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Making good men out of good boys

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 9:05 am Wed 2nd March 2005

If adolescent boys could tell their mothers one thing, what would it be? Chill out and stop asking so many questions, says Celia Lashlie.

Boys want their mothers to understand they know she’s there, that she cares and that they will talk to her if something big happens in their lives, but they also need some space from her on their journey to manhood.

That’s not to say our young men should be left to their own devices. Quite the contrary, says Ms Lashlie.

What they do need is a lot less mollycoddling from mum and significantly more time spent with the good men in their lives.

A former prison guard in male prisons, she is no stranger to the devastating consequences facing too many young men, for whom prison is a rite of passage, a place where they go to prove they are men.

The validity of being male appears to have been undermined. This is seen in male suicide rates, imprisonment rates and the road toll.

“A theme that emerged very quickly during my visits to the schools was that a great many mothers are over-involved in their sons’ lives, while many students said they lack a real relationship with their father.

“We witnessed the importance of mothers withdrawing and fathers becoming more involved at this critical stage in their sons’ development.”

She says mothers should never interfere in the relationship a boy has with his father, no matter what she thinks of him.

“Regardless of who their dad is, there is a tremendous urge in boys to want to know him, no matter how bad the news is. The mother has to take a deep breath, step back and let them have that relationship.

“If a boy doesn’t find out who dad is at age 15, warts and all, he will still be looking at 55, with a string of broken relationships behind him.”

Ms Lashlie says it’s time we cracked open the politically correct stuff and started to reinforce good male touching.

“I have seen some amazing examples of touch in boys’ schools. I saw one principal with a boy in a headlock, rubbing his head, saying ‘are we going to tuck our shirt in sometime soon?’ The boy was grinning from ear to ear. ”

“In today’s world we wrap our boys up too much. If they are unable to take a risk in healthy male pursuits, such as tree climbing, and rough-and-tumble, they may look for the risk elsewhere – drinking a bottle of bourbon, driving fast, or trying drugs. We need to give them more buzzes that are safe. Their world has become too sanitised.”

Women need to take responsibility for what they are creating.

“I don’t believe we should give up the fight for feminism. I have a huge belief in that. But there are problems we need to, and can, address. There is a hunger for information, particularly from women. That’s why I am putting my energies into finishing a book, based on the Good Man project, to help mothers deal with these issues.”


  1. What a great article! Especially because it is written by a woman who understands.

    She is right. Young boys needs their dads. They also need need male teachers.

    This Govt refuses to recognise this and instead treats seperated Dads as criminals, taxing them the limit, forcing them away from their children, forcing the ‘family’ into poverty and so promotes child anguish at every level.

    This Govt policy regarding chid support promotes child poverty, child anguish, child abuse and they know they are doing it!!!

    Money means more to this Govt than looking after our children. I can prove it. I am collating the statistics. SHAME ON HELEN. How many childrens lives has this woman destroyed and I can count the suicides of men and youths because of a thoroughly corrupt system!

    Comment by Morris Lindsay — Wed 2nd March 2005 @ 9:59 pm

  2. i would like to help Ms Lashlie and our children, if she would care contact me.

    When my wife and seperated she cleaned out our bank accounts and left me with me $113. She moved in with her girlfriend and two guys and between them they offered my son the world…two mums, a Playstation, DVD’s, Videos, Gameboys, a Dog of his own, a Cat of his own, (he loves animals), and an older boy but wayward whom he adored.

    Well guess what..I could give my only son none of the above, but today he prefers to be with me in my broken down old cold house.

    He is only 7 years old and a heart kid at that…but he knows real love for sure.

    Your article made me cry probably because it came from a female who understands that kids need their dads.I just don’t understand why this Govt targets seperated parents and tries to force hardship on them and their kids. The kids go thru hell when parents seperate, but then the Govt steps in and in effect drives the family even further apart.

    It leads to depriving the children in the short term and in the long term…it leads to crime..any idiot can see that except our ‘intelligent elected MP’s.

