December 28, 2005

Coaching Boys into Men

The folks at the Family Violence Prevention Fund are working to . . . prevent violence within the home, and in the community, to help those whose lives are devastated by violence because everyone has the right to live free of violence. They have some wonderful Man-Making tools that will help adult men to coach boys into young men who understand the issues of violence toward women and to help them escape some of the messages in today's music and media.

One page of their website titled Coaching Boys into Men. Whether you are an actual sports coach or not, this page has a simple but powerful formula for both teaching boys directly about violence prevention issues and for helping you walk the talk by making sure you're informed and being a great role model.

They have also produced an educational resource section called Coaches Corner. A boy's sports coach serves as a powerful Man-Maker in any young mans life. Sports not only fills countless developmental needs for young males, but the coaches position of power allows him to set the values and rules of his "tribe" of boys. The highly detailed information in Coaches Corner will help any coach to use his transformational role to the best possible advantage.

"There is only one thing more satisfying than helping a young man become a great basketball player - helping a basketball player become a great young man."
John Thompson, Sr.
Hall of Fame Coach, Georgetown University

December 26, 2005

Pathways to Manhood

This non-profit in Australia has a rich and honorable history of developing world class Man-Making programs. They have been at it for a long time, and have the intention of putting every boy in the country through their Pathways to Manhood program. If you're looking for a great model for an organizational structure that can bring the benefits of initiation and right of passage experiences to thousands of men and boys, these good men and women have your answer.

December 10, 2005

Guys Read

Jon Scieszka grew up with five brothers. He taught elementary school for 10 years, raised a daughter and son, and has written books for kids for the last 15 years. Out of his passion to get boys to read, he has created Guys Read.

Jon notes that "A lot of boys are having trouble reading," and lists the following data as testimony:

• The U.S. Department of Education reading tests for the last 30 years show boys scoring worse than girls in every age group, every year.
• Eighth grade boys are 50 percent more likely to be held back than girls.
• Two-thirds of Special Education Students in high school are boys.
• Overall college enrollment is higher for girls than boys.

That's why his mission is to: . . . motivate boys to read by connecting them with materials they will want to read.

Jon's website is a great way to accomplish that goal. His site is very boy oriented, fun, and useable. He provides a list of recommended books for Young Guys, Middle Guys, and Older Guys, and a search engine that allows searches by favorite book, favorite author, or simply a subject or topic. If you know a young guy (or not so young... Jon has an adult section too), point him at this site and see what happens.

Part of Jon's mission is to "Make some noise for boys." He says, "We have literacy programs for adults and families. GUYS READ is our chance to call attention to boys’ literacy." Just in case you want to join him in this cause, he'll give you permission to use his site and will equip you with a Guys Read poster, stickers for recommended books, and bookmarks. Very nice.

Oh, by the way, in addition to being an extremely creative approach to a huge problem, Jon is also a great role model for any man who has experience with a hobby or interest and is considering reaching out to boys. What if every adult man did something similar to help boys?

November 21, 2005


Our pal Nicolette Beard at Man-o-pause has a great website for men. Her passion statement says, "To be a bridge-builder between men and women, parents and children, community and the world-at-large would be my greatest joy." Her blog is a nice step in that direction.

She has posted a list of "Masculine Virtues" that, regardless of the source, are a great response to the question, "What should/could/do men teach boys?" Check it out here.

November 14, 2005


Why This Blog and Book?

Ojulu Agote is a Sudanese refugee whose family my wife and I mentor. When I first asked him how I might help him, Ojulu immediately responded, 'I want you to teach my son how to be a man in your country.' This man was without any real material resources and faced a mountain of practical needs that come with settling in a new culture. Yet at the top of his list was to get help guiding his son toward manhood.

I don't remember my exact reply, but I do remember being embarrassed, and feeling inadequate and unsure about how to help him with his request. In my ongoing research, I've learned that I'm not alone. It appears that as a culture not only have we forgotten how to guide our boys into manhood, but that many of the adult men, like I was, feel a little lost on the journey. Sadly, boys, men, and our communities are paying dearly for our forgetting. That's why I'm writing this book and why I've started this blog.

It is my intention that this blog will become a collection of ideas, listing of resources, questions for men, shared experience, and anything else that will help boys, men, and male elders to successfully travel on their journey to manhood.

Visit the Man-Making Website to learn more about this project and the book in the works.

November 12, 2005

Strategic Masculinity

Coaching Boys Into Men - I found this wonderful article about a coach who really gets what should be at the core of a boy's athletic program. The coach, Joe Ehrmann, is a former NFL star and lineman for the Baltimore Colts. Coach is now 55 and aside from the X’s and O’s of football, everything Ehrmann teaches stems from his belief that our society does a horrible job of teaching boys how to be men.

Not only is this article inspirational, it's yet another story how one man doing what he can will shape the lives of hundreds of boys in his community. Check it out and then tell me what you can do.

