Let’s Talk about the Boy Child

We can all agree that every child has a right to survive and thrive in his or her life.

We often hear that boys need to be toughened up so as not to be sissies. Parents’ toughness toward babies is even celebrated as “not spoiling the baby.” Wrong! These ideas are based on a misunderstanding of how babies develop. Instead, babies rely on tender, responsive care to grow well—resulting in self-control, social skills, and concern for others. Over the years so much attention was put to lift the girl to higher levels, the society forgot about the boy. The low or no concern towards the boy child has led to the deterioration of boys’ performance in several areas including educational performance to social interaction and overall success. The society was comfortable with the boy child’s situation at the time and unconsciously focused on the girl child to the exclusion of the boy child.

Boy Child Struggles

Many boys graduate from high school, make healthy choices, and reach adulthood prepared for the world of work and the responsibilities of family. Unfortunately, for some boys, the transition to adulthood is more challenging. Some boys become victims of crime or even commit crimes themselves. Some abuse substances at a young age or suffer from mental health problems such as depression. Others perform poorly in school or drop out. There are also disparities among boys based on family structure, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and the places where they live. Recent headlines have asserted that there is a problem with boys, a boys crisis, and a new gender gap between boys and girls. But not everyone agrees. Some say that the toughest problems are faced only by subgroups of boys, such as African American and Hispanic boys; boys whose parents neglect them, abuse drugs or alcohol, are unemployed, or suffer from mental health problems; and boys with mental health problems such as to conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This brief sets aside the debate to present research-based information about the strengths that make boys likely to succeed and the risks, or challenges, that increase the likelihood that they will struggle. It does not make an effort to compare boys to girls; it does not intend to imply that an issue for boys isn’t also relevant for girls. In fact, research shows that many of the same risk and protective factors, as well as interventions, may be relevant for both boys and girls.

  1. Drug and Substance Abuse;

There are tremendous popularity and use of drugs among the youth and especially boys child. Of the youth engaging in the vice. It has been revealed through a recent study that seventy-five percent (75%) of the boys in drug-related activities dropped out of school. This may support the notion that a poor sense of belonging and direction among boys tends to push them to seek other avenues of support and recognition. Important to note however is that, just like girls, boys also long and dream for freedom, education, prosperity, identity, and success.

 2. Ethnic Disparities
Part of the recent concern for young males focuses in particular on boys of color, whose experience may reflect an intersection of race and gender that puts them at a dual disadvantage. Racial/ethnic disparities are evident early in life. Black and Hispanic young boys are less likely than their white peers to be read to frequently, or told stories-both important early-literacy-promoting activities.
3. Academic Challenges
School is harder for young boys. Boys are more impulsive and have a more difficult time sitting still and paying attention than girls do. Meanwhile, many schools aren’t designed for short breaks throughout the day that would help them — that would help all kids, in fact. “So when boys can’t sit and wait their turn and the class is too big, what happens is they become disruptive; they shout out the answer,” she says.
4.Teasing or bullying
Bullying isn’t healthy for either the bully or the victim. “When you have a gender code that says there is only a spot for one at the very, very top, then boys define themselves and make themselves better by pushing somebody else down,” one Dr. Steiner-Adair says. “So we see a lot of subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, lateral aggression and we see a lot of teasing.” Any sign of weakness is fair game, including not being good at sports or even being too smart.

5. Beware of environmental toxins. One other thing I did not address, that Schore does, is the effects of environmental toxins. Young boys are more negatively affected by environmental toxins that also disrupt the brain’s right hemisphere development.


There are too many gender stereotypes that create foreshadowing in lif which explains why kids are the way they are – when in reality every kid is a unique individual no matter how hard you try, your child is who they are. The primal urge to do many things stereotypical of the boys is a hard one to avoid. There’s nothing wrong with simply embracing it. When parents allow kids to learn within safe limits, they gradually develop skills, abilities, and a sense of judgment as they grow. The respective roles that genetics, child temperament, parenting style, neighborhoods, the school environment, and other factors may play in these gender differences are incompletely understood. By changing young people’s perceptions of smoking, drinking, and drug use, educators have been able to keep some adolescents from experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

Don’t avoid the subject of sex. Parents shouldn’t leave their son’s sexual education up to peers as doing so sets their son up to form views about sexuality which are shaped strongly by peer pressure and the media. Instead, talk to your son as soon as he is old enough to understand the subject of sex, setting him up to dismantle the myths which surround male sexuality as he encounters them.