    Comment by Morris Lindsay — Wed 2nd March 2005 @ 10:28 pm

  3. I’m writing a book that calls men to the work Ms Lashlie is referring to. More power to her, she is right on track.


    Comment by Earl — Wed 16th March 2005 @ 1:08 pm

  4. I recently heard Celia speak at a conference in Melbourne and was moved to tears by some of the comments she made reagrding boys and their relationships with men. The road for boys to become caring men is rough and littered with much that society throws in the path of change.

    Comment by Michael Grogan — Sat 16th April 2005 @ 4:41 pm

  5. heya:) well early this mornin’ i had a lecture @ 9am till 12pm..@ uni ov auckz newaez some how the topic in class went from dicussing violence ‘n’ abuse amongst ppl with impairments to chatting bout’ Celia’s book. which was all new to me and i never knew of her till dis mornin’..and 4rm an intresting session dis mornin’ i had to come online and find out more about dis woman and her book..and from reading the above section and comments i believe its true!! mothers do need to step back but not so much that they r out of reach! me and my siblings grew up with no dad-father figure in our lives even till dis very day..he pased on due to cancer but what i wanted to add or share is dat my bro was recently released 4rm Rimutaka prison and i know he finds it hard to grow up and be a man coz he never had dat father-type figure to show him how to be mother favours him and he gets away with anything and everything!! and most things r done for him but dat i believe is not his fault but for families out dere who do have a father and mother playing the parenting role..Let men teach n raise dere bois to become good men!!…coz without fathers skills or life-hard lessons dey will never learn or grow 4rm experience how to be MEN and act like MEN!!it can lead to crime and so on if father’s r not dere to teach dere bois to be MEN man i wanna blabber on but dis is a comment board not a place fo’ tellin’ ma long-life storyz hehe well i’m off to buy tha book now lol gudday every1!!!!!she is a Woman who i truley believe understands.

    Comment by tori — Tue 25th October 2005 @ 2:47 pm

  6. I have just read Celia’s book..”He’s Ok…”
    As the mother of 3 adolescent males aged 15, 17 and 19, I wish I had read it years ago.
    Just understanding the basics is liberating and I feel more relaxed as a mother as a result.

    Comment by Carolyn — Sun 30th October 2005 @ 4:48 pm

  7. Today I listened to Celia Lashlie speak about raising our children safely together – what an inspiration! As a health professional and mother of three boys I felt a connection with what she was saying. After the questions session at the end of the day she spoke briefly on the Good Man Project. How humourous it was to hear words coming from her mouth that I have indeed heard come from my own, directed at my boys. And the responses, that she described, from the students she spoke with were the responses that I get from my sons and husband. It really was very easy to see why we women, as well meaning as we are, need to step back and shut up. Thanks Celia.

    Comment by Vicki Taylor — Mon 14th November 2005 @ 7:47 pm

  8. There is just too much violence and crime coming from this éra’of youth. Where did we go wrong?

    Lets keep the next generation on the right path..keep our boys (and girls) safe, prevent the suicides and the crime.


    We did nt have these problems when I grew up. So keep them away from TV, Playstations and XBoxes. Play card games around the table as a family instead. Play with our kids!

    We gotta get back to good parenting somehow!!!But it takes a community and widespread effort.
    I would devasted f my boy tok his own life or ended up in jail. I’d blame myself. Encourage your kids to talk to you no matter the nature of the problem. I do this with my son frequently and no matter the ‘minor’problem. It may be minor to us, but not to them.

    Comment by Morris Lindsay — Tue 15th November 2005 @ 10:33 pm

  9. I to was at that seminar today,i also are a health professional and a mother of 3, 2 being male adolescent, what an inspiration she was and how i could totally relate with what she was saying regarding about how the male think and as vicki above states as well as Celia we as mothers do need to step back and shut up,they dont want to hear all the mothering and bantering that we do…i certainly learnt somethink today and i would like to thank you for it Celia..take care

    Comment by Lee Hopper — Tue 15th November 2005 @ 10:39 pm

  10. And I forgot to mention…bushwalks together, fishing, boating, collecting seashells. Praise your kids for good work and helping us parents and reward them in a small way. Cuddle them frequently. let them share your life, allow them to have a little input and never scoff at their ideas. Massage them when they are small.