November 8, 2005

XY-Zone program

The Communities In Schools organization in central Texas has an amazing program called the "XY-Zone." This grant funded program is "addressing the personal, academic and social needs of young men ages 13-18 at Crockett and Lanier High Schools. The XY-Zone project goals are for male students to: Remain in school and improve academic performance; Improve behaviors and critical thinking regarding personal future, women, community; Stop or reduce risk-taking behavior; Increase the mindset of the importance personal responsibility and accountability.

The funds underwrite two full-time case workers, one for each campus, to work specifically with 50 male youth at each school. It also covers field trips, community service projects and other enrichment activities.

What a great concept and model for your community. Donald Bentz is one of the coordinators if you'd like more information. Contact him at:

October 11, 2005

A lopsided gender revolution?

This 1999 article is another good summary of the "emotional miseducation" of boys. The author calls it "A lopsided gender revolution." If you want a quick primer on why men should show up for the boys in their communities, this short article would be a good starting point.

September 28, 2005

Guys Read

"When it comes to boys and reading, a lot of boys are having trouble reading." Author Jon Scieszka is one very cool dude. He's got this very funky website dedicated to getting young guys to read. He points out the following data:

* The U.S. Department of Education reading tests for the last 30 years show boys scoring worse than girls in every age group, every year.

* Eighth grade boys are 50 percent more likely to be held back than girls.

* Two-thirds of Special Education Students in high school are boys.

* Overall college enrollment is higher for girls than boys.

As part of his important mission he says he wants to:

1. Make some noise for boys. We have literacy programs for adults and families. GUYS READ is our chance to call attention to boys literacy.

2. Expand our definition of reading. Include boy-friendly nonfiction, humor, comics, graphic novels, action- adventure, magazines, websites, and newspapers in school reading. Let boys know that all these materials count as reading.

3. Give boys choice. Motivate guys to want to read by letting them choose texts they will enjoy. Find out what they want. Let them choose from a new, wider range of reading.

4. Encourage male role models. Men have to step up as role models of literacy. What we do is more important than all we might say.

5. Be realistic. Start small. Boys aren't believing that reading is wonderful. Reading is often difficult and boring for them. Let's start with here is one book/magazine/text you might like.

6. Spread the GUYS READ word. Encourage people to use the information and downloads on this site to set up their own chapters of GUYS READ, and get people thinking about boys and reading.

Check out to learn more about what this inspired man is doing for boys. He is definitely one of my heroes.

September 21, 2005

Pathways Foundation Camp

This is yet another solid program that enriches men and boys on their journey to manhood. Since 1995 they have been hosting a program that involves a five day camp attended by boys and their fathers (or an appropriate male mentor). I love their goal statement: The aim of Pathways is to bring out the potential in young men and have them full of hope and inspiration as they look to the future. To see a model of a very successful program and for inspiration about what you might create in your community, check out their site.

September 15, 2005

Public - Private Miracles!

Amachi is an Ibo, West African, word that means, “Who knows but what God has brought us through this child.” It is also the name of a program that is a partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Maryland and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Amachi is a nationwide program, which began in Philadelphia, and is growing rapidly in Central Maryland. This program connects children of prisoners with people of faith, and so far the Maryland program has created more than 200 matches from 30 congregations. It is commonly known that children of prisoners are likely to end up in prison themselves without positive intervention by caring adults. I'd say that 200 matches with the potential to keep a lot of kids out of prison represents a whole bunch of miracles.

Could the people at your place of worship step up for something like that?

Check it out.

September 9, 2005


e-Mentoring is a program from Achieve Minneapolis. It hooks up school kids with working adults... by email! Now you can make a difference in a kid's life from your computer. The e-Mentoring model is simple. One student is matched with one mentor. The students and mentors exchange weekly e-mail messages, and have occasional face-to-face meetings for a personal connection. Teachers provide specific assignments that direct e-mail communications between the partners. And at the completion of the program, everyone celebrates!

Achieve Minneapolis even offers you the complete manual on their website so you can start a program like this in your company or community. Their research says that, "Evaluation of e-Mentoring programs shows that great relationships develop between students and mentors. Teachers give the program high marks, and employers see benefits not only to students, but also to company employee volunteers."

If you're at all digital, here's a way to make a big difference with and elegantly simple program.

September 6, 2005

Communities In Schools

XY-Zone: This program, based in central Texas, is sponsored by Communities In Schools, or CIS. It's a great expample of an how an orgainzation can put human arms around young males. Their website points out that CIS, through the XY-Zone, "...provides participants with job readiness services, support groups, mentors, community service projects, peer education, and facilitates group discussions around issues associated with men's health information and adolescent pregnancy." Very nice.

August 27, 2005

Wilderness Awareness Community School

What a great way to teach young people about themselves and the world around them. This group gets my vote as a a great example of good mentoring and youth development.

