Ken Harrison on Shia LaBeouf’s “Honey Boy” Shows How a Bad Father Can Hurt So Many

“Honey Boy” actors Lucas Hedges, left, Noah Jupe and Shia LaBeouf, photographed Sept. 9 at the Toronto International Film Festival.(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

It takes a good man to make a good man. Boys who grow up with no father in the home or with just plain lousy dads emerge into adulthood with the same expectations placed on them as those who have healthy father figures. We don’t expect a student to become a teacher before completing school or a child to master multiplication without first learning the times tables, so why do we presume boys raised by bad examples of manhood will grow up and understand what it means to be a good man?

In the new Amazon Original film, ‘Honey Boy,’ we see the real-life example of this tragic dynamic. It’s based on the true anecdotal story of one individual’s journey from childhood to manhood and resulting consequences of acting out what was done to him.

Written by and based on the life of Hollywood child star Shia LaBeouf, ‘Honey Boy’ depicts the realities of Shia’s upbringing with an abusive dad. The audience sees it all. From the inappropriate pressure placed on young Shia to his father’s substance abuse issues, the foundation for the boy’s checkered journey is firmly laid, making it easier to understand the chain of events that would lead him to write the movie. Shia wrote ‘Honey Boy’ a few years ago during his time in rehab, which was court-appointed after he was arrested for terrorizing a cop and diagnosed with PTSD. Rehab brought healing to far more than just his career.

‘Honey Boy’ forces us to ask ourselves just how much a boy is responsible when he acts out of the example he’s had from bad parenting. As apparent in his most recent interviews, he seems to have reached a point of self-awareness, giving way to maturation, but what about young and teenaged Shia? How much responsibility does he deserve for exhibiting violence and substance abuse, which were modeled for him by his dad from an early age?

Shia’s erratic and destructive behavior is hardly an isolated case. Our culture is plagued by an epidemic of young men marred by absent, negligent or abusive dads. And while a troubled child star might receive the option of court-ordered rehab to wrestle with his demons, many other adolescent boys are never given that chance. Instead, society writes them off as “toxic”. All too often they end up in prison, homeless or worse.

As a society, we have become increasingly cognizant of the importance of good dads. Studies have shown myriad benefits for kids with healthy father relationships, including being less likely to experience depression, low self-esteem and behavioral problems and more likely to finish school and have better mental health and empathy.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Ken Harrison