to be the financial supporter of the family. Men were often taught not to be too emotional, and women were often taught to stay in the kitchen and take care of everyone.

    You may know that not too long ago, there was a law on the Vermont books which clearly said the wife was the property of the husband, and he had the right, under the law, to whip and shoot her for certain offences. Finally, that law was removed, but the paradigm shift in society takes a very long time. There is a sociological term for this, that I don't remember at the moment.

    We are now talking publically about abuse. The roles of men and women are changing, with more and more women in the work force, and more stay at home dads. We are ALL (both men and women) capable of sharing many of the same roles, and I think it may still be difficult for some people to accept and appreciate this, so with some people, the shift is causing stress, distress, discomfort, frustration, etc.

    You write..."In almost half the American households with children, mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners. This victory for working women....."

    I don't honestly see it as a "victory" for women. To me, it demonstrates that women CAN be the breadwinner, and men CAN share the emotional support of the family. I have been told by some men in conversations about this topic, that some men feel threatened by the evolution of women. What do you think about this Theodore?
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      Jun 7 2013: I linked this to several talks.
      Ali Carr Chellman mentions "The Hundred Girls Project tells us some really nice statistics. For example, for every 100 girls that are suspended from school, there are 250 boys that are suspended from school. For every 100 girls who are expelled from school, there are 335 boys who are expelled from school. For every 100 girls in special education, there are 217 boys. For every 100 girls with a learning disability, there are 276 boys. For every 100 girls with an emotional disturbance diagnosed, we have 324 boys. And by the way, all of these numbers are significantly higher if you happen to be black, if you happen to be poor, if you happen to exist in an overcrowded school. And if you are a boy, you're four times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD -- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

      Philip Zimbardo says, "Guys are flaming out academically; they're wiping out socially with girls and sexually with women."
      "What's the evidence of wiping out? First, it's a new fear of intimacy. Intimacy means physical, emotional connection with somebody else -- and especially with somebody of the opposite sex who gives off ambiguous, contradictory, phosphorescent signals."
      "The only people who should care about this is parents of boys and girls, educators, gamers, filmmakers and women who would like a real man who they can talk to, who can dance, who can make love slowly and contribute to the evolutionary pressures to keep our species above banana slugs."
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      Jun 8 2013: Re: "I don't honestly see it as a "victory" for women. To me, it demonstrates that women CAN be the breadwinner, and men CAN share the emotional support of the family."

      I had the same thought, Coleen. It's great that women CAN be the sole bread winner, but it's not so great when women HAVE TO work as much as or more than men. The "victory" seems to be bitter-sweet. In modern economy, the "right" to work for women slowly transformed into the "necessity" to work.
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      Jun 8 2013: That is a quote from the Times. It is not my personal view.
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    Jun 19 2013: The second question I will pose is, "What has to change."

    I hope that others will look at this report and give some thought to its goals:

    "The Role of Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality"

    Gender relations are an interactive system of connections and distinctions among
    people (and groups of people) – what happens to one group in this system affects the
    others, and is affected by them;
    · Gender relations are not superficial, but are deeply embedded in organizational
    routines, in religious and legal concepts, and in the taken-for-granted arrangements of
    people's lives (such as the distinction between "home" and "work");
    · Gender relations are multi-dimensional, interweaving relationships of power,
    economic arrangements, emotional relationships, systems of communication and
    meaning, etc.;
    · Gender systems are diverse and changing – they arise from different cultural histories
    in different parts of the world, have changed in the past and are undergoing change
    now (Connell 2002; Ferree et al. 1999; Holter 1997; Walby 1996).

    It has been a privilege to host this discussion. I have learned, listened, grown, and shared. Thank you again!
  • Jun 16 2013: Last Continuation of previous post (sorry for the length...I am just rather passionate about this topic):

    The role of the father is to help their children develop, grow and flourish mentally, intellectually, spiritually, and socially just as the mother does. It is not until we reach a point that the prevailing opinion on our society supports this fact that we will have true gender equality in the family. It is becoming more and more supported that women can be the breadwinner, as it should be, but now we also need to accept the fact that fathers can and should play the same role in their children’s development as the mother. Gender equality is only equality when gender does not come into the equation at all.
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      Jun 16 2013: Excellent essay.
      I applaud your effort and thank you for contributing to this discussion
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      . .

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      Jun 17 2013: " Gender equality is only equality when gender does not come into the equation at all. " One of the wisest statements, and one which my father said slightly differently, to me when I was a child; " Everyone is equal and gender doesn't come into the equation at all."

      Bravo Michael!!
    • Jun 18 2013: Well said but what about when the roles are provided by two men or two women? In this case is there an equality as well?
      • Jun 18 2013: I would be tempted to say that there would be sex equality because biological sex is obviously not playing a role in the division of labor. There may or may not be gender equality. That would be dependent on the individual situation and on if one of the two partners has assumed a different gender identity than the other in the construct of the masculine or the feminine. However, for true equality these gender constructs need to be deconstructed. If labor is broken down without thought to gender roles (or another other type of societal categorization) or based on skill than I would consider that equality.

        Thanks for taking the time to ask a question James. I enjoy the discussion.
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    Jun 8 2013: Should we ask this question? Do we need to fit ourselves and each other into preconceived molds? Wouldn't this question inevitably lead to sexism, no matter how we answer it?

    It seems to me that we live in an age when boundaries and identities of all kinds blend together. E.g., ethnic background and citizenship do not matter much. People from all over the world live and work all over the world. Women serve as CEO of multinational corporations and heads of governments. U.S. military opened combat positions for women in January 2013. In many countries, a "family" no longer means a union between a man and a woman.

    Many women don't like to clean the house, cook, do the laundry, and babysit children. They envision themselves as professionals. Why not? Why should they be forced into some "role" that we see for them? Same applies to men. There are many men who work as nurses and elementary school teachers. Why not?

    Usually, when I'm told that "man is supposed to be strong" or "man is supposed to be the head of the family" it usually means that I don't measure up to these stereotypes. So what?

    I suggest not to bother ourselves and those around us with such questions and just be who and what we are.
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      Jun 8 2013: I'm not sure if the term "preconceived molds" equates the conditioning we have experienced that results in the models we create.
      The problem may be that we have unconsciously created dysfunctional models. And as we know, we resist changing our schema.

      If we have a girl baby wrapped in a baby blanket, generally speaking, what color is the blanket?
      Social psychology plays a role here.
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        Jun 8 2013: Re: "The problem may be that we have unconsciously created dysfunctional models. And as we know, we resist changing our schema."

        We need models to predict what we don't know. But all models are limited. We must understand the limits of our models to realize when they do not apply. What makes models dysfunctional is applying them to situations and people that don't fit in these models. This is when models fail to predict and may cause harm.
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        Jun 9 2013: “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

        ― Mark Twain
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      Jun 8 2013: Arkady and Theodore,
      Pat Heim, PhD, confirms this point in her book "Hardball for Women"....."winning at the game of business".

      When we are born, baby boys are wrapped in a blue blanket, and girls are wrapped in a pink blanket, and from that day on, are treated differently.

      So, in a way, society DOES mold us (or tries to) into what is expected of a girl/woman or boy/man.
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        Jun 8 2013: Babies are colour coded for efficiency sake. I don't think it as any real impact on the babies. When family go to look at their babies, if they know it's a girl, look for pink.

        The business industry via advertisement mold our thinking in most western countries. There are pockets of culture distributed through out every country, where the social structure is an established method of social interaction. Some of these systems we can escape from. Others, are not so easy, such as Islamic social structures, where women are considered nothing more than breeding stock and pleasure apparatus for males.

        In the US, there is no cultural role model alignment that is central to the American Society, other than Judao-Christan ideals.

        If women want to wing the game of business, they need to entrench themselves in the Advertisement industry and recreate the models of women presented to society. But, they usually go for the money instead and continue the status-qua. In this regard they are no different than men.

        After we have lost a few hundred females in hard combat in military service, it will be interesting to see how role models change.
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          Jun 8 2013: According to research AND reality John Moonstroller, it DOES indeed have an impact.

          You say....."Islamic social structures, where women are considered nothing more than breeding stock and pleasure apparatus for males."

          You also write..."After we have lost a few hundred females in hard combat in military service, it will be interesting to see how role models change."

          We HAVE lost females in combat......females who were fighting alongside males who were/are raping them.......think about your comments John.
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          Jun 9 2013: Re: "Others, are not so easy, such as Islamic social structures, where women are considered nothing more than breeding stock and pleasure apparatus for males."

          Can it be that this is a stereotype created by Western propaganda to think that all Muslims treat women like this? We hear these stories about Taliban to justify continued war in Eastern countries. I have a suspicion that it's not true of Muslims in general.
      • Jun 9 2013: It's true, Colleen.
        When my kids were babies, I consciously dressed and wrapped them in primary colors. And no matter where I was, the very first question was: is it a boy or a girl? So regardless of the color-coding, people want to categorize their behavior based on gender.
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    Jun 8 2013: "In almost half the American households with children, mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners. This victory for working women..." Is this somebody's idea of a joke? The abandoned single mother, so common in poverty-ridden neighborhoods, is a victory for working women? The notion is bizarre.

    About "the purpose of men:" This is a lot like asking about the purpose of life. Just as there can be no "purpose of life" in the abstract - you have to deal with the purposes of a specific life - there is no such thing as the "purpose of men" in general, even within a family. The purposes (or roles, functions, aims, goals) of Bill in his family and other relationships are up to Bill and those he interacts with. They will certainly vary over time, and will probably not be the same as Joe's. But Bill, like everyone, may be better off not worrying about his "purpose," but work on spreading joy.
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      Jun 8 2013: The abandoned single mother is the bubble men get put in when there is a split in a family. This is not always the case. I believe it is wrong for either gender to walk out of a family, stonewalling one parent or abandoning the whole family is wrong. The bonding agent just doesn't seem to be there anymore statistically speaking for self-centered reasons. However, males are always the perpetrators in the beginning. A male with poverty level income loses everything in the present court system as he is told, "put your money where your mouth is" by a judge..
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    Jun 6 2013: Sperm. Friendship. Love. Protection. Money. Change light bulbs.
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      Jun 6 2013: Not only is your answer a good one.
      But you relayed it in 'typical' male fashion.
      Short and to the point.
      At least that is how my husband communicates.
      Thanks Obey.
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        Jun 8 2013: I couldn't help myself. I just changed the kitchen sink tap. Very proud male moment when it worked without leaking.