"The Mission of the Wilderness Awareness Community School is to create an educational environment that helps teen-agers engage their natural intelligence and awakens their innate abilities to perceive and connect with the world around them. Our students immerse themselves in intensive, experiential studies of nature from both scientific and indigenous perspectives. In this effort, our students are instructed and supported by a large, diverse community of mentors from all ages and walks of life."

Be sure to read their discussion of Teaching through Mentoring

August 15, 2005

Mentoring black boys in Chicago

Young Minds Magazine: This mag from the United Kingdom has a great report on the "Michelle Clark Middle School on Chicago's west side, where a new youth mentoring scheme run by 100 Black Men of America is endeavouring to help black boys at risk of being sidelined within special education to stay instead within mainstream schooling." 100 Black Men of America, is a 32 year old national organisation with a membership of over 10,000 spread across 86 chapters in the US and abroad. These men volunteer to work "with individual schools, many of them battling against almost insuperable odds, to try to reverse the downhill trajectory of boys identified as being at risk. They set themselves the task of working preventively with black boys identified by their schools as heading towards special education."

Read this to be inspired about the heights of some men's motivation, and the impact in boy's lives that results.

August 10, 2005

Urban Boat Building

Urban Boat Building - Boat Building and Boat Instruction: If you were looking for a great model about how to do what you love and at the same time, connect with kids in your community, Urban Boat Builders is hard to beat.

"Urban boatbuilders is a youth service agency that uses wooden boatbuilding as a means to support positive youth development, academic achievement, and the development of a variety of hard and soft skills that help young people find and keep jobs. We work with young people in schools, after school, and in correctional settings."

If you have a passion, hobby or interest that you think just might be fun for kids, check out this site for some serious inspiration.

August 9, 2005

Boys tackle each other; girls whisper secrets

The importance of "rough and tumble" play for boys: This is a great article describing the work of Dr. Thomas Reed, professor and researcher of childhood education at the University of South Carolina. It describes why "rough and tumble play should not only be tolerated, but why it's necessary for the physical, socio-emotional and cognitive development of boys.

August 2, 2005

What's On at ManAlive

Supporting Men and Boys: The good people at ManAlive, New Zealand's biggest and most comprehensive men's centre, have as part of their mission the goal of supporting "men and boys of all ages to gain understanding and strength in their relationships with partners, children, family and friends." They have great community programs for men and "an extensive range of programs for youth and boys of all ages."

This is organization is a powerful force for changing masculine lives in their community and making the world a better place in general. They are high on my list of award winning organizations that are doing man-making work.

July 27, 2005

Coaching Boys into Men

The Family Violence Prevention Fund: "Boys are swamped with influences outside of the home, from friends, the neighborhood, television, the internet, music, the movies, everything they see around them. They hear all kinds of messages about what it means to be a man; that they have to be tough and in control." The people at The Family Violence Prevention Fund feel that too many of those messages invite violence and especially violence towards women.

The get that boys need positive men around them as guides, coaches, mentors and role models. The have created a great little pamphlet that provides a clear, eight-step job description if you're a man willing to step up to the challenge. Check it out...

July 23, 2005

Men Stopping Violence

Men Stopping Violence: " locally, nationally, and internationally to dismantle belief systems, social structures, and institutional practices that oppress women and children and dehumanize men themselves."

If we're going to raise boys into self-respecting, loving, compassionate, strong men, we have to quit showing them models and images of male violence against women and children. This group is making that kind of difference.

July 11, 2005

Building Men for Others

Rev. Joe Ehrmann is the driving force behind the Building Men for Others organization. He is on a campaign to help men reclaim their manhood and become mentors and coaches for boys. He says, "Tonight over 40 percent of American children will go to bed in homes in which their fathers do not live. In addition, 68 percent of all black children and 30 percent of all white children are born outside of marriage. Of the fathers in the home, and the male-mentor-coaches involved in our boy's lives, many have been given little or no specific instructions in defining masculinity or in understanding what a man is and what a man does."

As an ex-professional football player it's interesting to learn that he feels professional sports are having a negative impact on males. He says, " is estimated that 90% of American boys regularly or often watch televised sports programs, with their accompanying commercials that influence and improperly define masculinity." He feels that given the "extraordinary numbers of boys who consume a sports masculinity formula” there needs to be a "countering message that correctly defines masculinity, and the proper role of coaches and sports so that they can positively influence the development of boys to men."

This is truly a man who "gets it," and is making a big difference. Rev. Ehrmann is one of my heroes.

July 6, 2005

Where Volunteering Begins

VolunteerMatch: This organization exists to get you hooked up with an organization in your community that needs your help. By entering your zip code and your volunter "interest area" on this website, a search will quickly develop a list of places in your neighborhood where you can make a positive difference. Some of them will undoubtedly be youth serving organizations. But no matter where you're involved, building community builds good kids. Try it out. Make a difference.