    Let them help you paint the house and even if they make a mess, reward them, dont berate them,,after all they just wanted to help.

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by Morris Lindsay — Tue 15th November 2005 @ 10:49 pm

  11. In respnse to the last post I would just like to say this, bearing in mind I was NOT at this seminar.

    Dont just write youselves off here ladies.

    Mothers have most valuable contribution too, particularly with babies and the young uns.

    Its TRUST when it comes to adoloscents and puberty, the time when Dads need to explain things to their boys, but dads need to relay that mums can also be trusted.

    So dont knock yourselves completely out of the picture here.

    The other thing is, with the absence of male teachers, i strongly recommend sending your boys to martial arts under a male sensai..I did this my son and found his moral values and sense of discipline/respect, greatly enhanced as well as his feeling as becoming part of an elite team of boys of girls who are learning…it also keeps away from the TV and teaches them how to defend themselves in times of strife..a lifesaver for sure.

    Comment by Morris Lindsay — Tue 15th November 2005 @ 11:08 pm

  12. I heard Celia talk last night and her every word just rang so true. We are producing a generation of cotton-wool biys who like their present father generation will be terrified of speaking out and being labelled as a “male chauvinist pig”. Now look here blokes – (not guys) – it’s time us men stood up and got some perspective back into the whole equation. We have become a generation of disenfranchised woofters and unless we do stand up, this will continue. I mean, why did we let this happen – our mothers seem unanimous in agreeing that it was far more stable 30 yrs ago. Is there ANY organisation in NZ that is (a) moderate, (b) not associated with single sex relationships and (c) articulate enough to convince society that we have a problem? Where do we start – even the PM is of the view that the problem is all in our heads – well bring on John Tamihere (although he let us all down by apologising). Celia is right – we need to re-empower men for women to ever respect us and allow stable relationships to prevail.

    Comment by OwenE — Wed 14th December 2005 @ 6:43 pm

  13. We NEED a MALE PM to begin with

    Comment by Morris Lindsay — Thu 15th December 2005 @ 1:28 am

  14. And when we get a MALE PM, we need to ensure he gives a damn about Men & boys & FAMILIES…because HELEN clearly doesnt give a damn about family life.

    This Bitch tried to preach the virtues of Soviet Communism to us in the 70’s and unbelievably was STILL elected to run this country!!!!

    Comment by Morris Lindsay — Thu 15th December 2005 @ 1:34 am

  15. because HELEN clearly doesnt give a damn about family life.

    I agree. Everything the Government does is aimed at pushing both parents into the workforce and into the paid economy. No thought is given to that undervalued unpaid part of our society, which quietly keeps the economic engine going.

    This Bitch

    This is the sort of denigration that women have put up with for ever and always, as soon as there are no logical arguments to bring forth. It does the writer no service at all. It would seem that this writer has had a bad experience, but please don’t tar all women with the same brush…….its about as useful as the statement that “all men are rapists”….and about as true.
    Families are under stress all over the place. We have come to believe that if we only had that “latest thing” that we want, then life will be just wonderful……so we push kids into Daycare , before they are even weaned and go out to chase the mighty dollar. Well, guess what? After we are fed, clothed, housed and warm, what else do we REALLY need? Just unconditional love and support……which is free.
    That said…I was part of that generation of young women 40 years ago who had to put up with lower wages (for equal work), with lack of promotion opportunities, and with generally being totally undervalued, merely because we were female. I would never wish to go back to those days.
    Stop being so ANGRY, people….male and female can work together, surely? We may have different approaches to solving problems, but thats a human trait, not a gender one!

    Comment by Marie Neilson — Mon 26th December 2005 @ 12:40 pm

  16. I think…

    1/ It is common knowledge that Helen Clarke does not give a stuff about family life and that her GOVT is committed to taxing the people of this country to exteme limits which has in effect pushed a hell a lot of NZ men out of this country.

    2/ It would logicaly follow that overtaxing the workforce will see a large number of skilled workers leave this country and see immigants replace them, and for less remuneration. Helen is effectively displacing NZérs in place of a cheaper workforce. Like Chinese or Asian labour.

