Today is the annual International Men’s Day, and this year the theme is Better Health for Men and Boys. Additional themes specific to the UK are: making a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and boys; promoting a positive conversation about men, manhood and masculinity; and raising awareness and/or funds for charities supporting men and boys’ wellbeing.
The purpose of all such focus days is both to celebrate diversity and also to consider issues that, while more universal, may present in particular ways for different demographics, including ways which may be less visible to others or to ourselves.
I have three children, whom I love and delight in and of whom I am proud; and two of them are boys. And while I am aware that, living in a nation where universal basic and indeed quite advanced health care is free at the point of access, our experience is already blessed compared to that of men and boys living in ‘developing’ nations such as the USA, I am also aware that the health of both of my boys has been badly affected by this year of pandemic and the wider environmental point of no return within which it sits.
And so, this year I am especially thankful for those men who have invested time and care in my sons’ wellbeing. A small but precious band. Because while a man can father a man, it takes men to raise men (and remember, this is not to deny the essential role of women; it is about today’s focus). We don’t always get it right, and we do need to reimagine how we might do it better. But thank you, nonetheless.