June 21, 2005

Finding Our Fire

The Finding our Fire Project: Martin Brossman, like me, has a book in the works. His book Finding our Fire, is also a call to men. Martin says his book is for men who, "have the courage to work on themselves and have seen the value of building healthy fellowships with other men." At the heart of his book are a series of evocative and thought provoking questions that have evolved over the last 10 years of the Men's Inquiry, a support group experience for men. Taken together, these questions paint a powerful picture of an informed, aware, available, healthy, and self-loving and self-respecting man. These questions are, in fact, one really good map of the mature masculine territory. This is guidance that many men will find incredibly reassuring and helpful.

Martin hopes his book will be a resource that inspires the creation and direction of men's groups, and enhances the lives of the men involved. I continue to feel that ANY man, regardless of his preparation, can be a life giving mentor and model for a young male. However, the more of yourself you understand and accept, the more of yourself you'll have to give. Doing some of the "work" Martin is suggesting by exploring the questions he poses, will help men to better understand their core masculine value and worth. THAT will be a huge gift to both the man and the young men who are learning about manhood by watching them.

You can read about the Finding our Fire Project on it's website, or if you want to be involved in this research by responding (anonymously) to some of the questions, you can send an email to: It's an activity that's sure to raise your male literacy a notch or two.

June 14, 2005

Men Can Stop Rape - MCSR

Building "Men of Strength":

Talk about what a young male on the journey to manhood should know! Awareness of the prevalence and costs of violence against women, and how is programmed into a male in our American culture would be high on my list. If you think you're "clean," check this site out.

"Men Can Stop Rape (formerly Men's Rape Prevention Project) empowers male youth and the institutions that serve them to work as allies with women in preventing rape and other forms of men's violence. Through awareness-to-action education and community organizing, we promote gender equity and build men's capacity to be strong without being violent."

June 8, 2005

Making Men and Mentors

The Mens Leadership Alliance

I fully believe that ANY man who decides to be present for a boy, at some level, is a gift to that boy. I also believe he's doing himself a huge favor, but that's a different topic. The Men's Leadership Alliance is all about mentoring men into a more full expression of their masculine selves. Their program "... is designed to stimulate positive and dramatic shifts in the way you respond to your inner world, your partner, your family and friends, your work, your home place and the world."

I think that the better a man knows himself, and is clear about his various masculine roles, the more likely he is to acceprt some responsibility for the upcoming generations of men. He's also better equipped for that job. You don't have to be evolved, educated, or specially trained as a man to make a wonderful and positive difference in a boy's life. But the more of yourself you're in touch with, the more of you you'll have to offer.

June 3, 2005

Voice Male Magazine

The Men's Resource Center:

The Men's Resource Center (MRC) is a solid and mature organization that since 1992 has been calling men to step into their non-violent power and leadership. Along with their Voice Male Magazine, MRC represents part of that fertile ground from which true "mature masculinity" is emerging.

"Voice Male, the quarterly magazine of the Men's Resource Center for Change (MRC), is a unique piublication chronicling the social transformation of masculinity. Its male positive, pro-feminist, gay-affirmative, anti-racist approach invites a range of voices promoting healthy manhood and challenging violence. Columns on fathering, youth, men of color, men who have survived abuse or neglect, gay and bisexual men, and men's health, are augmented by feature stories on a range of topics from male violence in sports to pornography's manipulation of men; from how men cope with losing their fathers to how women and men can work together for social justice and gender reconciliation."

May 31, 2005

Men's Fears Around Mentoring Boys

Man-Making: Men Helping Boys on their Journey to Manhood

Why Men Don't Mentor Boys

     In this PDF article I've detailed some of the significant personal and societal barriers to man-making I uncovered in my research. I've described just a few of the many challenges men will have to overcome on THEIR journey to manhood if they are going to successfully mentor boys. You may be surprised to find yourself described in this document.

May 24, 2005

A GREAT Boys/Men Conference

Boys to Men 2005

Someday I'll keynote this conference. I think they are pioneers in this work and have created one of the best gatherings on this topic. Even the design of this meeting includes time for "fun." They say, "Mixed with the keynotes and discussion groups are more than 40 workshops. While some of those workshops deal with such issues of parenting, dating, depression, or bullying, many others are designed to allow boys and men to just have fun. Want to learn to fix a bike, or try your hand at fly tying? Want to do some acting, cartooning, hip-hop, or rap? At Boys to Men, there are all sorts of options for boys and men to do things they enjoy, and hopefully, even try some things that are new.

The Governor of Maine says, "Boys to Men represents how a community can carry new lessons and strong values into the hearts of communities and the individuals who live there."

If you're among the super-motivated in this work, consider using this Boys to Men gathering as a model of a way to raise a ton of consciousness, teach important lessons, help men remember the transformational power in a simple connection to a boy, and change lives in real time.

