What do you really need?

This week's blog is about something I saw on the 'Secret Life of the American Teenager' last week (so the 8/30/10 episode). Ricky is a junior in high school. He is the father of the baby, John. Some background on Ricky: Ricky plays out the ultimate 'player' character. I don't know where his father was in his life but his mom was an addict and we learned he has not had the most stable childhood. Recently he has been cared for by a foster family. The show depicts his foster parents as well educated, grounded people, trying to bring some balance and security in his life. But we can tell they came into his life late so they are doing the best they can. In fact, at this point Ricky lives in an apartnemt above the butcher shop he works in. Part of why Ricky is not currently dating the mother of his son, (well that is actually changing but more on that another week), is because he notoriously sleeps around.

I have been intrigued with the growth of this character over the last few seasons. The hopeless 'hopeful' person in me sees a young man, with no good model in his past, fight really hard to be a good dad and a good man. But well, he is 17 and he doesn't have a lot of help so he certainly messes up and slides back to his old patterns often but I see someone really trying. He is working after school to support his son and has given up many frivolous things he used to do. No big deal? I see plenty of 'baby daddies' at the high school ignoring all responsibility.

So what has intrigued me this week about Ricky has to do with the conversation he had with his male therapist. He is considering if he and the mother of his child should 'try to work on their relationship'. His one concern is his need for sex and the mother of his baby not wanting to have sex. (She got pregnant with their child the one and only time she had sex). He says: "You know me, I need sex. I can't go without sex." His therapist says: "No Ricky. I am going to challenge your thinking. I think you need to feel loved. And sex has been the only way you knew how to seek it from a woman."
And then they really explore this. Ricky doesn't tell him he is crazy for saying that! Yeah, I fell off the couch then. Do I expect to hear that from a therapist to a female client? Yes. But my own stereotypes tell me there is no way a guy would do that would they? Yes they would. Young men want to feel loved too. Just like young women. They have just been taught to go for the hunt. Have sex and take the love from a woman. But just like women who have sex to feel loved, this type of exchange is un-authentic. It feels good for the moment but like a sugar rush after a bunch of chocolate, it is not the real sustaining kind we all seek.

I am so glad we have male counselors and mentors at Hope Clinic now. These young men need us as desperately as the women do. You may think they don't talk to the men here but they do. Earl tells me time and again how MUCH the young men share, how they hug him at the end, how relieved they are to finally have someone to talk to. I keep reminding people that 60% of the young men today are growing up without a father figure in the home. We want them to 'be a real man' or 'be a Godly Man' and yet most of them have not seen this, their entire life. So this week I am encouraging all of us to do what we can to make sure the young men we know have access to Godly men who will take the time to speak into their life, share life with them and mentor them. And if you want to know more about how you can do this at Hope Clinic, contact Earl Burns at EBurns@hopeclinicforwomen.org.