        Seriously while there are probably cultural/societal patterns, and biological conditions (men can not get pregnant and have babies) a lot of the role of men and women, heterosexual, homosexual or other in a family or relationship contexts is up to the individuals to figure out themselves.

        Families today can mean a wide range of situations. Single parent, same sex, extended etc.

        I guess if the parties involved care for each other and work together towards healthy happy children or whatever reasonable goals it is all good.
  • Jun 6 2013: Best gift a father can give his children. Is loving their mother...

    From my own personal experience, My Dad (he was born in 1929) role was the supportive parent, he was caring, nurturing and loving. He cooked, cleaned, bathed kids, baked, worked our farm and had a full time job. My Mother did the same. They also had 10 children.

    My father was the conversation, the hug and the shoulder. He set the bar for the men my brothers are and the men my sisters and I would marry.

    Fathers are amazing, whether they work or choose to stay home. Even if you don't stay married, it doesn't mean the role of the father changes or becomes less (because then you would be a dead beat Dad and that is no ones fault but your own)
  • Jun 5 2013: The fact that one parent of either sex can support a child is true. It does not make it a good family model.

    Here are some things fathers bring to the table:

    1) Usually financial support, some or all depending on the ability of the mother to earn money and the willingness of the mother to sacrifice time with the child for life style. In some families, the same can be said for the decision for the father to work vs raise children. Having two parents that can work decreases the dependency (and usually the stress) on the working parent. If both can work, it potentially increases family wealth.

    2) Security. Have a male in the house generally causes children and perhaps women to feel less vulnerable to outside physical threats. To fight and protect as require to ensure the family's safety.

    3) A male perspective on situations and life, and serve as a male role model.

    4) Contributions to household chores, maintenance items, emergencies, and resolving unexpected situations.

    5) To teach children how males and females can interact peacefully and live life together.

    6) To teach children,particularly young males, life skills that might help them survive.

    7) To be advocates for their children as they mature with other people and society.

    8) To be a living insurance plan, back-up plan, or Plan B when things do not go right or the unexpected happens. Dads are usually pretty good at getting out of trouble and minimizing the effects of bad events that have occurred.

    9) To provide structure, discipline, stability and progressive maturity development for children.

    10) To show children how to enjoy life and survive.

    There are many more.

    Dads are not perfect. They often fall short in many of the above. Most try and do the best they can at these things even though they may not be appreciated, respected, understood, or even wanted in some instances.

    Not all stand and deliver. Some leave. Some think a child's life is better without them. Some fail.

    All are human.
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    Jun 5 2013: Both parents model attitudes and choices for the youngsters in the family. At the very least, each models uniqueness as an individual, but our biological differences suggest that we also behave in a different context. Dad may sometimes have greater insight into what son might be feeling or struggling with, for example, for having gone through life so far as a male.

    My eldest children are daughters and my youngest a son. As i grew up with no brothers and therefore did not even watch a boy growing up, much less live that journey myself, I picked up a book that had been recommended to me about raising boys. Most of what raising children involves is, I think, quite indifferent to gender, but I was seeking any special insight of which I might be unaware- special developmental issues.

    The book I read, which gave me useful perspective and which I recommend if it has not yet fallen into the path of your research is called The Wonder of Boys, by Michael Gurian.
  • Jun 5 2013: Hi Theodore,
    what an interesting topic!

    I feel very fortunate that my husband and I are working together to raise our kids. We work hard at our relationship, and value each other highly in our relationship. Often times, our gender-specific roles sort of take over - I cook, I wash, I nurture. He mows the lawn, he fixes the roof, he rough-houses with the kids. Other times, our roles feel opposite. I take the trash to the dump, he vacuums the house. No matter what we do, though, we are very much a team, a unit, and our children perceive us as that. But, they also have the space to develop their own personal relationships with both of us.

    I see change in society when it comes to modern men. The 'Metro Man' or 'metrosexual', for example, comes to mind:
    Also, on the rare occasions that I watch TV, I see quite a lot of cooking shows which are hosted by or incorporate men, from baking cakes to bread to gourmet meals. And at the same time, there are violent protests in some parts of the world about accepting homosexuals males. On the one hand, society seems to be pressuring men to be more 'feminine', but on the other, they still need to watch the football game and do the barbeque. It's confusing for everyone.The media seems to promote a merging of the two genders, or even a switch.
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      Jun 8 2013: Well, you said all and well. But what I liked the most about your comment was seeing a person that is conscious about the role of media on our daily life !
      • Jun 8 2013: Thanks, Abdelbari!
        It's hard not to notice - according to the media, men are expected to play so many roles in the family these days - they have to be sexy husbands, devoted fathers, gourmet chefs, all-round handymen, full-time bread-winners, and oh yeah, they can't be afraid to cry or use skin creme...!
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          Jun 8 2013: Yes, NIVEA has now its skin creme for MEN :D

          TBH, I'm surprised about the way you look at men, I was convinced that this is how all occident women look at men and want them to be like but you turned out different, The more you know is always less !

          Now, even in my society, media has a huge impact on that same topic and I can see it clearly in the university, at job, sometimes even inside my family ..... As a man, I feel weird sometimes in front of all these new world's expectation, they just make you feel strange. This reminds me astory, i'll tell it briefly if you don't mind. "There was a kingdom once in which flows a big river, it was the main water ressource of the kingdom's citizens. Someday the river got poisoned and every one drinks from it gets crazy, so all the citizens became crazy. The king faced the plague and faught it till one morning when he found that his wife also became crazy and started to complain about the king's craziness. The king called his minister :
          -where was the guards when the queen drank the water?
          -all the guards are crazy too, your majesty.
          -and the doctor?
          -the doctor too, my lord.
          -who else isn't crazy than ?
          -sadly my lord, the is no one but you and me, all the kingdom got crazy and they're pretending that they're wise ones and we're crazy.
          -what's this bullshit? they drank from the river so they're the crazy ones !
          -in fact my lord, they're telling they drank from the river to prevent themselves from craziness, so we're crazy if we didn't drink. Now, they're the majority and they own right, justice and vertue and they're the ones who put the threshold between sanity and craziness.
          At this moment the king said: Minister, serve me a goblet from the river of craziness ... Craziness is trying to stay sane in a world of madmen.

          I don't know why I told this story, but it just acrosses my mind from time to time. And sorry for my bad english, this is why I don't translate on Amara :p
      • Jun 9 2013: You know, Abdelbari, I've known for a long time I look at a lot of things 'differently' than most women... perhaps because I grew up with two older brothers whom I adored. Perhaps, by the influence my Dad had on me, which wasn't apparent till later in life (see the tribute to Dads convo), perhaps it's just my character... I see a man as exactly the same as me, with some slight differences.

        I loved your story, and see well how it fits into this thread! "Craziness is trying to stay sane in a world of madmen." You could say "Craziness is trying to stay sane in a world of The Media."
        Drinking the water in your story, or complying to the commercial 'role' a man should play, it's the same thing. Do we succumb to the insanity, or pave our own road?
        I dare say, most male Tedians are road-pavers.
  • Jun 17 2013: Some wonder why men in Western cultures refuse to grow up. It's because we tell them being responsible and mature and having a defined function in society is not necessary because of the empowerment of women (taken too far).

    We need to foster a culture where men are accountable for their actions, and women don't emulate the bad boys. We need to remember that lifting one another up is just as possible as dragging each other down, and actually do the former, while stating the latter is no longer socially acceptable.

    We men are more fragile than we are willing to admit, and we retain a superficial life focus (by and large) until a good woman holds us to being a good man. Then we hold each other to be good parents.

    When Western society learns that men and women are fundamentally different in their function to society, but equally valued based on that difference, we all will realize that questions like this can be seen as fundamentally anti-man.
    • Jun 18 2013: Craig,

      Can you expand on what you believe this fundamentally different function for men is in your opinion. I would love to better understand your position.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    I am just not sure how we've come to a society where we have worked so hard to free women from strict gender roles but apparently in the mainstream my value in a nuclear family is still directly tied to my financial contribution - that we discuss what the role for an adult male could possibly be in a nuclear family in a post male-bread winner society as if it is any different from a woman's. It seems we have progressed in this particular instance to a place near equality but then jumped ship straight to the other side to where men are now the victim and still very restricted to gender roles if they don't want to be looked down upon. It is not that I worry I will not be able to financially support any family I might have. I seriously doubt that we would hurt, but I am also equally sure that it is quite possible that my wife would make more than me epically if I pursue the career in educational finance that I desire. I should not have any trouble supporting my family, but I also feel like if my wife is a less social area she could easily make more. It bothers me that in society’s eye this may hurt my value as a man and as a father. However, it bothers me even more for what it implies, that my potential value as a catalyst for growth and development mentally, intellectually, or spiritually in any potential future child is so discredited next to that of their mother that my value in a nuclear family is questioned when I am not the primary bread winner. That is to say, I have no role to play in the true parenting of my child. Financial support and security only make development and growth the most possible, by protecting against some barriers to effective education. It is not, in and of itself, development or growth.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    As seen in the same Op Ed I just praised we seem to praise positive progression for women as universally positive without questioning, in instances where appropriate, why men are falling behind. For example, “The latest grabber came from a Pew study that found women are now the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households with children. Clearly, there is good news embedded in this story. For example, women now earn 60 percent of university degrees in the U.S. And these young, college-educated women in urban areas are now beginning their careers with higher starting salaries than their male counterparts. This is a cause for celebration for those of us interested in greater gender equality.” The Op Ed does have something definite correct. This is a great and positive step forward for women, but why are we not questioning the other side of this equation. Men are roughly 50% of the population but they are only receiving 40% of college degrees. Why is this not concerning? A 60 / 40 spilt on college education does not seem to be equality to me – it seems that something is holding back men (internally or externally) that is curbing their ability to reach their potential. I see this same problematic thinking in line with the parenting debate. It is absolutely wonderful that single parents can raise perfectly successful children, but I do not think it is equally as wonderful that because men are no longer needed to be the breadwinner that we find ourselves asking if men have a role to play at all in their nuclear families.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    . In a society that is pushing towards gender equality the role of a man in a nuclear family is to show that being a good man is simply being a good person – that there is no difference between being a good man and being a good woman. In a society of true gender equality, the answer to the New York Time’s question of “Do father’s bring anything unique to the table?” is a resounding, and proud “No,” but just because fathers may bring nothing unique does not mean they do not contribute at all. As one of the Op Eds pointed out, “Our research (with mainly college-educated, white-collar fathers) shows that today’s fathers spend an average of 2.5 hours per workday with their children and more than 3 out of 4 would like to have even more time with their offspring. Those fathers reported that being a breadwinner was less important to them than providing their children with love and emotional support, being present and involved in their child’s life, or being a good mentor and role model. In spite of their longer paid working hours, fathers have doubled their time doing domestic tasks and tripled their time on child care over the last generation, although they do still do significantly less than their spouses in both categories. The number of at-home dads has also doubled in the last decade.” This is as it should be: a step towards equality and continued steps until fathers are doing just as much domestic work as their partners and are just as involved in their children’s lives. I have come to live in a society which has a definition of equality that confuses me.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    I have come to accept this and have supplemented my social circle with men that can act as the kind of role model I would have much preferred to find myself living with. The Op Ed suggests, it seems positively, that children will spend their entire lives chasing after the approval of their father, but this seems short sighted. Children who ultimately become adults need to learn to internalize their success so that they may become stable, happy adults driven by internal purpose as opposed to becoming sheep following the herd of society looking for praise and acceptance. This becomes rather hard to do if you are always chasing after the acceptance of a parent – or even if you are always validated by your parents. Children, as teens and adults need to reach a point where they are validating their own existence and achievements. This is something both mothers and fathers can play a role in developing. A parent’s gender or sex is insignificant. However, this assumption is further presented in the way the New York Times presented the debate. In their introduction it questions, “In an age when more and more mothers are sole or primary breadwinners, do fathers bring anything unique to the table?” Even in the posing of this question alone we are presented with the assumption that men’s unique contribution to their children’s lives are financial. After all, what could they possibly contribute when women are becoming the bread winners? As I have stated, this status quo seems outdated and misguided.