Talk about different, not better. It’s important to emphasize the child’s unique qualities. Boys need to know that we all have different abilities and grow and learn at different rates.

Emphasize empathy. From a young age, parents can encourage boys to be aware of how others think and feel, and take those feelings into account. Busman says that a lot of elementary schools have some sort of social-emotional curriculum, which teaches conflict resolution, and she notes that it’s good for parents to know about them so that they can follow through.

More varied role models. It is important to showcase alternatives to the athletic culture with male role models, say, artists, teachers, chefs, musicians – shows boys there are different, legitimate ways they can follow their talents and still be valued. “If you want to give boys confidence, then you give them the feeling that the skills they have are going to win them the respect of other men and boys.”

Help your child learn how to organize himself. This is a life-long skill that can be taught, but it can be challenging to do so. However, you can help your child discover the organizational tricks that will work for him by sharing some of your own. “It’s very difficult to teach children to be organized if it is not in their nature (or yours),” says guidance counselor Linda Lendman, M.S.W. “Encourage your child to label everything. Develop strategies, like the ‘must-do list’ before you leave school. Schedule a weekly ‘clean out the backpack and clean off your desk’ time so papers don’t build up. Be patient, and try not to place blame.”

Don’t allow trash talk in your home. Let boys know that insulting other kids by calling them weak or wimps or losers (or worse) is not acceptable from them, or their friends, and make sure the adults in your family don’t do it, either.

We’ve been blinded for so long. It’s not too late to let the scales fall off our eyes. The male-child is also a child, the female-child is also a child. A child is a child irrespective of gender and they should all be treated fairly!

How We Can Help the Boy Child

Boys should be encouraged to work well with others (adopting an attitude of cooperativeness rather than competitiveness), to express themselves emotionally to both parents, to assert themselves fairly rather than in a way that is bossy, controlling, or otherwise aggressive, and to know that it is okay to ask for help. Fathers should remain attentive to their sons and remember that it is important to model attitudes of gentleness, openness, and tenderness so that their sons understand such behaviors are acceptable. This is not to suggest, of course, that the maternal role should be minimized: Mothers are just as important to their sons as their fathers are, and because many women are better acquainted with how to express traditionally “feminine” qualities, mothers can do much to steer fathers and sons alike in the right direction.

Provide balance. It’s simply a fact of life that your son will be exposed to messages which encourage him to act “tough”, to use violence as a solution to his problems, and to sexualize females. While it’s impossible to protect your son from such messages, you can help to make him more aware of them, and therefore more critical of them, from an early age.

Give young people ways to support each other. Most parents would say they want their children to hang out with the good kids. In fact, boys whose friends and schoolmates are supportive, rather than mean and bullying, are less likely to get in trouble with the law, to suffer from mental health problems, or to smoke, drink, or use drugs. And boys who have friends who act out in class may be more likely to drop out of school.

Empower boys in the classroom. Boys who feel connected to their schools and supported by teachers do better in their studies and are less likely to misbehave in class. When schools and teachers empower students by involving them in day-to-day decisions about classroom rules and procedures, boys are sent to the principals office less often, have better attendance, and generally do better in school.

Give praise. If a child is struggling in school, teachers should go out of their way to look for opportunities to compliment him when he does do something right, even if it’s something small. Not only does a steady influx of praise make kids feel happier and more confident at school, but psychologists say that “catching kids being good” can help positively shape their behavior, too.

Make attachment a priority. Both parents should focus on being emotionally “available” for their sons as much as is feasibly possible. Listen actively and do so without rushing to give judgment, criticism, or heavy-handed advice; act as your son’s mentor, but allow him the freedom to make his own decisions and remain present to support him even when he makes the wrong ones.

