I feel that mixed in with some boy fun, there should be serious lessons about manhood and an opportunity to talk with men about the big issues in life. A few mentoring organizations approach that challenge head on, but it seems to me that too many of them leave it to chance. I'd like to propose the creation of a year-long rite of passage initiation, that is relevant to the times. A path that guarantees boys are exposed to some of the important issues and events that will impact and shape their lives.
I'm suggesting a monthly theme or event for boys and men that is followed up with a group meeting to talk about what happened and help the boys process their experience. I'm trying to stir your thinking here. Consider the impact of these kinds of experiences on an adolescent male:
- A visit to a jail or prison
- Working for a day on a Habitat for Humanity home build
- Going to a stockyard where animals are butchered
- Visiting the local firehouse, learning about the gear, skills, and hearing stories
- A conversation with residents at a battered women's shelter
- Visiting a Vet's hospital where they can talk with severely injured veterans
- Helping out for a few hours at a nursing home serving a meal
- Job shadowing - go to work with a man
- Hearing from women recovering from being prostitutes
- Feeding people at a homeless shelter
- Spending a weekend night at the police station
- Playing paint ball... after a discussion from a veteran about shooting at others
- Hearing a speaker from Alcoholics Anonymous or Debtors Anonymous
You get the idea, and I'm sure you have ideas you could add. Ideally, when processed in a multi-generational group of males, these experiences would drive powerful discussions about life, manhood, profession, relationship to women, and responsibility.
After a year or so of these experiences, some opportunities for fun, and directly and indirectly learning from men across the discussion circle, an adolescent male, I think , would really be ready for some form of crossing into manhood ceremony.
What do you think?
What activities would you add to the list?
How would your life be different today if, as an adolescent, you had been surrounded by good men with the focused intention to teach you about life and the journey toward a positive manhood?
Comment on this post below or send me an email.
Please consider sending this along to a man you feel might be interested. We are all learning how to do this from each other, and we need all the good men we can get.