    Men may not have any unique offerings to bring to the table beyond the fact that they can act as a male role model, but even this role is questionable.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    However, for generations and throughout cultures, a man’s responsibility has been to protect the women and children under his care. This includes not only physical protection but also financial provision and the display of healthy authority in the home.
    Fathers also pass down a blessing to their children. A mom believes her son or daughter is a success no matter what. The child who scratches out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on a violin is destined for first chair in the New York Philharmonic, according to Mom. Dad’s validation is different. The son or daughter who never receives this blessing may unconsciously spend a lifetime searching for it.”

    This Op Ed actually appeared to be written in support of fathers – however, I believe the picture it paints of a father’s role is sorely lacking. I do not believe all men are capable of providing the type of physical protection that seems required in this definition. Perhaps, because I am physically disabled I am biased – I know there are exceptions, but it saddens me that I would be considered less of a father because I may be unable to physically protect my future wife and children. That is not to say that they will be in danger – I am becoming college educated, pursuing a well-paid career I am passionate about and have a great support network that will be there to help me and my family. I seriously doubt we would ever be put in a truly dangerous situation. I do not think my inability to play this role will make me any less of a father (or at least should not).
    Further, I question the value of the stern, unaccepting father that is praised in this particular Op Ed. My own father has been far from involved in my life. He is what many would consider the traditional father – of a model I consider outdated. He is the bread winner but does not contribute much to my development in any other way. We hardly ever communicate.
  • Jun 16 2013: Before I answer the question directly, because I think it has a very simple one, I want to spend some time on a problem I see weaved through not only the question the New York Times asked, but its introduction to the debate and several of the debaters responses to the question. There seems to be two assumptions I can pinpoint in this sphere of thinking and debate that the New York Times or the opinions presented imply.

    1) Men’s primary role in the family is or should be financial support
    2) Children who grow up without a father are doomed

    There seems to be more Op Eds that agree with the first assumption and more Op Eds that disagree with the second and from casual observation, that break down seems consistent with wider society. That being said, this observation may be biased as I have grown up in a low socioeconomic area and I suspect, the Op Ed “When Children Are Better Off Fatherless” may apply more so to the places I am familiar with than more affluent areas. However, we can take these two assumptions and generalize it into a deeper statement about a father’s role in a nuclear family.

    Underlying Assumption Identified: Men are only necessary to provide financial support and perhaps physical protection, but otherwise do not add much value (or are expected to not add much value) in a child’s life (because those without a father are at no distinct disadvantage).

    Certainly the New York Times presented Ops Eds that support all parts of this underlying assumption and other that do not because there are always progressive thinkers. However, one Op-Ed, I was nearly paraphrasing in the assumption as they claim
    “Fathers provide two specific emotional needs for which Mom, try as she may, cannot completely compensate.
    First, fathers provide a sense of security. Unfortunately, some fathers have used their superior physical strength and their booming voice to intimidate rather than to protect.
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      Jun 16 2013: I will repost a part of a comment I recently made because I see it as applying to the points you have made.

      Many of the comments here, as is the case with the Op-Ed pieces,have been presented from the perspective, of fathers, but I will suggest that men have a vital role to play as sons, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers in the moderen family. This is especially true in households with single mothers as the primary breadwinner.

      Perhaps we have narrowed our understanding of what a family is too greatly, and in doing so have forgotten the supportive roles we once found value in.
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    Jun 16 2013: Happy Father's Day to all the fathers!!
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      Jun 16 2013: Thank you, but one of the points I was going to make in my closing statement, but will add here, is that men are more than just fathers. Many of the comments here have been presented from that perspective, as was the Op-Ed pieces, But I will suggest that men have a vital role to play as sons, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers in the moderen family. This is especially true in households with single mothers as the primary breadwinner.
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        Jun 16 2013: VITAL is the key word. And on the fact that "men have a vital role to play as sons, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers in the modern family.. This is especially true in households with single mothers as the primary breadwinner" ; I agree with you 100%. I hope you will reach many with your closing statement. One thing that this world desperately needs is great wise men such as yourself, who can mentor the younger generation of men. The challenge is the blind spots in the young created by the extreme arrogance of the untamed ego causing them to miss out on the opportunity to collect the pearls of wisdom, offered by the seasoned man.Thank you for a great question.
      • W T

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        Jun 17 2013: I think that many times the sons and brothers and uncles and grandfathers step back from taking an active role in families with a father figure.

        And there are families without other male figures except a father....growing up, that was my family.
        No uncles, or brothers, or grandfathers.

        So, now that I have my own family, and finally I have all kinds of males in it, I am trying to weave all the male figures together for the enrichment of our family. But it is tough is very tough.

        Your conversation has been wonderful.
        I have enjoyed reading and participating in it.
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      Jun 17 2013: Happy Father's Day to ME!
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        Jun 17 2013: :-)
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    Jun 13 2013: Don't be a mamma's boy....Be a man! If you listen to this talk you will learn an interesting fact, that 80% of men have some form of "alexithymia." I thought this is a powerful talk, please take the time to listen to it if you are interested in this subject.

    "Joe Ehrmann has been an educator, author, activist, pastor and coach for more than 25 years. He was a college All-American athlete who played professional football for 13 years. Among numerous awards, Joe has been named "The Most Important Coach in America" for his work to transform the culture of sports."
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      Jun 13 2013: A+ speech.
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      Jun 13 2013: Theodore, what a wonderful talk.

      Alexithymia, I had not heard that word before.

      I found it interesting that he targeted sports as a way to rewire young men's thinking. His being a coach in real life gives him quite a bit of insight into the behaviors of young men in general.

      You know, as I listened to him I couldn't help but think that yes, we tell boys "be a man" "stop that crying", and at the same time, when girls cry we say "you're such a girl".
      You NEVER hear people tell girls "be a girl".

      To love and be loved. That is what it's all about.
      Life is very simple.
      We complicate things.

      So Theodore, there are only five days left of your conversation.
      When will you chime in and tell us your personal take?

      I wonder if any of the men who have read the NY Times articles and watched this video have undergone a paradigm shift?
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        Jun 17 2013: No, we never hear people tell girls "be a girl", but it is suggested to them in other ways, often more powerful than a verbal message. Barbie girls, Disney films, Hollywood, pop stars... It may seem benign in our culture, but what about others? Where not being a girl that you're expected to be may lead to persecution? Where girls are denied education and basic human rights.
        It puts things into perspective.
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      Jun 17 2013: Thank you for providing the link, Theodore.
      I may actually use some of the points from this talk in my work. What i do now and have done for quite a while is teaching work safety in construction and industry - how not to get killed in a quite dangerous conditions and not expose others to dangers. i only teach men and have heard so many stories, truly dangerous ones, about what being told to "be a man" may lead to in those professions. I always have to coach, train and shock my trainees into understanding that being or playing tough is never a good solution as it may actually lead to a serious accident.

      This is especially true when it comes to the psychosocial environment, when there are only men working, having their little bullying games with one another. Beings masculine, "being a man" is a norm in those circles and being an emotional human being is not allowed.

      The worst example of what may happen when being "masculine" is viewed as a goal is this - one of the so-called mamma's boys (as described by other men in my course group) got a job and others did not take a liking to him. They nagged him, called him names, bullied him for over a year. After a year of such masculine persecution he got to his work early, took a gun and... shot himself. I use this example to show that being a tough, masculine guy may not pay. Being professional, smart and aware will.

      Thanks for the link again, some of the thoughts expressed there will probably be of use.

      When it comes to the topic of this conversation and the purpose of men in modern families... Maybe that's not what we should be focusing on? Maybe we should just focus on being a good, smart, aware and a loving human being despite of the gender or the role given to us by the culture we live in?

      Best wishes.
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      Jun 17 2013: Wow!! This Talk is exceptional Theodore!!
      It should be front row and center at TED - today!!

      "What it means to be a man:
      1. Emotive Masculinity
      2. Relationships
      3. Commitment to a cause"
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        Jun 17 2013: I pleased to have shared it here.
        It deserves more exposure.
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    Jun 12 2013: Whatever it is, it is not natural.
  • Jun 12 2013: Be a happy man truely from your heart.
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    Jun 10 2013: "So what is the purpose of men in modern families? We’re approaching the holiday that celebrates dads, but do fathers bring anything unique to the table?"

    Fathers bring things to the table. Fathers fail to bring things to the table. In the US in almost half of the families with children the mothers are the breadwinners. In India in almost half of the families with children the fathers are the breadwinners.

    If you are asking how it should be, fathers should bring balance to the tables for families where they figure. I by no means am saying families without fathers are non-functional, just saying that for a child the balance means the right mixture of motherly softness and fatherly strength.