    3/ Helen also promotes free trade with China. Helen in the 1970’s tried to promote Soviet Communism. Recently Helen tried to force both parents into the workforce,leaving the kids into State Organised Care.

    Its not hard to figure out where all this is leading isn’t it? The men are leaving as she intended. Families are splitting up as she intended. Kids are going into State Run Daycare as she intended. Kids are being educated by HER people as intended. AND FAMILY LIFE AS WE KNEW IT IS ON THE WAY OUT, as she intended.

    MEN have little say in the way GOVT is run as per HELEN’S plan.

    IS HELEN REALLY a WHAT….Manhater, FamilyHater, Childhater….or really does she just love COMMINISM is general…this is what she preached to our Univerisities in the 70’s.


    Comment by Morris Lindsay — Mon 26th December 2005 @ 9:42 pm

  17. Thankyou Celia for your enlightening, humourous and very engaging talk in Napier in Dec 05. It lifted that weight off me of trying to be mum and dad and not seeming to get it right very often. I now realize, when I look at all the males in my son’s life (16yr old) how blessed we are to have these excellent roll models. His brother in law’s, his boss at Subway, his teachers at school, his favourite internet cafe owner who is teaching him programming, the flying instructors who have tutored him to his first solo flight on New Years Eve day. I say, lets celebrate all these wonderful men out there who are giving to our son’s far more than one single dad can do. This despite the government. It is our task to take responsibility for our choices and decisions and to stop blaming the govt of the day. We get what we deserve. My family has flourished with me on the DPB. Thank God for such a gift. It requires creative imagination to create a good life out of very little. You can do it, our children deserve and need it. It is our responsibility no matter what the circumstances. We are part of what created the circumstances. Thankyou again Celia for what you are bringing to us.

    Comment by romilly — Sun 29th January 2006 @ 8:57 am

  18. If only there was someone like Celia around when I was raising my boy through those turbulent teenage years! Thank you Celia for such wonderful wisdom. I have four grand-sons who will benefit along with their parents from reading your books.

    I would love to know when Celia is giving her next talk/seminar in Hamilton.

    Comment by Anna Stonnell — Sun 19th February 2006 @ 5:19 pm

  19. Hello hello, Why is it a sacked employee who breaks confidentiality and who managed a womens prison, would know anything about raising boys, being a boy or anything remotely linked to being a male. What I am hearing is a lot of desperate divorced or sperated mothers of boys being dis-empowered by Celia…Who? C’mon mothers make a stand and have faith in yourself..You can do it.

    Comment by Jack — Mon 1st May 2006 @ 1:48 pm

  20. Morris Lindsay – you make many valid comments early in this string but your later ones just make you look like a sad injured man with a major chip on your shoulder and an axe to grind. Emotional rantings are probably best spoken not written, they can’t come back to haunt you quite so easily. You make yourself look a fool, when I am sure you are not.

    I have a brother who had a rather bitter and twisted marriage breakup which the courts most definitely did not help. But despite his wife and the courts doing everything in their power it seemed, to do wrong by his two kids, eventually the kids themselves saw reason and opted to move in with Dad. They had no hesitation, at ages 8 & 10 to tell the courts and their officials where they wanted to be, and why. With sound clear reasoning they had to be heard, and my brother was granted full custody. This whole terrible sad process lasted for 8 years and the court system is largely to blame.

    I feel very sorry for so many fathers who have to endure even a fraction of what my poor brother and his fantastic kids went through – the whole family court system is flawed, and flawed terribly. The mother is not always in the right, she is not always telling the truth, and she most certainly is not always the best caregiver for her kids. At the very least, in most circumstances, the parenting should be shared equally by mum and dad – the court has no right to play favourites simply because mum and dad are no longer together.

    On the other hand – I am a single mum whose ex-husband wanted absolutely nothing to do with his son from the minute he remarried. Our separation was a ‘healthy’ one relatively speaking but my son, then aged 8, now 21, has not heard a word from his father who lives only a 15 minute drive away. No courts required, and contrary to most situations I actually tried 2 or 3 times to get ex to have some contact with my son, to no avail.

