ATConnect All >

Grand Designs

We are currently in the ‘Build’ phase of the 2021 Seniors’ theme of ‘Belong’ which continues to influence and inspire our staff and students. It begs the question regarding our Men of Courage Framework: ‘What exactly are we building?’

“Each of us is carving a stone, erecting a column, or cutting a piece of stained glass in the construction of something much bigger than ourselves.” Adrienne Clarkson

The recent social commentary on boys and men continues to deservedly raise fundamental questions about the models of masculinity we should build and celebrate. Our consistent challenge for our young men is to ‘call out’ toxic masculinity. Sadly, those who have the courage to do so risk forms of coercive control that range from being judged and ridiculed to being excluded from their respective social networks. Indeed, it is impossible to escape the confronting reality about the links between coercive control and toxic masculinity. Leaders such as Chanel Contos and Grace Tame as well as victims such as Hannah Clarke and Kelly Wilkinson are tragic testament to this.

The good news is that boys’ behaviours are more cultural than biological. Fortunately, since many of their behaviours are learned, the proactive support of parents and carers is crucial to the success of our collective aspiration of building Men of Courage. Here are a few building materials (and resources) that can help you achieve the grand design of your son:

Build Honesty: You cannot tiptoe around issues of consent anymore. It is also important to be explicit regarding gaming,, risk taking, pornography and sexting.

Build Relationships: Healthy family relationships are important for your son’s development. Building a healthy relationship with your son supports him to cope with challenges and to learn to be independent.

Build Resilience: Initially it is about raising resilient boys who grow into mentally wealthy young men.

Build Wellbeing: Wellbeing helps boys stay resilient, build social support, self-efficacy and cope with adversity. Throughout this minefield it is normal and natural for parents to need support.

Build Engagement: Communication is king when there is a need for you to be their parents and not their friend. It pays to be aware of the range of issues facing teenagers and to know why teenagers rebel against their parents.

Build Equality: Be mindful of the choices you make regarding simple things like clothing e.g. pink and blue; books e.g. stereotypical characters; chores e.g. division of labour; and language e.g. don’t be such a girl!

Build Boundaries: Establish healthy boundaries with your son and teach them about healthy boundaries with others.

Build Emotions:. You have a crucial role to help your son interpret their feelings and behaviours. He needs to be shown how to manage his feelings in positive and constructive ways.

When it comes to the task at hand of collectively building Men of Courage it seems we have a lifetime of work ahead of us! Don’t panic, as when it comes to building Men of Courage, spend on them half as much money and twice as much time.

Indeed, boys are only young once and it is better to use an eraser on the drafting table than a sledgehammer on the construction site.

Conor Finn
Dean of Formation