    But I am old fashioned and you need not take me seriously :)
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    Jun 10 2013: There are irresponsible fathers; irresponsible, their excuses notwithstanding.
    Children should be brought up by both parents, because a home is the first contact a child has with the community.

    I laugh at the idea of 'modern family'. Families in the Victorian era would probably claim to be 'modern', and so would families in 2082.
    Humanity is humanity. A man and a woman should use their uniqueness to the advantage of their children.
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    Jun 9 2013: to celebrate the masculine. it exists in roughly half the population. without it, the feminine would have no definition (that works both ways).

    "dream up, dream up, let me fill your cup with the promise of a man" - Neil Young.

    menimism is alive and flourishing
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    Jun 9 2013: Colleen, bridging the gap would be a full time job with plenty of overtime. It is an uplifting thought and thanks for reaching out.
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      Jun 10 2013: Reaching out is my pleasure Vincent....thanks for the feedback. Perhaps it is something we can all do more of:>)
  • Jun 9 2013: Your role is what you choose it to be.
    Follow your heart, not social expectation.
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      Jun 9 2013: I keep asking whether people here commenting have bother to read the NY Times Op-Ed.
      I don't think that you have if this is the brevity of your comment.
      • Jun 9 2013: I didn't bother to read the NY Times Op-Ed, as i have only just become aware of its existance.
        You seem to have read my comment as being irresponsible. It seems that you believe that society needs to tell loving, caring parents how to raise a family.
        I have more faith in myself than i do social belief.
      • Jun 9 2013: I have just visited New York Times Op-Ed and it gave me no clues as to what you are talking about. Could you please elaberate as i do not know on what grounds you found my comment objectionable.
      • Jun 9 2013: I have, and found it to be an interesting array of opinions, supported by fact, similar to what's going on here.

        I found Juli Slattery's thoughts interesting in "Mom and Dad Fill Different Roles"
        She said, "In 50 years, our society has gone from “father knows best” to “father knows nothing” to “who needs a father?”"
        She also said, "No woman can be mom and dad to her children."
        Just as, no father can be both to his children.
        But sometimes, we have to roll with what we've got, as do our children.
        Other times, I think we give up too easily on a marriage that still has the potential to work.
        • W T

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          Jun 9 2013: Lizanne, I used to think that the disintegration of family is a modern phenomenon...but I have spoken to women from all over the world, and have talked at length about their mothers and grandmothers and have discovered that men have been leaving their wives for ever and ever.....alone, and to care for their children without a father figure.

          In the past, it seems that some women have been the victims.

          Today, some women are leaving the men......for many many different reasons.

          There is a general breaking down of the family structure.

          I remember once a fellow worker talking to me about a program on TV called "Everybody Loves Raymond". She told me how she did not watch the program because it portrayed men as dumb and lazy and the woman as superior and intelligent. She thought it was insulting to families, and it showed a lack of respect for the family head.

          And, although the program is a bit silly, and they take alot of "stereotypical" male attributes and exaggerate them, I think she was kind of right. The program does not portray men in a positive light. Could shows like these be harmful?

          We love to watch the show Father Knows Best. The family is loving and have good communication, and work out their differences. We always feel very upbuilt after watching it.

          Lizanne, I think people give up give up too easily on a lot of things, not just marriage. Why is that?
      • Jun 9 2013: Mary,
        This is a question I so often ask myself!!!
        I see so many separations around me, and so much lack of persistence and determination. There seems to be a lack of integrity these days...
        I can't help thinking it ha to do with commercialism and media. So much is temporary, and disposable, fleeting. How we consume is reflected in how we treat each other, and ourselves, in my opinion.
        Ad of course, like you say, the media plays a big role in the choices we make, portraying people unrealistically but always with the hidden subliminal message, "this should be your life too, and if it isn't, you need to change it".
        I don't know. I do know that my husband and I were on the verge of splitting up at one point, more than four years ago, and we fought as hard as we could to get ourselves back on track. Not for the kids, not for any material possession, not for anyone else, but for us, because we knew our marriage was worth salvaging.
        Do people not know how to fight anymore? Or is it even worse, that they don't know what they want, so they don't know how to fight for it?
        • W T

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          Jun 10 2013: Lizanne,
          To the trained eye, and to those who are observant and think about what they are watching, these types of questions are HUGE!
          I have personally dealt with divorce in my family. It has been terrible.
          To this day, I cannot figure out why the individuals lacked a sense of duty and commitment to each other. I personally tried to help them, but could not. Both individuals are somewhat closed minded and materialistic.
          I think alot of couples go through rough patches. We did too.

          I think it's like you say Lizanne, I think that people are influenced by media, and also by the fact that alot of people live a life without purpose. The little Zen video you posted reflects the way people are 'trained' to think.

          Then, when they reach adulthood, old age, they look back, and regret takes over.
          I'm not saying in every case, but in some cases.

          When I look at today's youth, with their pants hanging down below their rear, and tattoos all over, and ears filled with rubber rings making a donut hole in their ear, I wonder, what will the world be like in 50 years? Where are these youngster's parents?

          But at the same time, I see all this wonderful youth on TED working with NGO's and fighting for a better planet.

          Two opposing sides. Life is about two opposing sides. We have to choose which side to be on.

          I am a person of faith Lizanne. The knowledge I have has helped me tremendously.
          And I am a people person. I know there is more out there than my little ol' head can grasp. I continue to hope for the best, and to seek understanding and to help others when I can.

          Life is so very beautiful. All stages of life. If people realized how they throw their lives away by clinging on to stuff.......what a waste.

          Men, and women have an important role to play. That of helping each other succeed.
          I think it's all about giving the best of ourselves.

          There is a quote I love, here is the link to it:

      • Jun 10 2013: I so enjoy reading your perspective on things, Mary.

        I seem to find myself on a side, not really sure which side it is, but a side where my parents were very much involved, but also a side that is not exactly conformist. I like to defy society, within the rules!! So does Roland, my husband, which is why we're such a good match, I think, and why I am so thrilled his blood, and mine, are running through our kids veins. Our kids are the cocktail that is us.

        What a wonderful quote!!! Sarah is an inspiration.
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          Jun 10 2013: "Our kids are the cocktail that is us"......that's not so bad a quote either.

          Keep being yourself are very very unique.
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    Jun 8 2013: There probably is no purpose, considering you could have a civil marriage (with two women) so in this case there would be no purpose for there having to a be a Man. However this is too specific.
    I guess (traditionally) the man was usually the "breadwinner", while it was the woman's duty to look after the children. While if you didn't require someone to "look after the children" due to you being able to hire someone to do that for you, then one of the parent's role in that case becomes redundant.
    So I guess to both work... (Am probably wrong!)
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      Jun 8 2013: Dear Bernard,
      You are NOT wrong.....get that through your wonderful intellectual, exploring head!

      Family roles are certainly changing, which you insightfully recognize. How does it feel to you, to think of using the word "role", rather than, or in addition to "purpose?
      • Jun 9 2013: Good suggestion, Colleen.
        Playing a 'role' suggests something unauthentic, or temporary. 'Purpose' sounds powerful to me, like following an undeniable, biological, positive goal.
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    Jun 8 2013: (Didn't read the posts below me)

    *Look after family. Provide economically. Provide everything mother needs (emotionally!).
    *Prepare kids mentally and morally. Give them education. Tell what what is good and what is wrong.
    *Save teens from drugs. Be their friends. Tell sons to not beat their future wives.
    *Save daughters from Disney Channel influence so they don't turn up like Paris Hiltons and Lindsay Lohans. Also teach them IT IS WRONG TO POST YOUR SEMI-NUDE PHOTOS ON FACEBOOK.

    That should be enough for a start...
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    Jun 8 2013: Vincent DeVillier wrote: 20 minutes ago: "What does fathering children and taking care of the family mean to you? if money is your #1 answer then I strongly disagree and to enforce this by imprisonment is a string of wrong answers to the poor economical states of today reflecting modern day slavery of man."

    I don't see imprisonment as an injustice to someone who has committed injustice to their victims. I suggest it is an opportunity for them to change and become more humanly integrated with the rest of a peace loving humanity. Of course, injustice can be taken too far in either direction. I suggest we mutually build such a structure, call prison, where this liberating experience can take place.

    When you don't have money you still may need to provide some type of alternative to accomplish your objectives. When it is in short supply you may have to choose between different need and desires as to which you will apply it. If you still need both objectives, you may have to improvise in some way to accomplish that need.

    I don't won't to enslave nobody but my dog and only so he can keep a good eye on my stuff. I do feed him well and pet him often. He don't appear inclined to move on so he may like the situation.
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    Jun 8 2013: I can not thank you enough for posting this thread. Thank you. I have two daughters I love very much. I miss the bike rides, the tickle torture and the story before bedtime, the creative paintings, and jumping on the trampoline with them. Most of all I miss being a parent which is having the ability to teach them everything I know.
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      Jun 8 2013: "In spite of their longer paid working hours, fathers have doubled their time doing domestic tasks and tripled their time on child care over the last generation."
      This was the finding of a Pew Survey.

      "But the dirty little secret is that in 5 out of 8 of these households, the woman was not just the primary breadwinner; she was the only breadwinner, without a partner.

      That’s not the “end of men,” and it’s certainly not an economic victory for American women. When unmarried women are the breadwinners, which is now the case in 25 percent of U.S. households, the family’s average income is only $23,000 a year."
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        Jun 8 2013: "Families are better off in virtually every way when there are two parents present. When it comes to income to support family well-being, it matters less whether the woman earns more than her husband or vice versa. This shouldn’t be a competition pitting women against men. The progress that really matters is whether all American families are doing better."

        Exactly, it has been hard wired in us and in this society. Yes, let us talk about democracy. The author writes about competition and what really matters is families doing better.The worse thing about democracy is it blocks changes that would encourage people to think less individualistically. It also drags down gifted people to the lowest level of shared understanding. Stonewalling the parent making less income comes natural in such a way there is no other partner. They eventually feel to believe there is nothing useful about this parent/relationship if they do not bringing in stable financial income. There is the competition and the "stereotypical "roles"" Colleen Steen writes about that are now hardwired bringing frustrations. I don't feel threatened by women, what I feel is a sense of inequality by the lack of understanding that mixes old traditions with the reality of modern man today. This leads me to a new quest of freedom with less work hours for everyone and a greater number of employment for the better of humanity.
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          Jun 8 2013: ""Families are better off in virtually every way when there are two parents present. "

          That really depends on if they are getting along. Two fighting parents can heavily disorient a family.