Challenge boys and allow them to develop skills. Dr. Thompson used to teach at Outward Bound, which instills survival skills. “You throw boys as a group into a very challenging situation, and let them figure it out and find their own leadership,” he says. “They’ll come back thinking, ‘We did it. We did it.’ You’ll see a ton of confidence.” But it doesn’t have to get as extreme as that. While boys may be behind girls, they can and should be expected to learn skills, right down to making their own sandwich. “It involves creating a situation in which they can develop a skill and as a result will have self-esteem,” Dr. Thompson says. Parents and caregivers can talk to their children candidly about the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. They also can model responsible drinking by not drinking too much and not drinking and driving. And they can make clear their expectations for their children by not allowing anyone under the legal age to drink in their homes and agreeing with other parents not to allow drinking at their children’s parties. Parents and concerned community groups can make sure school-based substance abuse prevention programs include the elements of effective interventions.

Strengthen family support through school-based programs or in-the-home therapy. Boys who have supportive, involved parents and families are less often bullied and victimized, get into less trouble with the law, and have fewer mental health problems. They are more likely to do well in school and less likely to drop out. Bolstering family support by teaching parents and children to cope with stress and communicate well with one another can improve their behavior in school and help keep boys from committing crimes such as stealing and vandalizing. Similar to the substance use prevention and intervention programs, family strengthening and support programs are developed for general populations but can be adapted to incorporate ethnic values, family values, and other cultural and contextual factors that meet the needs of minority families.


Overall, programs and interventions that prevent adolescent substance use tend to target general populations. However, these programs can be adapted to meet the needs for ethnic minority youth. Of course, we should not just worry about boys but take action for all babies. We need to provide nurturing care for all children. All children expect and need, for proper development, the evolved nest, a baseline for early care which provides the nurturing, stress-reducing care that fosters optimal brain development. Every child in this world deserves the right to strive and succeed in life. Every child also deserves love and guidance. No child is better or lesser, thus we should not prioritize our attention on one and leave the other.

Mental Health Awareness Forum & Family Event

For the last 12 months, we had conference calls and discussions among Kemen members and Mental Health Stars. The conferences have opened a discussion that is often overlooked and ignored especially among men, mental health and Depression.  KEMEN refers to Kenyan Men Empowerment Network (KEMEN) whose main aim is to promote the civic welfare (to include, but not be limited to, social, economic, environmental, public safety, quality of life, and heritage issues/concerns), its members are Kenyan Men based in the diaspora STARS (Start Talking About it and Remove Stigma). Please join a Team of caring professionals, parents & ministers

The online meetings have been focusing on the below areas of interest ;

  • Saying no to Depression
  • Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Addiction
  • The Effects of Alcohol & Substance Use on the Family System
  • Biblical Focus on Alcohol and Substance Abuse Recovery Process and many more.

As Kemen and Mental Health stars, we believe it is the high take to take our initiative to a broader aspect. We are coming to you to have a face to face conversation around mental health. The reason for raising awareness is for destigmatizing Mental Health, which sometimes is a matter of life and death. We can no longer refer to individuals with mental health illness as “Mad”, “Crazy, “Muguruki, “Mwenda wazimu” or as Americans say “Gone Banana.” Just as much as we do not place such labels on individuals who are managing Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Asthma, Cancer, AIDs, and so forth. We need to reach a place in our lives were when we notice someone is struggling with Mental Health issues, we will nudge them to seek help. Someone has given an illustration to the fact that, if a colleague shows up for work every day coughing, someone would ask, “By the way have you seen a doctor for that nasty cough?” Or another example, if we see a person drowning, would we cry out for help? Would we give a helping hand or would we watch in shame and silence?

Let us discuss briefly: Mental Health as commonly known to health care providers and as it is referred to in scientific research. Most Mental Health disorders are not permanent and treatment is possible. Although there are many causes of Mental Health issues, for the purposes of the Diaspora community, the major causes of depression are mainly (a) Genetic, (b) Environmental.

Treatment-Most Mental Health disorders are not permanent and this makes us believe and share that when individuals seek and obtain appropriate treatment, there is healing for the body, mind, and soul.

In the past 7 months, we have discussed that there are several factors that cause depression. We have come to understand that depression is caused by an interaction of internal & external factors in the body’s chemistry with physical factors like health and heredity. The two causes that are of interest are Genetic and environmental causes.

Genetic causes which some people refer to as generational curses, which I Am there need to be a rebuke, cast out and deliver from demons. Family Therapists might call them generational patterns that need to be interfered with or interrupted with, for example, families with 50% chances of having Diabetes.