May 9, 2005


Man-Making: Men Helping Boys on their Journey to Manhood

I think I've finally landed on a title that says exactly what this book is about. I'd be very interested in your opinion. Leave a comment here or visit the new, upgraded, easier to navigate website and leave a message there.


May 3, 2005

Rough & Tumble Play???

Boys wil be boys!?: This site is very helpful in learning the difference between play fighting, 'rough and tumble play,' emotional conflict, and the aggression in bullying.

April 21, 2005

Jeff Weise High School Shooter

CBS News | Troubled Life Of Minnesota Shooter: "Weise went on a rampage, shooting to death his grandfather and the grandfather's companion, and then invading his school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. Armed with two pistols and a shotgun, he killed nine people and wounded seven before shooting himself to death in the nation's bloodiest school shooting since Columbine High in Colorado six years ago."

Authorities are investigating. Well let's see, Dad shot himself, mom is in a nursing home, grandpa carries a gun, he admired Hitler because he had lost his parents, he sketched gruesome comics of death for his English class, wore long black coats, boots and chains like the Columbine shooters, he'd been bullied at school, he blamed rap music for some of his violent tendencies, he was suicidal, taking a LOT of Prosaic, and had few friends. But what could the problem be??????

This was another lost boy, without positive, adult male influence, desperately waving many flags for help. Would the attention and regular involvement of an interested, supportive, and caring adult male, or better, a group of men have helped? Maybe we should investigate.

April 10, 2005

How to Coach Boys into Men

Coaching Boys into Men

"Be there. If it comes down to one thing you can do, this is it. Just being with boys is crucial. The time doesn't have to be spent in activities. Boys will probably not say this directly -- but they want a male presence around them, even if few words are exchanged."

The Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPA) is an organization dedicated to stopping violence against women. On this website they list a short but powerful, seven item formula, describing ways men can positively influence boys. If men were to show up for boys in these ways, they would teach boys a lot about respect, manhood, and relationships with women. In addition, just by being with a boy and without much effort on the man's part, they would also teach boys thousands of smaller but very critical lessons about how to be a man. Men ARE the book on manhood most adolescent boys are hot to read... and they do, by constantly watching men... whether men realize it or not.

April 3, 2005

Schools, Sexism, and Boy Violence

Schools, Sexism and Violence:

"...boys are socialized from a very young age to be tough, in control and aggressive"

This website is about a men's group based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, doing something to save boys from the worst of many negative cultural messages about "men," and manhood. This Men For Change group is volunteering in schools with a curriculum titled: Healthy Relationships: A Violence-Prevention Curriculum for grades 7, 8 and 9. They are going after the core messages we teach boys about being tough, in control, and aggressive to get their needs met. This work is nicely summed up in their intention statement...

"We need to all work together and challenge the deeply ingrained illusion that we are all locked into a rigid stereotype, tough and aggressive for boys, passive and beauty-bound, for girls. Then and only then will we be helping teach our students, and ourselves, not the law of the jungle where only the strongest survive, but rather the choices needed to build healthy relationships based on cooperation and trust in which everyone is thrives."

These men are some of my heros!

March 31, 2005

Boys, Men, and Stinky the Robot

Stinky the Robot, Four Kids And a Brief Whiff of Success

I just love this story because it stands for everything I believe in. For almost lost high school boys and a couple of men that engaged the boys in building an underwater robot, beat a highly educated and well funded team of MIT types in a national competition. Kind of a boy cinderella story.

You can read this short story and learn about it's terribly sad aftermath. But it's still powerful testimony about the power of an adult male's positive influence in a boy's life.

If you know of other stories like this one, please share them with me. I'll post them on the Journey to Manhood website to inspire us all.

March 29, 2005

Become a Communitarian

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam

Harvard’s Robert Putnam, is a true Communitarian. In his now classic book Bowling alone, he says that if people are involved in their communities, our society will be "smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy." When people are involved in their community it also makes it a wonderful place to raise young people.

Sadly, his research, based on 500,000 interviews over the last 25 years, indicates we’re all moving… no running in the other direction. He says Americans are more isolated from each other and less engaged in civic life than ever. Try on these findings and see if it fits your experience.

• Since the mid 60s, the number of Americans who reported that they had attended a public meeting or town or school affairs has fallen by more than a third.

• Labor union membership has fallen for three decades.

• The ranks of volunteers for civic organizations has plummeted. In the 70s nearly two-thirds of all Americans attended club meetings, but by the late 90s nearly two-thirds of all Americans never do.

• Involvement in politics has declined and fewer than half the population vote in presidential elections.

• We spend about 35% less time visiting with friends than we did thirty years ago. Leisure activities that involve doing something with someone else, from playing volleyball to playing chamber music, are declining. The premise of his book is that we're even bowling alone. More Americans are bowling than ever before, but they are not bowling in leagues.

The burning question is: What might you do support the young people around you… and to become a communitarian?