          From my perspective, it appears that a family with a strong mother stands a chance of being more successful. I think if we support single mothers society would benefit. More often then not, in a single parent household with a father, the daughters are transformed into mother figures where the males (brothers) become dependent on them.
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      Jun 8 2013: It's not the end of the world Vince. I have about three young men I've met on TED that emailed me and expressed some kinship with some of the things I write. We email each other all the time (making sure it is ok with their parents). I'm a kind of mentor of sorts. You get a good feeling helping young people to understand the world around them. Boys and Girls clubs are always in short supply for smart, emotionally stable people to volunteer.
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        Jun 9 2013: I clearly see it is not the end of the world. It is just the beginning of a world in which I NEVER knew could ever possibly exist! I'm speaking about the courts and the amount of power that is given to mothers. It creates MORE debate and hate. The hate paste gets thicker on BOTH sides. I do my best to forgive with no apology ever made to the brainwashing, the kidnapping, the wedge between my relationship with my parents, the rules I have to follow, the lack of rules mother does not have to follow, the lies made in court, the petty anal analyzing of my mind, do I need to continue? I want to make a stand for myself and the good fathers out there that are put in this bubble I speak of. How much money do you think is thrown into this a year? Who has to pay for it all? Dad's do! Sincerely.
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          Jun 9 2013: Men are powerful creatures. The can take life, torture, debase other men and worse, they take thrill in it. I recall a news article about a rebel warrior in Syria, eating the heart of a warrior he had killed. Women, children, the courts, they all have good reason to fear us.

          It is our responsibility to temper our physical power with a powerful mind that can put us calm when we become angry, rational when we become emotional.

          Women leave men for one, or more, of four reasons: money, other men, freedom or fear.

          No two women are alike, that makes the possibilities of finding one that is compatible with your temperament very probable. After three strikes, I finally hit a home run. My kids are still here, loving me and communicating with me. Life is good. It's always darkest before the storm. The night eats away at the mind, telling it lies and deceitful things. Dawn reveals the truth and the night sulks away.

          Tears are not your enemy. They are your friend. They melt away the pain and restore the calm.

          I'm sure your children love you dearly. They are so innocent, so trusting and don't like to see their daddy in pain.A man must be strong for his children. Women are plentiful and eager to please.

          In the end..... it's a man's world.
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    Jun 8 2013: I strongly believe every parent separation should start out at 50/50 custody. However, one parent should not be forced to pay another parent if we want to be involved and willing to compromise on the decisions for the best interest of our children (with the exception of solid evidence of abuse, neglect, and such). The law should not be involved unless it absolutely has to be. Parents are equal.
    The law has become too involved in these massive number of cases now. Why? I believe it is to simply make money while being forced to except, "just the way it is". I don't understand how children could have ever became a way to make money. In my best summery I'd call it organized kidnapping. Is child support only in the form of money owed to the other parent? In the eyes of the law, yes. Nothing about equality exist today in these cases. As long as food, shelter, and clothes are provided for the children, what should the government have to do with it? It's clearly a cash crop and nothing about 50/50 equality. I do not want to be a weekend warrior father at all.

    In the US today, man is nothing more than a sperm bank/extra income. Look at the rate of broken home families today. I speak from personal experience and truth. I also believe today the good man suffers for the bad man from the past. A man is instantly still stuck in this bubble of wrong doing straight out of a separation/divorce case having to prove himself mentally and "normal" (another cash crop within another). Dad, just shut up and pay.
    I desperately seek help and may be forced to a week of prison time of punishment for not being able to pay a large sum of back child support during a year and a few months of unemployment until just recently. Also ordered to pay for ANOTHER mental evaluation as the first said nothing about me being harmful or a threat to my children. Any help would be appreciated. I haven't seen my kids in over a month. The stress has taken it's toll.. I am willing to make a stand for fathers.
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        Jun 9 2013: I don't want anyone's sympathy here. I want to speak my mind so experienced ones like yourself can see what has become of things.
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    Jun 8 2013: Something to consider:The NPR-Kaiser Family Foundation survey found the nation's high unemployment rate has caused rifts within many families: More than a fifth of all Americans who have been out of work for a year or more report that relationships with intimate partners have changed for the worse. More than a third say their economic situation has negatively affected their partners' health and well-being.

    In a recent report, ABC News' "Good Morning, America" talked about how the economy is now forcing divorced couples to live together, citing Florida divorce attorney Carin Constantine, who recalled a case in which "the judge put an order in stating what days they were allowed to use the kitchen, and who got to use the living room, who got to use the television." Sternlieb said her own daughter, against her advice, is considering a divorced-but-living-together arrangement with her estranged husband in Texas. "They can't afford to live separately. They can't afford separate residences. More and more people, this is what they're doing, and this is awful because they're roommates now with their ex-spouse," she said. Sternlieb says the arrangement creates joint physical custody issues and makes it harder for the children. "It's confusing for the children and when one of them moves out, it's a real hard thing to go to a judge and say I want to be the primary custodian," she said. "The economic crisis is almost creating a split in physical custody," she added. "People aren't able to afford daycare so that's where a lot of the joint physical custody is coming in. A lot of dads are out of work so it's 'I'll watch the baby during the day... Well, if he watches the baby, he must be able to handle physical custody."
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    Jun 8 2013: The purpose of men should be that of women, that of humans. The point is that there's no gender roles and there is no more point in being a woman then there is in being a man.
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      Jun 8 2013: Well, women do have the babies.
      There are obvious gender differences and some are spelled out in the book "The Tending Instinct: Women, Men, and the Biology of Relationships" by Shelley Taylor

      For generations, scientists have taught us about the “fight or flight” response to stress. But is this instinct universal? Renowned psychologist Shelley E. Taylor explains that “fight or flight” may only be half the story. Humans—particularly females—are hardwired to respond to stress differently. As Taylor deftly points out in this eye-opening work, the “tend and befriend” response is among the most vital ingredient of human social life.

      "Ranging widely over biology, evolutionary psychology, physiology, and neuroscience, Taylor examines the biological imperative that drives women to seek each other’s company, and to tend to the young and the infirm, bestowing great benefits to the group but often at great cost to themselves. This tending process begins virtually at the moment of conception, and literally crafts the biology of offspring through genes that rely on caregiving for their expression."
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        Jun 8 2013: Yes women do have babies, and there are a lot of physical differences between women and men, I don't deny that at all.
        I often point out to extreme feminists that the male brain is on average 10% larger then the female, just to spite them. And once they're upset I quickly state that Einstein has a brain that was the size of a typical woman's' brain and then it's usually all good

        So we can agree that there are many differences concerning the human male and female physical and psychological structures, I've read the studies on stress on males and females and recognize the difference. But this is all in general. And it may be used to better our understanding of the behaviors we do as a society or in large groups.

        When it comes to the individual we are all different, some women are better at science then many men (a feat that is usually contributed to men) and many men are more emphatic then some females. And all kinds of examples can be made for when people don't fit the stereotype of their gender.

        The reason I don't think that we should even be thinking in gender roles is because we would presume that people are born to different tasks depending on their genitals. Not actually looking at how appropriate each person may be for any specific task. Instead we would simply say "you're a woman, you're best at tending for kids. You do that while I go out and lift the heavy things." even if the woman is terrible with kids and much stronger then her male partner.

        We would not assign Asian people into roles to do "short-people work" just because they are generally a bit shorter then Caucasians are.

        And eliminating gender roles is also a huge part of women's liberation movement, while people uphold gender roles there are things that they think that men are better at and these things usually concern governing/deciding over others (especially women) on what to do and how to act.
        This is often done without letting women speak their mind.
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          Jun 8 2013: The Differences Between Men and Women: Paul Zak at TEDxAmsterdamWo

          "Last year he talked at TED Global about empathy. His research has shown that a few
          hugs a day make us friendlier. As a neurologist, he will enlighten us about the differences between men and women."

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        Jun 8 2013: I also think that the women general approach to problem solving or following an agenda is much better then the male version.

        Males create a list
        -and so on

        Start at the top and go down, deciding one after the other.

        But we are very bad at realizing that point 4 may have effects on point 1 and we've already decided on point 1 so that's that.

        Women tend to jumble it all up together and discuss points 1-4-2-3-1-5-3-2-1-5-4-1-3 before beginning to decide about point 1.

        I know this from political experience where I have been in rooms with only males and where I was the only male. And both groups tend to describe this about themselves and the opposite gender.

        So we may never know what roles serve us best or why so it's best to let each person decide on what they wish to do and not assign them roles at birth.
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      Jun 8 2013: One of the supporting Op-Ed piece, which I assume to did not look at:
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    Jun 8 2013: I'd have to disagree with Philip Zimbardo observations One visit to my young cousins Facebook accounts and I discover an intimacy that did not exist with my generation and we were the Love Children.

    Through online media, young adults today are learning ways of interacting with the opposite sex, or partners, that were only whispered about when I was a young man. I learn everything from scratch. Most high school students enter into the adult world with the entire Kamasutra embedded in their minds from chronic exposure to adult themes from the internet.

    This has to affect their sense of intimacy. Intimacy is a learned social process. It starts very young in life with touching, hugging, and learning to be responsible for the feeling of other family members. Hopefully as children grow and move on, they will take these lessons with them. This is what I'm seeing the normal world.

    There are many apartment dwellings where more than one group of young adults live with one another to make ends meet. They are getting a sense of groupness that we weren't exposed to, due to the current economic decline. I notice that my Grandmother and her generation were very focused on each others feelings and needs. I attribute this to the same economic decline called the Great Depression. People had to come together. In countries where this did not occur, it ended in the devastation we call WWII.

    It's just an opinion, with out any real research but I think it may point to some considerable conclusions should someone decide to investigate. I will say this: I see a familiar pattern in many families that appears to move forward with every modern generation. That is, a father's tendency to be more protective of their daughters. My last words to my grandson when his parents picked him up today was: "...keep a good eye on your sister and take care of her."

    We naturally tend to protect the female kind. Even if they don't want it. Observe the obstacles facing the driven military woman today
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      Jun 8 2013: Re: "Intimacy is a learned social process."

      Zimbardo mention that boys play 10,000 of video games. And Ali Carr Chellman mentions the 100 Girl study where boys lag behind in almost every category. Ken Robinson tells us that we are drugging children, mostly boys because they cannot sit still in school.

      Sherry Turkle worries about the future as well because of the same electronics you mention. She says we are "Connected, but alone."