    Strange how the world works really – I can understand why so many men are bitter but not all women have caused that situation and our PM alone (male or female) is not the one who writes our laws. Stay strong, stay calm and always be there for your kids if you possibly can, in any little way you can. What is genuinely best for our kids must prevail at all times.

    Comment by Jan — Sun 17th September 2006 @ 9:47 am

  21. It seems strange that a link posted a year ago should resurface now, but yes, when I looked at the comments I made a year ago, I do indeed feel a little bit foolish. Perhaps because I made them when i was full of anger.

    Today I have shared custody of my 9 yo boy. In fact I look after him more than ex does. Hamish prefers to stay with me. He is happy and healthy and that is the main thing. He has a good outlook on life and that pleases me. he does well at school, well at karate, he is polite and well mannered. He does work around the house and helps me and his eldery grandfather. He derives pleasure from helping others.

    I have succeeded I think.

    Do I feel foolish? NO. I have fucking well WON!!!!!

    I will continue to act ‘foolishly’as long as I keep winning.

    I hate the injustices of the Family Court so I will continue to act ‘foolishly’until those problems are solved.

    I hate the injustices of the Child Support Act, so I will continue to act ‘foolishly’until changes are made.

    I believe in the equality of the sexes at every level, but hate the discrimination against men and boys when it comes to health and mental health issues. And yes, I just I had personal involvement which dictated that women have preferential treatment before men when it comes down to life threatening situations.

    I want equality for the sexes. Whether that be children or adults.

    Comment by Morris Lindsay — Sun 17th September 2006 @ 5:28 pm

  22. Crikey!

    Comment by Nosila — Tue 11th March 2008 @ 9:56 pm

  23. I am hoping Celia Lashlie’s book will shed some light on problems for my boy – but reading some of these posts, phew. Finally I believe most parents work incredibly hard to do the best for their children, boys and girls. Read through history and the ‘answers’ have all been provided by so many professionals, and cancelled out with changing times, to be replaced with newer and more inspired ones. Beats me. But I am sure the blame game can’t help anyone, least of all our children.

    Comment by Nosila — Tue 11th March 2008 @ 10:07 pm

  24. Excellent article. But please don’t forget the Mums!!! that go though this too. It happens to us in just the same cruel way. This government is hell-bent on destroying our family units further. CPS have no idea. They are dangerous, evil soul destroying liars, 100% corrupt though and though. They need to be brought to justice. Social Work to me is meant to be all about empowerment, CYFS do the direct opposite, divide and conquer. Why, they do it to keep their income good, they need a certain quota of children to kidnap per year, (a bit like going fishing) CYFS also pay off court appointed shrinks and psychologists, (note some of these so-called professionals never see the victims and kids) to write negative damning reports which our Judges just rubber stamp. I don’t accept this, this is cruel, unfair and simply unjust. I am sure that the average hard working kiwi would like to know just where their hard earned taxes are being spent. Making these evil vile NAZIS/CPS fat. May the truth finally be told because it’s time to air the dirty laundry of the corrupt department of child, youth and family!!!! Innocent parents who love their kids should not be made out by the department to be worse than criminals. Love is no crime!!!! All CPS social workers who have lied under oath should be charged in accordance to the law. The family court is filled with lies, slander, heresay, if, buts & maybes.

    Comment by Michelle Stewart — Tue 31st August 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  25. It’s interesting reading through these old threads. They give a good idea of what progress has been made in the last 5 years.

    Notice the wave of responses from female readers, advising one of the men to tone down his anger – and his tone had all the menace of a rabbit. Notice also that his criticism of Helen Clark was what drew the most flak, in spite of all the other more pertinent things he had to say.

    The mother mafia has become decidedly more quiet over these last couple of years, as they have on web-sites discussing men’s issues the world over. Men are speaking much plainer than they were, and don’t seem anywhere near as ready to dance around on egg-shells as they once did.

    If we ever despair that nothing ever changes, read over the old threads. The complaints may be familiar, but the language and the opposition are quite different.