What would happen if the current generation changes their eating habits? How would this affect the next generation? When we speak with our medical doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists, they are likely to say that a person has a genetic predisposition for a Mental Health disorder based on family history. This is as evidenced by an individual report or documented reports in the person’s medical file. However, heredity does not automatically mean that an individual will be affected by a Mental Health disorder. Here I trust that most people in Diaspora will breathe in and out with a sigh of relief. In any case, how many in Diaspora are reading this article and are able to trace their genealogy to the 6th & 5th generation? Do people know what killed their great-great-grandfathers 130 years ago? How many in Diaspora know the written medical history of their families to the 6th generation (back to 1845). How many brought their medical files with them to this new land? How many more told their doctors the truth about their medical history back in Africa? If we are relying sorely on oral stories (not history) then we can go on teaching generational curses that many have not been able to cure or cast out the demons, nor administer deliverance. Let us remember this is based either on our African traditions of the belief in the role of ancestral spirits influencing our lives or practice thereof. Luckily our Western clinicians and most Mental Health providers practicing in this country have studied the same theories about Mental Health. Here is our line of departure with what we know as Christians and what we practice.

Environmental Causes are sometimes overlooked. Yet from a developmental context, major life changes can contribute to or trigger depression. For example, the death of a loved one, being diagnosed with a chronic illness, financial problems, dealing with difficult relationships, prolonged job loss, trauma experienced due to abuse and even immigration issues that might leave families in limbo. A stressful environment, say like having a family member in jail, or imprisoned can lead to emotional problems like anxiety and frustration. The list can be endless.

Are Mental Health disorders caused by curses or chemistry? Or Could it be an interplay of both? In reading the scriptures, there are many times when Jesus healed the sick and also cast out the spirit…this discussion will be left to a religious article sometime in the future. Can a balanced discussion include generational blessings?

Family and Friends, in order to help individuals struggling with MH, we may call ourselves to reason. In other words, base our understanding of scientific research. Then use available resources, not just to inform, but to transform the lives of families in Diaspora. Of course, individuals in the community of faith have a right to believe in generational curses. But here is a word of caution: if a practicing Christian regardless of their call, their title or their position, doesn’t know the main differences between demon possession and mental illness, my informed opinion is that it is better to be wrong than sorry. Hurry to Take the person to the hospital, and while on the way there, drive praying. The key is not to have a really hot testimony of casting out demons. The key is to keep a person alive and connect them with needed help. Then they can give their testimony, that is their story with the Touch of Jesus Christ. An excerpt from one of the conference calls we usually have as presented by His Servant & Friend, Rev Wambui Njoroge, M.Sci (Child & Family Studies). 0rdained Minister. Previously worked as Child/Adolescent & their Families within GA Public School System/ Pre-K- 12th grade/& Outpatient- Behavioral Health Services. It is made possible through the courtesy of KEMEN (Kenyan Men Empowerment Network, with Mr. Anthony Kamnao, Founder).

We can all earn STARS (Start Talking About it and Remove Stigma). Please join a Team of caring professionals, parents & ministers on the 2nd November 2019 at Ben Robertson Community Center, 2753 Watts Drive, Kennesaw GEORGIA is 30144  starting from 12 pm Eastern as we have an open discussion about mental health Awareness.  We shall also have an open Question & Forum with a panel of young people to cover the youth.  This will be a family event, so please tag along all your family members to come and experience one in a lifetime opportunity.

You can’t afford to miss!

Click here to Register.



Depression In Men

How do you know that behind a man’s smile lies a dark cloud that weighs down on his soul?

Recently, one of our mentors in a medical school committed suicide. Everyone was shocked. He was the happiest lecturer we knew and he had international accolades for his clinical and scholarly contributions to medicine. He was a loving husband, a doting father and his career was heading for the stars. We thought he had achieved everything we all hope to accomplish as doctors.

After his death, we learned that he suffered from clinical depression. Behind his smile, lay a dark cloud that weighed down on his soul. The question that we all asked ourselves was, ‘how come we did not recognize that he was depressed?’

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems among Kenyan men. Unfortunately, it goes undiagnosed because most people do not recognize the symptoms.