      "Across the generations, I see that people can't get enough of each other, if and only if they can have each other at a distance, in amounts they can control. I call it the Goldilocks effect: not too close, not too far, just right. But what might feel just right for that middle-aged executive can be a problem for an adolescent who needs to develop face-to-face relationships. An 18-year-old boy who uses texting for almost everything says to me wistfully, "Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I'd like to learn how to have a conversation."

      When I ask people "What's wrong with having a conversation?" People say, "I'll tell you what's wrong with having a conversation. It takes place in real time and you can't control what you're going to say." So that's the bottom line. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body -- not too little, not too much, just right.

      Human relationships are rich and they're messy and they're demanding. And we clean them up with technology."

      I fear there is cause to worry about the next generation of men?
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        Jun 8 2013: These are closeted opinions, without real, controlling bases in the normal world Theodore.

        Intimacy is required in those families where the young are needed to care for the old or disabled. My Grandson cut my lawn last weekend. Of course I give him money which he needs to buy stuff, but he has done it for free in hard times. My wife always makes him his favorite dinner. We babysit our grandchildren for our adult kids while they work.

        While some children are drugged to make them more manageable, the real culprit is processed sugar which is found in almost every food product in our country. Teaching children this simple fact is suppressed by the sugar industry and teachers are not in the habit of educating our kids, in a soundly way, that might interfere with good economic tranquility.

        There was an attempt in Panama City, Florida by the director of the health department and some teachers to educate the general public. They were hounded out of their jobs by our mutual friends Mr. Mac and the King of all burgers.

        Things are going well along family lines in the grand state of Georgia, where family is the source off all inspiration, money for drugs is in short supply and watermelon is still affordable. Granted we have our share of problems but Fathering children and taking care of the family is usually enforced, unofficially, in the social networks of the neighborhood, not on the advice of experts.

        I hear it is the same in Mississippi and Alabama with some parts of Texas adhering also.

        As to those future generations of violent men, they don't serve sugar in prison because the inmates make alcohol drinks with it. :) If we could use this to our advantage and incorporate a good rehabilitation program in our prisons, we can save those lost souls before they hurt us. With the highest number of incarcerated people in the world, the US and experts, should focus on this concern. It would be cheaper and we would have to pay less expert salaries.
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          Jun 8 2013: What does fathering children and taking care of the family mean to you? if money is your #1 answer then I strongly disagree and to enforce this by imprisonment is a string of wrong answers to the poor economical states of today reflecting modern day slavery of man.
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    Jun 6 2013: I'm throwing myself into this conversation with the following contribution.

    I think that there are 'stereotypical' roles that males play inside a family.
    The man of the house and all that.

    However, we live in a time that education is available to pretty much all males and females.
    And despite our gender, there are natural talents and cultivated talents that each individual brings into a marriage.

    For example, I'll just share one.
    When our shower started dripping we fixed it with the help of the youtube video, I walked my husband through the fixing of the shower. ( I also found the video that solved our problem)

    I did not want to get my hands dirty. He doesn't mind dirty hands. :D
    But I had the understanding of how the work is done.
    So we worked interdependently on this project.

    I think male roles are changing with time.
    But only for those males who want to change with the times.

    When only one role is placed on any one human, male or female, with no flexibility, I find that to be unhealthy.
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    Jun 5 2013: I have found they are very good changing lightbulbs. Also, the other day there was a wire mix-up and we couldn't watch Netflix and my husband had it fixed almost instantly.
    I am kidding. He took a while. :)
    I have to ask you, Theodore. Do you mean modern families where? Culture and economy are very important aspects to consider. In some cultures women might bring more money to the house, and still, the man has the last call on everything.
    I believe that while it is true that men and women are becoming more and more alike in many aspects, each provides very different things.
    Women are nurture, men are protection. Although I've seen these roles inverted in some very few cases.
    Money shouldn't define whether you rule or your spouse rules. I think men, as women, bring something very important to the table: balance.
    And I for one, like it.
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      Jun 5 2013: Did you look at the articles in the NY Times or any of the TED Talks?
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    Jun 5 2013: Hi Theodore,

    Another great talk to tag into this conversation is:

    I'll have to think about this topic a while before I contribute.
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      Jun 5 2013: Thank you for pointing this talk out.
      I thought I had included it but was mistaken.
  • Jun 16 2013: Theodore you are right. I find I fall into this thinking as well - not just in what I have written here but generally speaking. I give much less thought to the relationships I already have established - mother - son , father - son, sister - brother than I do to the future father - child and husband - wife relationships I see myself forming in the future. I look forward to your close statements. I am sure they will be enlightening and challenge me to think of my relationships and social roles in new ways.
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    Jun 15 2013: Because fathers have a special role in their children's lives, they also have a remarkable opportunity to share lessons that can influence and impact their sons and daughters in significant and enduring ways. But how many of us have actually taken time to sit with our sons and daughters to discuss a subject of tremendous consequence -- how to have healthy relationships?

    Proudly, I join fathers around the country today in urging dads to have serious and substantive conversations with their sons and daughters, not only about the perils of drugs and alcohol or the importance of education, but about what it means to have healthy relationships.
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      Jun 17 2013: It's indeed wonderful that celebrities are taking a valuable stand on this matter.

      I agree with you that fathers should not only contribute to feeding the family and taking care of safety. On the other hand though, does every father and mother have enough self-awareness, good will and time to teach how to have healthy relationships?

      What I remember was my father telling me "come here, boy, let's have a look at a swiss army knife", it was my mother that told me about other things. Would my being a boy change that? If so, how?

      I believe it's not only the parents' role to teach those lessons. A child is never isolated from other influences in the community and should not be. In some cases being able to observe other relationships may be a positive influence, even though the relationships in question are imperfect.
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    Jun 12 2013: send some of the money home via bank transfer. occasionally like wife's posts on facebook.
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    Jun 10 2013: I could not finish reading this. I began to feel aggressively ill. Imagine how much hate paste I would get here if I said, "In reality, many children are better off motherless" much less write about it in NYtimes and putting it in my headline. I'd be stoned to death by men and women. What is really going on people? The nerve is outstanding.
    • Jun 10 2013: Agree, I think the best debater there is Brad Harrington. One of the many important points he makes is this one:
      "And indeed, as the Pew study rolled out in newspapers, on television and in social media, the main reaction was to celebrate it as a sign of women’s greater economic empowerment. But the dirty little secret is that in 5 out of 8 of these households, the woman was not just the primary breadwinner; she was the only breadwinner, without a partner."
      I think his main point is that it is not a competition but running a family should be team-work.

      People do not know what makes a man a man, or what makes a woman a woman. It is not the body, even though down to the very cells they differ.

      This is about what I believe is the reason why and what gender is all about.
  • Jun 10 2013: I can't help but think that if peoples ideals about family and manogamy where not so ridged, we wouldn't see so much heart ache and disapointment on this issue.
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      Jun 10 2013: Craig could you expound?

      Your comment is a bit ambiguous.
      • Jun 10 2013: I think peoples expectations are too high in regards to marriage and having the perfect family setup. When relationships break down, we see this as failure.

        Sorry for the poor explanation, i find i difficult to express myself in text form. It took me half an hour just to come up with this.
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          Jun 10 2013: Craig, thanks for your fine effort.
          Yes, too high have a point there.

          Perhaps the fairy tales and disney princess movies should not stop with the wedding?

          All relationships take alot of work to make them work.
          Being forgiving of other's shortcomings also helps alot.

          Thank you.
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    Jun 9 2013: Don, thank you for the links. Please post them again.
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    Jun 9 2013: Does this seem like a mentally stable mother to anyone? Ask me if the courts give a hoot.

    I want you to know how happy I am with you. I really appreciate you continuing to attend AC school, even though you may not like it. And I'm glad you got your foot in the door of something you love doing, though you know I have my doubts about those people. I just wanted you to know because I so rarely tell you.

    I am crazy. At least I think I am going crazy. I feel like I have no control over my emotions anymore. I feel weak and I'm not used to that at all. I have always been strong and I feel like I am about to melt away. Many times I am happy but it seems much more of the time I am sad, angry, overwhelmed...crazy. There is nothing to point at and say, aha, it's that. It's more of an overall feeling. It's in my head, it makes it spin sometimes. It takes so little to make me angry and so much to make me calm down now. I don't like it, yet I can't stop it. It's like watching myself from out of my body. Crazy. I have a hard time talking about this. I do think I need help. Dear god, I can't believe I'm saying that, but I do think so. I don't want my kids growing up and looking back and remembering their crazy mom. Kinda like I do with certain things about my mom. Maybe it runs in the family. Maybe my mom got the crazies after she had me and my stillborn sibling. But she would never admit that she got crazy and if she did, she would say something that would make me feel more guilty than admitting that I'm crazy and I need help. And yeah, I feel guilty. I'm guilty because I should be able to hold it together. I always have. What is different now? Just the kids? Really? Shouldn't I be able to hold it together? On a daily basis I think I'm losing mind. There is usually a week where everything seems "normal", then the crazy comes back. What the hell is wrong with me?
  • Jun 9 2013: The future is not far when men will be treated like stray dogs.
    • Jun 9 2013: Not if I can help it, Santokh!!! :)
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      Jun 9 2013: You do not paint a very nice picture of men in our future Santokh, and there are a LOT of really nice, considerate, compassionate men in our world, who are treated with kindness and respect. Did you ever hear the saying....what goes around, comes around.....or.... the golden rule? We all need to "BE" what we want to "SEE" in our world.
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      Jun 9 2013: Santokh: I am sure you did not think before you posted your opinion. If you did think, what exactly is in your mind? Could you elaborate? Are you talking about evolution or feminists taking over the world. If you suppose the later, I must say you are mistaken.
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        Jun 10 2013: Why is it so hard to imagine women (feminist) taking over the world Kiran?
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          Jun 10 2013: John: We now live in the era where we use our brains to think and don't blindly follow what men/women of cloth preaches (Its true that all religions used to treat women as second class citizens). We believe in equality and I do not think women will or can take over men in totality. Women are better at some aspects and so are men in others. And we mostly live in democratic countries and I do not suppose percentage of men would dwindle down to minority that women should take over the world.
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        Jun 10 2013: I understand the Era we live in. Let's say we are talking about a future era.

        In every battle, you have slight men and bulky muscular men. Once a few slight fellows, take out all the big killers, the battle is kinda even between the slight guys. Why can it not be so with women?