    Comment by rc — Tue 31st August 2010 @ 2:28 pm

  26. Yes, its interesting, those old threads. I read the post i wrote 5 years ago and guess what…my boy is now 13, and he has a purple belt in karate, and he still prefers to stay with me (his dad), who lives alone (no partner)

    Changes in the last 5 years? My ex’s partner turned violent toward my son and I went to Court where I was granted maximum care of my son. I have almost 60% care of my son now, and it would be more if I didn’t work shiftwork.

    Funny thing was my Child Support increased rather than decreased.

    My ex thought it was quite funny. They together abused my son to the point he was in tears and he begged me for help. Of course I obliged, but it cost me thousands in lawyers fees. Subsequently they are faced with reduced costs since my son stays with me most of the time now, and my costs have gone up. There was no reduction in Child Support. My ex and her high income partner now have a great time, with less costs and more time to do what they want together.

    I am now tied to my son permanently. I have no ‘free time’ to myself. I can’t afford to pay for a ‘sitter’ and I have no family available to sit with him.

    I work for 16 hours a day for 4 days a week, including nightshift, and my days off are spent looking after my son and my property. I dont go anywhere, not the pub, not to the movies. I have to stay home, or face increased costs.I am always tired because of the shiftwork and the ongoing childcare parent thing.

    And my ex receives $220 a week from me while she enjoys life with her high income partner.

    Is this fair? Is it fair I look after my son most of the time but still have to pay her while she lives in luxury with her toyboy? They have a flash house, flash cars, have 2 dogs and 2 cats while I live in near poverty. They refuse to pay for the things my son really needs as he grows up, so i have to.

    I have to do this for another six years yet, and at 56 years old, I already know I won’t make it. I love my son to bits, but the fact is now I have realised that the high Child Support payments and the things I pay for my son are eventually going to break me financially.

    I don’t want to end up sleeping under a bridge or in the park. No wonder so many men bugger off overseas and I suspect most of them had to take off to avoid ending up like me.

    Comment by Morris — Tue 7th September 2010 @ 9:44 pm

  27. wow morris old boy have you had issues with your mummy or daddy somewhere along the track or what ??? you sound som bitter I cant help but feel you are one of those yourng mad boys celia speaks of. I know ythis is old news but tell me what do you think of the male pm you have in johnny keys now look how well we have done with him at the helm. lmao at least helen had a heart for those down and out no luck with this rich kid in charge but then i bet he’s looking out for you morrie and judging by you vitrolic verbal outrage against a women im sure at least your happy we have the male in the head role lmfao

    Comment by hiel hilter — Thu 9th September 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  28. Helen Clark had no heart for the many men who were suffering, unless they might be homosexual (I don’t have any general objection to homosexuals). The Clark government continually extended abuse and exploitation of men. I doubt if the “smiling assassin” Key will do much better; his party certainly offered no policies showing awareness of men’s plight or that might lead to true gender equality. Nothing has improved for men yet.

    Comment by Hans Laven — Thu 9th September 2010 @ 10:39 pm


    Maybe they do have brain issues.
    With a continuous argument about when the brain is 100%.

    Is it not the hormones, forcing risk taking.
    Imagine if that never happened.
    With young men, never taking risks.
    The brain generated, compliant behaviour instead.
    What then of innovation, without the accident.

    Fearing for the child making bad decisions.
    Think of the toddler.
    In slang, risk taking, is called childish.
    Even when done by the adult male.

    We decide competency of the brain, with age limits.
    Limits to voting, sex, criminal responsibility, drinking.
    What then of the child, making a decision.
    Outside of the rules of age.
    But just as valid, as an adult decision.
    The brain coping with the argument.

    Certainly not every person is competent, on a birthday.
    But not the day before.
    Competent brains have there rights limited, by law.
    Due to the ability, of others, not there own.
    And not competent, gain rights.

    The argument to increase age, for laws.
    Can be unworkable, and dysfunctional.
    When the % of boys, competent to decide, is to great.
    And hormones, make them do it anyway.

    Changing ages, for things.
    Is more complex.
    Than just brain development, physically.
    As an argument.

    Comment by DJ Ward — Thu 19th August 2021 @ 12:33 pm

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