Depression affects men and women differently. However, there are some common features among both sexes.

There are some more predominant in men.

Signs, symptoms in men

1. The angry man

Although depression in men can manifest as sadness and moodiness, it can also come with extreme anger. Typically, everyone avoids an angry man because he is always irritable. In the office, he is the boss who is consistently critical of his team and colleagues — nothing seems to please him.

At home, his family recoils because he snaps at everyone. His children would rather interact with their mother as opposed to dealing with him. His wife cannot have a rational discussion with him without being put down. These men also suffer from frequent bouts of road rage.

2.Reckless, compulsive behavior

Men with depression engage in inappropriate behaviour such as reckless driving, dangerous sports or past-times, and unsafe sex. Some gamble their wealth, ignoring the needs of their dependants.

3.The abusive man

Some men become physically, verbally and emotionally abusive. They also develop control issues and harass those close to them. They are hypersensitive and lose their sense of humor.

4.The workaholic

Most men look for something to immerse themselves in to try and cope with depression. For some, they opt to drown themselves in work. This man is always the first one to arrive in the office and the last one to leave. He always carries work home.

Even his supervisors often encourage him to go home and relax, he consistently brushes the unhealthy habit off. He would rather immerse his thoughts in work rather than deal with his mental and emotional problems. (But not all workaholics are depressed).

5.Alcohol abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse is another common coping mechanism for depressed men. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol have a downward spiraling effect in a depressed person. (You drink because you are depressed then the depression worsens because you realize that you are ruining your life. You then drink even more to drown out the feelings of hopelessness — it is a vicious cycle).

6.The sickly man

One may experience headaches, unexplained abdominal and chest pain, weight changes (more often, there is weight loss) and a racing heart (palpitations). Usually, medical tests do not reveal the cause of the problem and treatment by conventional means is often unsuccessful.

7. Sexual dysfunction, sleep issues

Most men with depression either sleep too little or too much. They may also lose interest in sex and develop erectile dysfunction. Usually, the decreased libido has nothing to do with their sexual partner, depression causes one to lose interest in things that were previously enjoyed.

8.Poor work performance

Depression significantly affects one’s mental capacity. Depressed men have low concentration levels and are consistently tired. In addition, they are always unhappy and unable to interact with colleagues. All of these factors contribute to reduced work performance.


Some choose to isolate themselves from friends and family. The usual excuse when confronted about it is, ‘I’ve been very busy’. In addition, they neglect hobbies and social activities.

Why is depression in men not diagnosed early?

Most family members and colleagues do not recognize depression in men. Even doctors may fail to see the signs of depression in a man because they do not always present in a classic way. Most men are also reluctant to discuss mental and emotional problems. They have been brought up to believe that it is ‘unmanly’ and inappropriate. They fear that they will lose the respect of their family, friends, and workmates. For this reason, they often downplay and mask any symptoms of depression rather than come out and ask for help coping with it. Most Kenyan families resist mental health treatment. They believe that one only visits a psychiatrist if he is ‘mad’.

In addition, most employers have a bias towards employees with mental health problems. This forces employees to hide their mental health issues from their employers because they risk damaging their careers. Stigma: there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness. No one wants to be labeled as ‘the man with depression’. Ignorance: there is little awareness of mental health issues. People do not realize that depression is no different from diabetes or hypertension and all need treatment.


Although it is important to be supportive of a spouse suffering from depression, do not tolerate abuse. Angry, abusive, depressed men have maimed and killed their partners. In addition, emotional abuse can leave one scarred for life.


Suicide is often thought of as a coward’s way out of depression. It is also labeled as ‘selfish’ and, even, foolish. In truth, taking one’s life is one of the most difficult decisions a man can make. He realizes that his actions will devastate those around him but he feels that he has no other way out of his misery.

Clinical depression can consume one’s mind and the dark thoughts and emotions become too overwhelming.

If a man around you exhibits suicidal tendencies or attempts suicide, do not put him down or ask him to ‘suck it up and deal with his emotions like a man’. His behavior is a cry for help, do not ignore it.

Look at the men around you. Could they be suffering from depression? If so, reach out and help them. It could save their lives.

Please reach out to us via:

[314] 757 0502



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