        A large group of warrior females clash with some guys. Using their brains and better battle strategy, they take out the hulking killers leaving the average fellows to fight against. On the average, men of equal stature with women, are no more or less likely to win in a physical confrontation. My sister use to take me out all the time.

        Combining this conclusion with the the use of weaponry further levels the battle field. Why is it hard to image women getting violently disillusioned with male dominance and doing something about it in an aggressive manner? Perhaps in a future era. Kiran?.
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      Jun 10 2013: Why do you say that Saggu?
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          Jun 9 2013: Mr. Wesley,

          Fighting fairly? Really? Do you really think men can take the responsibility of raising kids equally as women? I don't think so, it is not physically possible. So we men must make it convenient for women in other aspects.
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        Jun 9 2013: I'm nothing like you, Kiran. You are nothing like me. I do believe a man like myself can take responsibility of raising my kids equally (I go no further saying equally, this is no pee contest) to any mother. We all have different virtues with equalities. Not physically possible? Breast feeding??? I understand that alone.
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      Jun 9 2013: Don,
      The topic, as presented is..."So, what is the purpose of men in modern families?"
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        Jun 9 2013: To be sperm banks with financial attachments is what I feel many women believe today.
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          Jun 9 2013: And many of us believe something different Vincent. I respect men who are respectable, admire men who are admirable, care about men who are caring......etc. etc.

          Perhaps I can help bridge the gap:>)
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    Jun 9 2013: Yes Arkady, it is true of Muslim in General. It is how they are conditioned by their Religion. I don't know what stories you've heard but I read in the news all the time about honor killings, throwing acid in the faces of women who try to incorporate modern western ideals into their way of life.

    As Muslims become more modernized, they are affected the same way as western people. It is the Religion that reinforces their practices, so, they drift away from religion.

    Moving away from the religions teachings of the Muslim people is tantamount to blasphemy. It is a death sentence. They beat their women so they won't have to kill them. By beating their women and daughters, they think they are protecting them. It is their way.

    The only reason it doesn't happen in western cultures is because there are laws against beating one's wife or daughter. There are no such laws in Saudi Arabia or Iran, etc. There are no laws against a forced marriage between a 12 year old girl and a 60 year old man either.

    This is not Muslim hate rhetoric, this is a dissertation on how it really is in their Religion and how it is supported within their governments.

    I have many Muslim friends. When my wife asserts her western minded ideas I can see the anger in their eyes, even though they try to be civil. They really get angry at our western minded women in the US. They feel belittled if a woman asserts herself in other male company. They feel compelled to do something about it.
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    Jun 9 2013: Colleen,
    The comment was there for you to think about. I have thought it through. I've fought women in combat. I know what they are capable of. However, it is not well known how western society women will preform in continued combat on a large scale.

    It is something new for American women. Over time they will have to develop their own philosophies and understandings and, of course, this will influence the over all philosophy of our military structure. It will take time for these things to become a reality. I am, of course talking about such ideas as an all female combat infantry battalion, which, to my knowledge has not been done in modern Armies, except for Vietnam during the war. There were many all female Vietnamese battalions during that conflict. There were some in Japan during WWII but only for the defense of the homeland. There were never seriously tested. It's really not a question of how women will preform. Women can perform as well as men, with the exception of close, hand to hand combat. The real question is how will men perform alongside them. Is it possible for men to stay hunkered down in their position while the enemy tortures one of the female soldiers, forcing her to scream out. It happens in real combat with men. In my mind, it would drive me to do something crazy, which is exactly what they want.

    It will take time. I don't think War will become too unfashionable any time soon.

    As to the Muslim culture of suppressing women, yes, I feel their culture is violently geared towards suppressing women. I attended college with an Iranian women. She used to come to school with bruises all the time. She told us how it is in her country and confirmed it was culturally integrated via their religious practices. There is a big difference between eastern Muslims and western ones. Caps are not needed.

    The amount of rape that goes on in the Military is small. You can't insinuate that it is an all male problem.
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      Jun 9 2013: John Moonstroller,
      It looks like this comment may be a reply to my other comment?

      "Colleen Steen
      11 hours ago: According to research AND reality John Moonstroller, it DOES indeed have an impact.

      You say..."Islamic social structures, where women are considered nothing more than breeding stock and pleasure apparatus for males."

      You also write..."After we have lost a few hundred females in hard combat in military service, it will be interesting to see how role models change."

      We HAVE lost females in combat....females who were fighting alongside males who were/are raping them.....think about your comments John."

      You are correct is not known "how western society women will preform in continued combat on a large scale."

      I agree that "Women can perform as well as men", and the amount of rapes that go on in the military IS NOT small, as we see from evidence that is surfacing recently.

      However, this topic is...."what is the purpose of men in modern families?". So, let's try to stay on topic.
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        Jun 9 2013: No Problem with staying on topic colleen. NOT, replying to comments you deem off topic is one way to ACCOMPLISH that condition.

        Sometimes, to protect the family, a man has to take up a weapon and march off to war. It is not something MOST men enjoy. It is still a major purpose of men in the modern family, so it is on topic.

        I know women are fully capable but I just can't imagine men staying home while our women march off to war, as a viable path to winning a war. Not if the enemy are male warriors. Sorry but REALITY has demonstrated this many times over the centuries.

        When the world can leave violence and war behind itself, perhaps our discussion on which is the better role model in a family of a modern Class I Civilization might offer some surprises. For the time being, men are severely distracted by the complication of a violent planet to properly play the family game. We are severely dependent on women to make our children understand why daddy can't be home right now. Perhaps is has escaped your notice but the world is in a state of war right now. Thankfully we are not launching Nukes at one another....yet. But we are seriously fighting with one another. Change looms large on the future horizon.

        It may have been a team of women who found Osama Bin Laden but it was a team of MEN that took him out. Women have their place in the defensive violence game.

        I'm on topic. Thank you for your advice.
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          Jun 9 2013: There are plenty of women who go off to war, while their partners stay home John.....that is apparently a choice some partners make.

          I am not at all arguing who is "the better role model in a family" John. I am addressing the topic. We tell our children why "daddy can't be home right now", and we also tell lots of children why mommy isn't home right now. Yes, I am aware of the wars in our world John.
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    Jun 8 2013: TEDX Talks are great but sometimes under watched.

    TEDxIsfeld Bill Pozzobon: Breaking the Boys Code of Masculinity

    "Bill has worked on gender and violence issues with youth and educators for over a decade. In his role as Director of the SafeTeen Boy's Program, he trains the new SafeTeen Agents for Change and co-leads Educator Trainings locally, nationally and internationally. With humour and skill Bill invites the boys and men he works with to step into their full humanity with dignity and courage."
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    Jun 8 2013: Breeding stock.
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      Jun 8 2013: That's a very interesting comment Ricardo. Could you expound a bit?

      When you study Humanities, you discover our philosophies have not changed very much through the centuries.
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        Jun 8 2013: In the past gender roles were important to our culture. But I believe in the modern world, men and women should play no different role except for the one designated by their biology.
  • Jun 8 2013: i think there are a ton of essential things that can only be taught by men (not restricted to fathers, can be grandfathers, uncles, etc) because women don't understand them. i'll start the ball rolling but i hope others will join in with their own:

    1. the importance of a firm handshake
    2. the importance of looking another man in the eye
    3. how to learn by first trying to fix something yourself rather than immediately asking for help
    4. the importance of doing the right thing even when it's not the safest thing
    5. moving on from disagreements rather than maintaining dislike
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      Jun 8 2013: I teach my granddaughter this stuff.
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      Jun 8 2013: Ben,

      "1. the importance of a firm handshake
      2. the importance of looking another man in the eye
      3. how to learn by first trying to fix something yourself rather than immediately asking for help
      4. the importance of doing the right thing even when it's not the safest thing
      5. moving on from disagreements rather than maintaining dislike"

      1. Is it really that important, and if it is should it really be... does it really matter? What characteristics does it show?
      2. Eye contact is very important, but that is not a male invention and it is not confined to men. It's just as important for a man to look a woman in the eye or for a woman to look a man in the eye. Both genders can teach this.
      3. This is something that is very important for BOTH women and men. Much of it comes down to self-esteem and self-confidence, something that women may even need a bit more of, and they get that best by learning that other women can do it too.
      4.This is so clearly for both genders, should men be the only ones that risk health and life to do the right thing? Should women stay at home and just hope for the best?
      5. This is also true for both men and women, I really don't see how you can think that only men know how to do and/or teach these things...
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        Jun 8 2013: Ben and Jimmy,
        I think some of what Ben says is cultural.

        When I read the original list, I thought, huh......I'm the one that taught #1 and #3 to my son.....#1 I teach to every kid (boy) who comes to shake my hand...if it is wimpy, I tell him, shake my hand like you mean it!! However, while men shake each other's hands firmly, some will shake a women's hand delicately.....sometimes barely touching her.....I personally dislike this wimpy kind of handshake, but that's me.

        #2 is something I have observed in my husband....we have never spoken about it though. Interesting.

        #4 is always practiced.

        #5 this is interesting.......because I think that you cannot move on from a disagreement unless you come to some sort of concensus. Many times the concensus is let's agree to disagree, but if it is not stated out loud, still the other party "maintains dislike". For the most part I have observed men to have a need to "move on" and not dwell on disagreements.

        Jimmy, believe it or not Ben is stating some behaviors that are very common in some men, but not 'all' men. Again, it is cultural, in my opinion....and even inside cultures, it depends on one's upbringing.
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          Jun 9 2013: I am replying to your post below that has no reply button.

          When you wrote that some men are shy and reserved and uncomfortable with forming an emotional bond with their kids, my first thought was my early reading about child development in which the writers made a distinction between the typically highly verbal play among girls and the greater prevalence of a side-by-side, working-on-stuff-together-with fewer-words-exchanged dynamic that is perhaps more typically in boys.

          Fortunately showing boys how to do things may work pretty well even for the shy and reserved father.
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      Jun 8 2013: Dear Ben,
      All my life I have joyfully practiced all the things you say "women don't understand".

      1. the importance of a firm handshake
      I've gotten lots of positive feedback on my firm handshake from both men and women. It has always felt more genuine to me.

      2. the importance of looking another man in the eye
      I have always looked people in the eye when having a conversation....again, it feels more genuine, more interesting, and more in tune with the person.

      3. how to learn by first trying to fix something yourself rather than immediately asking for help
      I ALWAYS try to fix or install "stuff" BEFORE reading the directions or asking for help....didn't know that was a "guy" thing!

