More than Just a Knot

A Conversation with Screenwriter Antwone Fisher

By Evangelia Biddy

Drawing from his challenging childhood in foster care and then as a homeless teen, turned award-winning producer and author, Antwone Fisher shares practical wisdom for boys and parents of boys. His inspiration, the necktie! But this is about much more than a knot. It’s about building a sense of command, respect and control in the hearts and minds of today’s young men. In his latest best-seller, part memoir, part how-to, A Boy Should Know How to Tie a Tie & Other Lessons for Succeeding in Life, Fisher equips young men with the tools and best practices needed to create a vision and develop a plan for enjoying the rich opportunities around them.

“…there has to be an engaged effort to help boys and girls get the guidance they need to help them have a sense of self-worth and dignity…

– – Antwone Fisher

 

Across social and economic lines boys seem to be on the decline when compared to girls. What is happening to young men in this generation? What can be done to put them back on the right track?

It’s not a boy problem or a girl problem. It’s a whole problem. In just a short period of time we have seen a dramatic breakdown of family and family ties. I believe that as more households have single parents, and over-worked parents for that matter, there has to be an engaged effort to help boys and girls get the guidance they need to help them have a sense of self-worth and dignity and the children have to feel empowered.

This book is obviously about more than a tie, why did you choose to write this kind of book?

The idea came from remembering that when I entered the Navy, I could not tie a tie. My foster father wore a tie every day, but he never took the time to show me how to tie one. To show me this basic skill was not important to him. In the Navy I realized that I was never shown one of the most basic skills a young man needs to be successful. It was not about just a tie that I was not taught to tie; I was not taught to manage money, the basics of personal grooming, preparing food for myself or making spiritual choices. I was not taught how to be a fully developed, fully present man. The problem today is that far too many boys in and out of foster care are experiencing that same reality.

Secondly, I care about boys and their outcomes, because I have daughters!

You advocate journaling for boys as a part of their self development, why is this important?

It’s sort of like making a list of things you want to get done today. If you make the list and scratch them off, you know how you spent the day. If you journal your thoughts, you know how you felt at a particular time and you acknowledge those feelings. The feelings are real and I think it’s easier to understand yourself when you journal and honor those feelings and the power to move past them. Self-expression is good for the soul.

So many boys are now being parented in single parent homes with their mothers as their only parental role model. How can mothers use this book as a resource for their sons?

I think there are many lessons that mothers don’t even know that they need to teach young men or young women for that matter. Perhaps they didn’t learn the basics themselves, but they want to make sure that their children understand that in addition to trendy clothing, you have to have a blue blazer, white shirt, khaki pants and tie for young men and a black skirt and white shirt for young ladies. When you are dressed appropriately, you can go practically any place without feeling under-dressed or under-prepared. Mothers have to teach young men how to present themselves appropriately in diverse situations. This book is a resource to help.

Explain the role of being of service in the development of boys.

When I was in the Navy we would go on Good Will tours around the world. We would show others that Americans know how to give to others by giving our time. A few of the other sailors and I would always volunteer at orphanages. It was important to me to volunteer in service to young people because I needed that myself when I was a boy and I appreciated it when young college students volunteered in service of me. After a time, I began to realize that I was getting just as much out of serving others as the children were getting from my visits. I still volunteer, but I spend more time volunteering at the local senior citizen’s center in my community. I am convinced that helping others, helps the young people develop into remarkable leaders.

The last chapter of your book is devoted to spiritual development in the lives of boys. Why did you think it important to address this subject?

It’s not just in the lives of boys that spiritual development is important. Everyone can benefit from it. You have to believe in something greater than yourself. There are rules to follow for our spirits and we have to find our path in life from this spiritual place; this quiet, reflective place is greater than ourselves.

Evangelia Biddy, Editor-in-Chief of Junior, The Magazine about Bringing up Successful Boys, is also a contributor to Raising Boys World, an expert for Bizymoms.com,  and an educational consultant. She can be reached at ebiddy@juniorthemagazine.com

 

 

 

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