(HOST) For filmmaker, teacher and commentator Jay Craven, Father’s Day has special meaning this year.
Father’s Day rolls around each June, but this year I find myself
thinking about it more than usual – probably because the youngest of my
two sons just graduated from high school. So, I’m reflecting on some of
the fathering I maybe did OK along with other things I wish I’d done
better. I’m also feeling how much I’ll miss my boy.
Many people agree that it’s difficult to raise children in today‘s
hyper-paced world where our kids are so wired to electronic media and
fewer seem to connect to the wonders of nature, community, or even
family. As the father of boys, I’m also aware of a gender gap, where
girls often seem to place higher value on academic achievement. At my
son’s recent graduation, the valedictorian and salutatorian were both
girls. The school’s baccalaureate service featured student reflections
on the idea of love. Only girls spoke – apparently because no boys
stepped forward. Of the 34 local grads I counted in the school’s
National Honor Society, only six were boys.
Perhaps schools serve
girls better-but I’ve felt for a while that, during the past 35 years,
women have also effectively championed girls, giving them support –
maybe even permission – to achieve. I’m not sure that we men have done
as well-or that we’re fully helping our sons discover dynamic new roles
in our fast changing world.
Maybe electronic media loom so large
that they’ve become a kind of parent themselves. Internet, TV, movies,
video games, popular music, and ubiquitous communication through text,
cell phone, Facebook, and Twitter are crowding our kids’ time and
spawning virtual worlds that become more familiar than their
neighborhoods or the woods and streams behind their homes.
is surely a sign of the times – but it can be hard for parents to
compete with the values, attitudes, gender roles, work ethics, civic
responsibilities, and family principles that are shaped-or not shaped in
the virtual world. Parents try to affect the world our kids navigate –
but media sometimes invite them to inhabit extreme or trivial virtual
worlds that lie beyond what we might approve or even understand.
say that TV, films, and video games can incite violence or a
desensitization to violence. I’d argue that excessive exposure to rough
and cold images can just as easily spawn passivity, complacency, and
Few could argue that an imbalance between virtual
reality and a lived, reflected, and connected experience in our actual
world will help our kids engage and cope. I worry that this gap also
contributes to a growing incidence of depression and behavioral
disorders among young people.
This Father’s Day, I’ve had the
pleasure of graduating a son with honors who is headed to college on a
merit scholarship. I’m very proud – but still feel there is more I can
and must do – to pass on values of love, nurturing, deep critical
thinking, the common good, and the profound empathy, imagination, and
generosity that our world so desperately needs.
(TAG) You can find more commentaries by Jay Craven at VPR-dot-net.