      4. the importance of doing the right thing even when it's not the safest thing
      5. moving on from disagreements rather than maintaining dislike
      You think 4&5 are "guy" things too? Now I'm wondering if perhaps I am failing at womanhood 101!!!Just kidding:>)
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        Jun 9 2013: I was raised with these practices as well and passed them along to my daughters and son.
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          Jun 9 2013: I passed them all on to my daughter AND son too Fritzie, because I perceive them as human traits, rather than male or female.
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          Jun 9 2013: I like the idea of a father passing on certain things to the kids....specially if there are boys in the family.

          Things like learning to pitch a ball, and learning to change a tire, and learning to put on a tie, and hook a worm on a fishing line.

          I don't mind these things that Ben said......I find them as wonderful traditions for father/sons.

          But I have come to realize that not all man have the personality necessary to carry forth this kind of emotional bond with their kids. Some men, just don't know how to pass on anything....they might be very shy and reserved and passive individuals who just work hard and want to come home to a nice homecooked meal, some tv, and a good night's rest.

          I think that is your dad does alot of things with you.....then Great....but if it is your mom, well then....wonderful!!

          They are, like Colleen says, human traits.

          The sad part is, when neither your dad, or your mom teaches you any of these.
          Then you are left to learn it from others, or by yourself. Or perhaps, never to learn them at all. :(
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    Jun 7 2013: None of the replies have mention the role of "grandfathers" and I find that interesting.
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      Jun 7 2013: I knew neither of my grandfathers and my children knew one of theirs only from annual visits. From my very limited experience, then, with grandfathers, I would say that interacting with the grandchildren with love is their greatest role.

      What other role a grandfather might play is probably person specific.For any of us, what we give is related to our interests, skills, health, experiences... Some might tell stories that anchor children in their family histories. some might teach the child how to carve, to play an instrument, or to bake bread. Some might help the kids with math or read to them. My elderly neighbor as I was growing up shared the stories of all the operas and read us things from the encyclopedia.

      Some are close enough and young enough to be part of children's daily lives and to talk with them about hopes, dreams, values, or schoolwork.

      I know these roles are no different from roles a grandmother might play, except that the underlying life experience and the lessons learned are likely different.

      We need Edward to chime in on this, as he is the only regular participant I can think of who regularly mentions a grandchild.
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      Jun 8 2013: It is interesting. My generation made such a mess of our social network that I find myself re-instructing my kids and many times deprogramming my grand-kids. :)
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        Jun 8 2013: Examples please.
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          Jun 8 2013: It's hard to explain Mary. I'm not sure I can with such little space.

          Re-instructing my kids is telling them to apply consistent rules of the house, no jumping on the furniture, pick up your toys. Get ride if age inappropriate toys. Show more equality in emotional expression with the kids, instead of focusing on one (usually the granddaughter), which creates sibling rivalry..

          Deprogramming would be me applying those same principles at my home, rigorously.
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        Jun 8 2013: Thanks John for your reply.
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    Jun 7 2013: .
    My answer to the good question of "Why will we all become asexual?" ( from Jessica McNeilly, 1 hour ago)

    It is because all of our feeling of being happy validly, growing and bio-evolving are need-led.
    Their inverse theorem should work here.


    I am realy very glad to talk with you.
    Thanks again.
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    Jun 6 2013: I recently saw the documentary, "Stories We Tell"
    "In this inspired, genre-twisting new film, Oscar®-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley discovers that the truth depends on who's telling it. Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers. She playfully interviews and interrogates a cast of characters of varying reliability, eliciting refreshingly candid, yet mostly contradictory, answers to the same questions."

    I'll let the cat out of the bag, (spoiler alert) and disclose that the story is about how Sarah uncovers the truth about who her biological father really is, and the controversies it creates for those involved.
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    Jun 6 2013: .
    My answer:

    Based on well-proven common sense, the purpose of men in families is:

    (1) In 10,000 years ago,
    to get food/habitat/security for the families in order to keep the families’ DNA alive.

    (2) Today and in the future,
    the men useless for keeping DNA alive will disappear through bio-evolution.
    Also, sexual love and beauty will disappear, too.

    • Jun 6 2013: Depressing. What about that their kids simple love them?
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        Jun 7 2013: .Thanks!
        Today's human "depressing" will disappear, too.
        Yes, their asexual mother will love the kids.

        • Jun 7 2013: I don't think I understand. Why will we all become asexual? I am not being rude I am interested in your thoughts. (I am here to learn and think)
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      Jun 6 2013: So according to #2, men will disappear? not women?
      Could you elaborate?
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        Jun 7 2013: .Thanks!

        Both disappear!
        Evolve back to asexual reproduction.

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          Jun 7 2013: Right?

          We'll have to wait and see, won't we?
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    R H

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    Jun 5 2013: Ha! I would say modern families are no longer dictatorships but democracies, so men, depending on what positions they hold within that 'familial unit', are representatives of their interests and those of any subordinates. Often though, it's more like a game show and they're voted on or off, succumb to double/triple/quadrouple jeopardy, and assume bailbondsmenship. Like Tina said "what's love got to do with it?" ;)
    • Jun 6 2013: With divorce rates higher than ever, you've got a good point here R H.
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      Jun 6 2013: I think that with women knowing they have choices, they see men as something to be replaced in a family.
      However, I believe some men also see women this way. As replaceable.
      Isn't this a society ill in general.
      We throw away things, and also people?
      (Lizanne, I'm thinking of the vimeo landfillharmonic right now)
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        R H

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        Jun 6 2013: Yes, replaceable is a better word than disposable. All kidding aside, I can't speak for all men, but as one I have often thought that men have 'thrown it all away'. We've tossed our dignity aside for ease. We've relinquished our power to brutality. Instead of turning our aggression as a healthy, invigorating productive instinct, we hide behind its inevitability and devolve into something that would shame the beasts. Most women I've known want a man to be a man, but because we've done such a poor job they've decided that it's no longer worth the effort or necessary. They'll just try to do things better themselves.
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          Jun 7 2013: I think the male/female relationship is very complex.

          I personally feel that we just don't understand enough about our makeup and then we enter into long term relationships not fully understanding what makes us tick, let alone understand another human fully.

          I also think society does a poor job of portraying male role models on tv and in books.

          Each of us has something unique to bring into a family. If we enter a family unit with the spirit of interdependency, and with the steadfastness required to make the relationship work and good communication skills, then it has more potential for success.
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        R H

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        Jun 7 2013: I think you 'hit the nail on the head'. "...we just don't understand enough about our makeup...". I have a favorite quote: 'You have to be a person before you can be a partner'. But I think we do know enough. I think the sages throughout all of our history have told us over and over what it takes to be successful with each other, what works and what doesn't , and what it is we're made of. But we don't want to do it. We want to succumb to our inordinate passions and our 'easy' ignorance because we can, because we say 'we're too busy' surviving and don't need such skills to do so. It's therefore 'understandable' that we remain at odds with each other. As we continue to make excuses for our behavior, I feel the behavior will continue.
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          Jun 7 2013: RH, yes, I fully agree with you.

          I have this conversation all the time with people around me.
          It is sad to have the knowledge of what works, and have the ability to apply it and be happy in a relationship, but giving in to the path of least resistance.

          I once told someone, "it is so easy to love and to be kind and friendly........but it is easier not to".

          When I first joined TED I remember there was a conversation about how being indifferent is a very powerful emotion. Sometimes I think that alot of people are indifferent as to whether a relationship works or not.

          Sometimes it is difficult to get people to open up about their true feelings. And also, personality types play a big role in the workings of relationships.

          I think you are right.....the behavior will is a real shame.....and yes......there is alot we just don't know....
  • Jun 5 2013: We in theory do two things women don't. Maybe one now. However, if you are a vet- join your alumni affinity organization. I know in the United States Marines - the peace time vets like me have their parts all attached - the combat vets are often different. Okay, if the ladies are in the wrong place, I don't object to them doing their thing, but the point of the sword is different. In personal life don't think women aren't abusers and have hurt people. Any of us who have been divorce lawyers can tell stories. Don't just pick on the guys - be equal opportunity in you criticisms.
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    Jun 5 2013: Do you as a man have a perspective on this?
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      Jun 5 2013: Yes, I do, and thank you for asking.
      I have been studying the subject of human relationship for the better part of three years and have some thoughts that I will pass along here. But for now I would like to sit back and hear from others first.
      I will be sure to inform you when I do as I appreciate many of your thoughtful comments on TED.
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    Jun 5 2013: Concept of "FAMILY" and roles of it's different members varies from country to country, culture to culture , time to time etc.
    Even within same time , same geography it may vary tribe to tribe.
    Is this discussion around only US families ? Even if it is so, US being a multicultural country which culture this discussion is about?

    It was interesting to see in the link of the post below that Man is defined to be "largely white, middle class, middle aged ....!!! who are the rest with XY chromosome within then ?
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    Jun 5 2013: I will start this conversation off with an except from the Wiki about a book I read awhile back that tries to answer the question asked here.

    Iron John: A Book About Men is a book by American poet Robert Bly published in 1990 by Addison-Wesley, and his best known work to the public at large.[1] An exegesis of Iron John, a parable about a boy maturing into adulthood (monomyth) with help of the wild man, and part of the Grimms' Fairy Tales published in 1812 by German folklorists Brothers Grimm, it spent 62 weeks on the The New York Times Best Seller list and went on to become a pioneering work in mythopoetic men's movement.[2]
    It uses Jungian psychology, various myths, legends, folklores, and fairy tales [1] to analyze Iron John in Bruno Bettelheim fashion, to find lessons especially meaningful to men and men's movement.[3] Bly believes that this fairy tale contains lessons from the past of great importance to modern men.
    It builds upon material in "What Do Men Really Want?: A New Age Interview With Robert Bly" by Keith Thompson, New Age Journal, May 1982 and first appeared as a series of pamphlets.

    One of the links at this entry lead to a second New York Time article from 20 years that I hope others will look at:
    What Do Men Want? A Reading List For the Male Identity Crisis

    "Unlike much of the feminist literature, which is unified by its sense of moral outrage over the historical subordination and exploitation of women by men, the men's crisis literature is unified by a sense of ontological anxiety: in a post-modern world lacking clear-cut borders and distinctions, it has become hard to know what it means to be a man and even harder to feel good about being one."

    What have we learned in twenty years?