Click here to order Bowling Alone from Amazon

MENTOR: A National Voice

Mentor is THE national organization working to develop strong mentoring programs around the country. If you want to start a program that involves adults showing up for kids, this would be a great place to start. In addition to a multitude of other resources they also offer a design template for a solid mentoring group.

"MENTOR is widely acknowledged as the nation's premier advocate and resource for the expansion of mentoring initiatives nationwide. As such, MENTOR works with a strong network of State and Local Mentoring Partnerships to leverage resources and provide the support and tools that mentoring organizations need to effectively serve young people in their communities. "

March 22, 2005

Facts: Who Needs Mentors

Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota: "Fast Facts about Mentoring in America

35.2 million young people ages 10-18 in US today
1 out of 4 lives with only one parent
1 out of 10 was born to teen parents
1 out of 5 lives in poverty
1 out of 10 will not finish high school

About half of young Americans - 17.6 million young people - want or need caring adult mentors to help them succeed in life. Of those 17.6 million young people, 2.5 are currently in formal mentoring relationships.

That leaves 15.1 million youth still in need of formal mentoring relationships. Based on Census data, the Mentoring Partnership estimates 450,000 Minnesota youth alone would benefit from a mentoring relationship. They say, "We call this our mentoring gap."

And this is just one state!

March 21, 2005

Gender REALLY Matters - In School

Salt Lake Tribune - Opinion: " The first step to overcoming gender, it turns out, is admitting how much it matters. "

I loved this article that clearly lifts us out of the "unisex stew" and talks about how boys and girls brain biology develop differently. It clearly names just two of the many ways these brain differences can damage both boys and girls. It hints at some of the critical flaws in the design of our whole education system.

Read this at the risk of becoming a radical!

March 15, 2005

MOTHERS and Making Good Men

This article, written by New Zealander Jo Bailey and reported in ManAlive news, is about Celia Lashlie, a former prison guard who speaks to the dilemma facing concerned mothers who are raising boys. She gives some surprising advice to mom's and yet another call for the men to step forward.

"If adolescent boys could tell their mothers one thing, what would it be?

Chill out and stop asking so many questions...!

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

March 10, 2005

Boys and positive body image

I'm old enough to remember seeing the adds in comic books that showed the big, muscular guy at the beach kicking sand in the face of the skinny guy. Like most gangly adolescents, I wanted what the big guy had. I don't remember what the add was selling but I do have a rather tragic memory of me endlessly lifting weights in the basement or our house to pump myself up... body image isn't just a female issue.

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders are predominantly "female" problems, they also affects boys. NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Assn., says that "In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia..." and another 25 million are dealing with binge eating.

This link on their site has especially good advice for helping boys have a positive body image and dealing with others around this issue.

February 24, 2005

Lord of the Flies

I was recently reminded of a book I read a long time ago titled, Lord of the Flies. It’s a thought-provoking novel authored by William Golding in 1954. In great detail, this book describes the challenges of a band of young boys stranded on an island by a plane crash. In short order and without adult input, these boys establish a cruel hierarchy based on competition and power. Today we’d call them a gang. The book presents a tragic remainder and vivid description about how adolescent males left without adult male guidance have no choice but to invent their way into their own misguided notions of manhood.

Click here to order Lord of the Flies from Amazon

February 21, 2005

Brutal Rites of Passage for Boys

Poking around the net, I came across these scary descriptions of what some might call barbaric rite of passage rituals for boys. If you can imagine, these acts were performed by the men of the village who had watched these boys grow up, knew the boys and their parents. They were also the men whose sacred job it was to insure the young males became established in their manhood and stepped into new roles of responsibility in their community. The men knew that the survival of their tribe depended on the success of this critical rite of passage.

While my "modern" psyche has trouble with what was physically done to the boys (and I'm not recommending it), part of me wishes that like those boys, I had been surrounded by a group of adult men who cared enough about my future, that they would stop their lives and take the time required to teach me everything they knew about manhood. And then be strong enough to inflict the pain required to mark me as a male, clearly and without question, on the way to manhood.

"While boys do not experience such clear physiological markers of transition to adulthood as menstruation, their rites of passage to this new status in some cultures are more severe than for girls. Among the Barabaig of East Africa, the boys' heads are shaved and their foreheads are cut with three deep horizontal incisions that go down to the bone and extend from ear to ear. This scarification leaves permanent scars that identify a male as having received 'gar.' Sometimes, the incisions are deep enough to show up on the skulls of dead men.

Among the Luise Indians, boys had to undergo severe ordeals such as laying on red ant mounds and not crying out from pain as they were repeatedly bitten over long periods of time. They were also given toloache , a powerful hallucinogenic drug that made them ill and apparently sometimes caused their death.

Among some Australian Aborigine societies, a boy being initiated was expected to repeatedly hit his penis with a heavy rock until it was bruised and bloody. He also had several of his incisor teeth knocked out with a sharp rock by the adult men who were instructing him in the duties and obligations of manhood and the secrets of their religion.

