One of the great challenges in helping dads to become more involved, responsible, and committed in the lives of their children is to help dads overcome the toxic model of masculinity that thrives in America.
The model’s calling card is to hinder dads’ healthy expression of emotions and ability to develop emotionally intimate relationships with others. As a consequence, it hampers dads’ ability to properly care for themselves and to connect in emotionally intimate ways with other men, their partners, and their children. Therefore, it’s vital for anyone who serves dads to help them explore the degree to which they subscribe to this toxic model.
That’s why the fatherhood programs of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) include an exploration of masculinity. Our programs bring this toxic model into dads’ awareness so they can reflect on their own view of what it means to be a man and, if necessary, change their view for their own benefit and, most important, so they can become a model of healthy masculinity for their children. It’s also why you should seek out other resources that can help dads take an even deeper dive into this vital aspect of becoming the best dad possible.
I recently became aware of a documentary called “The Mask You Live In.” I was made aware of it by a member of NFI’s Father Engagement Learning Community™. (If you aren’t familiar with this free, online peer-to-peer community, I encourage you to check it out and join.) This member uses the film to help dads learn about this toxic model of masculinity and why it wreaks such destruction in the lives of boys, men, and dads, and in the lives of the people they love. It also helps them understand the broader implications of this model for our society.
As an applied anthropologist who has studied masculinity and fatherhood cross-culturally, I can say without equivocation that it’s one of the best treatments of this toxic model I’ve ever seen. What I appreciate most about the film is how it shows that this model is blind to race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status.
I encourage you to watch the trailer. (Please note that it contains some language that might be offensive to some people.) If you agree with my assessment of the film and can see a way to integrate it into your work with dads, you can rent, buy, or stream the film at an affordable cost. Click here to learn more about the film and where you can rent, buy, or stream it.
How do you help dads explore the toxic model of masculinity that thrives in America?
How do you help dads learn that it’s acceptable and ideal to develop emotionally intimate relationships with other men, their partners, and their children?