December 31, 2006

Peter Pan - The Lesson

Warning, I'm on my high-horse here.

Last night I watched part of an old film in which Mary Martin, playing Peter Pan, said, Are you ready for today's lesson? And then she launched into a long song about a boy refusing to become a man.

With apologies to the original lyrics, what follows are some excerpts run together to make a point:

I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me! I don't want to wear a tie. And a serious expression... And if it means I must prepare, to shoulder burdens with a worried air, I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me. So there!

Never gonna be a man, I won't! Like to see somebody try, and make me. Anyone who wants to try, and make me turn into a man, catch me if you can. I won't grow up... And Never Land will always be, the home of beauty and joy, and neverty. I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me!
As I point out in the Man-Making book, I'm of the opinion that until a man steps into the ancient role of mentor for a boy or boys, there is a hole in his mature masculinity. Something critical in him goes undeveloped. A man can pretend his life needs to be all about him, wearing a tie or serious expression, but until he accepts his responsibility to guide the next generation of boys into manhood, he's not fully "grown up." He's living in the land of "neverty."

The premise of the book, The Peter Pan Syndrome, by Dan Kiley is the same. Too many men are inhabiting a place where, consciously or not, they are refusing the obligations of manhood.

Showing up for boys is one of the ways men can begin to self-initiate themselves into a full and responsible manhood. Until they do, the men will remain stuck in "neverty," that place between boyhood and manhood. Both they and the boys who need them will remain lost on their mutual journey to manhood.


  1. Anonymous7:23 AM

    Hi Earl,

    All the best for 2007! I just discovered your blog today, and will get your book. One comment: I would like to see us move away from the idea that manhood is a quantity that can be added to or subtracted from depending on what the man does or doesn't do, what he likes or doesn't like, etc. I would prefer that we are comfortable in the fact that we are men, regardless of what we do, for that is the fact: nothing can take away the fact that we are men.



  2. Thanks for your interest Greg. I agree that a man is a man is a man... In the book, the level of least involvement with boys is doing nothing! That's because whether you know it or not, boys are watching you for signals about how to be a man.

    I also believe that involvement with boys, deepens a man's masculinity. Gives him a bigger picture of the male universe, and "wakes him up" to personal discovery's and capacities that he may otherwise not develop. I believe that all happens naturally with involvement, and I call it a more mature masculinity.

    We ARE men regardless of what we do, but I feel we can be more "man" by showing up in intentional service to boys, families, and the community.


Your response to this blog post is appreciated and welcome.