All of these rite of passage rituals were intended to be painful in order to increase the importance of the transition to adulthood."

February 16, 2005

Men and Boys in Advertising

In the absence of solid, real life role models, boys learn about manhood from the media. In an era where kids see 20,000 to 40,000 commercials a year, the picture of manhood that's projected is a powerful influence. Here's what the people at Children Now say:

"In the last few years, much public attention has been focused on the issue of how boys are faring in America. In the search for answers, parents, public officials, academics, and child advocates have been looking more and more closely at the role of media in boys' development. Boys, in their daily media consumption, can see various types of men, from stay-at-home dads to professional wrestlers. But despite the broad range of images, boys get consistent messages that they must be strong and tough, and must never show their vulnerability. Advertising reinforces similar messages."

February 9, 2005

Urban Boat Builders

"Urban Boatbuilders, Inc. or (UBI) is a non-profit resource for youth to develop life skills through the building and use of small boats."

This group in St. Paul, MN, has put together a great boy-man organization. Boy intimacy is very much side-by-side, and if you mix in tools, building boats, and learning boating on water skills, you have a great formula for mentoring and positive role modeling for young guys.

"Since 1996, we have worked with more than 1,200 youth who have completed 100 boats. More than 300 youth have been introduced to an on-the-water experience in a boat built with their own hands." A big YES to this organization and other like it.

Do you have a hobby or interest like this you could use for mentoring the boys around you? I have little doubt that if you are passionate about your interest, there are a half-dozen boys with in 5 miles who would be too.

February 8, 2005

Why Men Don't

This is an article (downloadable PDF) I've written exploring the fears, concerns, and vulnerabilities men expressed in my research, that keep them from showing up for the many under-male-nourished boys around them.

Some of the fears are appropriate, such as their concern about the sick norm in our culture that causes people to raise an eyebrow when an adult male shows interest in mentoring boys. This is just one of the barriers to be overcome, and why courage will be necessary if men are going to ever show up for the boys.

I'd be interested in your feedback, here or on the website. If your an adult male and you're not mentoring a boy or boys, what are your fears and concerns.

February 6, 2005

Boy's & Men's Sexual Health

"Boys and men have been left out in our efforts to improve sexual and reproductive health."

Just one of the ways our boys are left ill-equipped for manhood is the lack of guidance around their sexuality. This article from, a general medical journal website from the UK, is promoting the idea that in a world that largely focuses on women's fertility and sexual health, boys and men are terribly under-informed. They say, "the few services provided for boys seem not to help." One of the many studies they cite in this web article says, "Boys consulted by the Sex Education Forum said that their formal sex education is "too little, too late, too biological" and that it fails to prepare them to deal with sexual relationships, contraception, abortion, and their sexual identity."

They present a solid, 3-part answer to this problem. One small part of which is encouraging the, "practicing condom use during masturbation." You'll have to read the short article to figure that one out.

February 4, 2005

Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man

In this interview at, Susan Faludi, author of Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, paints a frightening vision of the brutal forces that have been, and are shaping masculinity today. Far from being an attack on men, Susan is on "our side," and calling men to awarnenss and positive action.

She talks about the "cultural betrayal" of men, "the ways men, like women, are imprisoned in cultural stereotypes," and why our boys, in the absence of clear path to positive manhood, turn angry and self-destructive. Here is a little taste of her interview.

"I don't see how you can be a feminist and not think about men. One of the gross misconceptions about feminism is that it's only about women. But in order for women to live freely, men have to live freely, too. Feminism has shown us that what we think of as feminine is actually defined by cultural messages and political agendas. The same holds true for men and for what constitutes masculinity. Being a feminist opens your eyes to the ways men, like women, are imprisoned in cultural stereotypes."

Like my book, Susan's book calls men to action. I own it and it's very much worth a read.

Click on the title below to order this book from Amazon:
Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man

January 30, 2005

Boys to Men Mentoring Network

I have personally worked with this group and find them to be conscientious, successful, safe, boy and man literate, and best of all, good at what they do. The BTM program is a model that is being replicated by dedicated groups of men around the USA.

"At Boys To Men, through a structured yet informal program, we have created a unique and safe place where boys between the ages of 12 and 16 can regularly interact with committed, conscientious adult men. With the understanding that inside each boy is a 'man of honor,' we help these boys discover their own individual strengths, talents and gifts. Armed with this information, these boys can then develop positive life skills and goals that can be expressed in their lives and shared within their community."

January 25, 2005

YOUR Passage to Manhood

On the Journey To Manhood website, I've been asking men a series of questions about their transition from boyhood to manhood. The responses take my breath away. They also provide a facinating glimpse into the modern male psyche. Question 14 is just below. See what it conjurs up in you.

RITES OF PASSAGE: Ritual, ceremony, and people gathering around a boy to mark his natural life transitions can be enormously helpful. These events help a boy know he's on the right track, making progress and is approved of by his family and/or his community. The absence of these events contributes to a boy feeling lost, alone, and unsure about his direction in life.

