This week's blog has been crafted by Dr Jonathan Ramachenderan, a GP in Western Australia. As he writes on his blog page:
"I am a rural generalist in beautiful Albany, Western Australia. I got married to my beautiful wife Kylie in 2004 when I was 24 and we have been blessed with 3 boys. Our lives are ALWAYS interesting, sometimes a little messy but nonetheless full of adventure."
It was the end of a long day of operating and we’d finished more cases than we’d set out to complete.
Drearily my eyes looked across the operating room and caught Steven’s gaze, as he longingly studied the clock.
It was nearly home time.
“So what are you eating tonight?” I asked him, knowing exactly what he was thinking about.
“How did you know that I was thinking about food?!” he asked, looking surprised and instantly connected with me.
“You had that look in your eye and I know what guys are usually thinking about!”, I joking replied.
It is true.
Being a man and father to three boys, I can tell you that guys are usually thinking about:
Sprinkled often between these is deep work thinking.
Innocently my sons aged 2–8 usually think in terms of:
Regardless of these inherent thoughts, I believe that all men share the same deep desires that frame our thinking and therefore our behaviour.
From birth right through childhood, entering into awkward adolescence and the freedom of young adulthood and right up until death, men all share the same deep desire to be loved, wanted and feel worth.
“Am I good enough?”
“Do I measure up to expectation?”
“Have I done well?”
“Are you proud of me?”
“Do you love me?”
It is my observation and belief that many of the social, emotional and behavioural problems that men face as adults, stem from a disruption of these core desires, being left unfulfilled and these questions left unanswered.
There are countless men that I have counselled, consulted with and helped, who at the very core of their being are asking these questions and but chasing after the wrong things, because they are looking to appease a deep unrest in their identity and purpose.
In writing this, I in no way excuse the depravity, senseless violence and unspeakable actions of men who done harm to others but am expressing the beautiful nature in boys and the deep longing in men to feel appreciated and wanted.
The power of simple encouragement
As a married man, the person I seek the greatest approval from, is my wife.
The times that she says that she is proud of me or that she appreciates what I’ve done for our family or that what I’ve written is the best she’s read so far, these simple words give me confidence for weeks and most importantly settles my deep desire of having a purpose and being appreciated and accepted.
Her encouragement pushes me to serve her better, work harder and to find new ways to live out my purpose as husband, father and doctor.
Similarly, the opposite is true
Men who have consistently been taunted for not measuring up, who have been told that they are disappointments and been stripped of confidence daily by their family, intimate partners and people of influence in their lives, will feel small, unappreciated and never strive with confidence to be any better.
I have been incredibly fortunate in my life to have had parents who both told me that I was worth it and encouraged me at every turn, even when I had messed up.
The most important thing that my parents did, was to lead me to Christ who answered my deep desire to belong and to be called for a purpose greater than myself.
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
What do men and boys need?
Men and boys need to experience the simple but incredible power of encouragement, that answers the questions from their deep desires.
I’ve written previously about the positive effect it has had upon my sons and how uplifting it has been to my patients.
My message of hope today, is for both men and women is to encourage a man or boy in your life.
Be it a son, husband, friend or acquaintance, speak out the good that they are doing today and answer those deep questions that they asking themselves.
“You are worth it”
“I am proud of you”
“I love you"
Understanding that from a very young age, men have a longing for legacy, for purpose, feeling wanted, appreciated and loved.
An encouraged and confident man I believe does not need to seek approval through frivolous pursuits and foolish means.
But he has heart which is at peace and a desire that has been quenched through powerful words whispered into his soul.