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