What did you experience?

Did your "tribe" gather around you in any meaningful way?

What Rite of Passage experiences, formal or informal, positive or negative, do you remember on your journey to manhood?

You can reply here or go to the website, read other men's responses, and share yours, if you're inclined.

January 20, 2005

The Return of Manhood Symposium

FrontPage Magazine has done men a great service. They have sponsored a symposium and invited some of the most male-literate thinkers, writers, educators... to consider the possibility that the assault on manhood, which has been a way of life for a generation or two, may actually be lifting...some.

If you're a man and only read one item about your gender role this week or this month, this would be a great article to put in your to-do pile.

"After years of creeping feminization, manhood and masculinity appear to have made a significant comeback in American society. Since the national security crisis of 9/11, America has rediscovered the virtues of soldiers, firemen, policemen and other traditionally male (and masculine) professions that require courage and physical strength. What explains this phenomenon? Why is manhood, once again, being held in high esteem? Or is this all just a mirage, destined to vanish in the near future? "

January 14, 2005

When did you become a "man?"

On the Journey to Manhood website, I asked the following question to men from all over the world:

What was THE moment in your life when you knew, for sure, that you had become a 'man?' Who was there? What was done? What event, action or ceremony took place so that you knew a line had been crossed and you were now a 'man' (or at least more man than boy)?

If you don't have a good answer, why not?

You can read men's responses on the JTM website.

A Coming of Age Program

"Chaka," is a coming of age program for aboriginal youth in Canada. It was created by Chee Mamuk, an Aboriginal organization in Vancouver that provides education and training on HIV/AIDS and STDs.

They offer a wonderful picture of what a contemporary rite of passage program for young males can look like. The details are especially rich, and highly relevant to their culture. I love the way they have incorporated ritual smudging, drum making and men speaking to the boys. . . just the kinds of ceremony, exposure to male hierarchy, and rituals for which a young man is hardwired.

What would a rite of passage for the boys around you look like?

January 12, 2005

Rites of Passage for "civilizing" our boys

Some books on this topic take my breath away. Crossroads: The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage is one of them.

If you're only going to get one book on this topic, this would be the one.

Crossroads is a rich and fascinating collection of over fifty writings relating to the current challenges of civilizing our boys through rites of passage and the resulting sense of inclusion, purpose, sense of responsibility, and new identity that can result when these events work. The collection draws on ancient practices and current experience from different cultures from around the world. We also get the benefit of contemporary thought on the value of rites of passage from leading psychologists, anthropologists, social and religious leaders, medical professionals, educators, and even parents.

Perhaps Crossroads will become a decision point in your life.

Crossroads: The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage by Louise Carus Mahdi, Nancy Geyer Christopher, and Michael Meade, Editors, Open Court, Second Printing October 1998, ISBN 0-8126-9190-3

January 9, 2005

From Boyhood To Manhood Foundation

I think this quote on The From Boyhood To Manhood Foundation website is true for most boys:

"They don't want to have role models who are footballers, they want role models who they know personally... People who are close at home who they can emulate properly." Decima Francis

Yet another organization doing the good work. What are you doing to intentionally and positively influence the life of a boy near you?

The From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation in the London Borough of Southwark was founded in 1996 by Decima Francis and Uanu Seshmi, following concern within the community about the number of young black boys being excluded from school and becoming involved with gangs, drugs and violence. Behind their tough street image, disaffected boys like these suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. All too often they do not have positive role models or stable adults in their lives to guide them through the transition from boyhood to manhood. Excluded from school, free falling through the criminal justice system, they are on course for short and violent lives. The FBMF believes that boys in trouble deserve a chance to turn their lives around before it becomes too late."

January 5, 2005

Uncle - Helping Boys become Men

Uncle: is a spectacular example of everything I'm writing about in the book. This Australian organization is partially funded by the government, but in large part by private donations. It's very impressive. Here's how they describe themselves:

"Uncle is an monitoring and activities program for local boys without active fathers, a community-based organization committed to guiding and supporting young boys in their personal development during a challenging period of their lives. Uncle recruits, screens, trains, co-ordinates, monitors and evaluates the support of uncles in this role. Uncle also organisms, facilitates and sets up many activities, events and happenings for boys and men to play and learn together."

They describe their reason for existence as the tragic statistics that are common across the planet... which beg the question, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT!

In Australian towns and cities, as in many other modern societies today, many families grow up estranged and many boys grow up un- or under-fathered. The North Coast has the highest proportion of single parents (almost always mothers) in Australia, with 47% of children from single parent families in Byron Shire compared to the National average of 23%. Boys in these families are at great risk. We know that boys who have inadequate fathering are:

63% more at risk of suicide
85% more likely to have behavioral problems
71% more likely to drop out of school
70% more likely to end up in a juvenile state institution