April 28, 2008

Why Men DON'T Mentor Boys

Right now, there are thousands and thousands of boys on waiting lists for male mentors. Add to that all those young males who desperately need mentors and are simply going without. That situation is why boys, single parents, and mentoring organizations everywhere are asking the same question. Why aren't men stepping up to this important work that only they can do?

In the research for my Man-Making book I asked men a lot of questions about their journey toward manhood. In question ten I specifically asked them to . . . look deep in your heart. Ask yourself, "Are you actively involved, in some way, large or small, in the life of an adolescent boy? If you are, I thank you . . . If you are not mentoring a boy, help me to understand why not. Some of the responses are expected, some lame excuses, and then there are those that can only be classified as tragic.

To help men, parents, and mentoring organizations better understand the forces of resistance most men are facing when they are invited to step into mentoring, I’ve done two things:

First, I’ve summarized men’s responses in this PDF document titled, Why Men Don’t. If you’re a man, I encourage you to read it, reflect on it, and see if you can find yourself in the responses. Helping men understand their resistance factors is an important first step toward working through them.

Secondly, I’ve created a presentation for mentoring organizations. I call it Recruiting Man-Makers.The goal of this session is to think about how to target marketing messages directly at men’s resistance factors, and come up with innovative approaches to invite and attract men into the role of man-maker for boys.

Check out the article and the program description. I’ll be very interested in your comments.

You can read some of the research questions I used in the What Men Say section of the Man-Making website.


  1. Antonello10:54 AM

    Dear Earl

    I'm writing from Northern Italy. I read this summer your book Man-Making and it's very interesting. I'm a teacher (high school, Latin and Italian literature and history) but I'm often with people (especially parents and teachers)talking to them about the importance of fatherhood, mentoring, and about dangers such as drug abuse in young people.

    I think that men in Italy are too far from the young people who are asking for help to make transition toward manhood. I think in Italy men are too much interested in money, career, cars, etc, or loose time to fight against feminist movement but they don't understand the importance of mentoring the next generations. In fact, for example, in Europe my Country (Italy) is in very bad conditions about drugs, especially for young males.

  2. I agree with this post about the importance of mentors. It is critical that every able bodied adult male identify at least one boy to mentor, particularly during the summer months. When school ends for the summer many of our boys, specifically those from single parent homes, will be home alone while their mother's are at work. With no adult supervision, they are vulnerable to many negative influences; including drugs, sex, gangs, and criminal activity.

    All it takes is 5 hours a week for a man to make a phone call, a home visit, or a field trip for a boy without a father in his life to know that someone cares. I am convinced that a 5-hour per week commitment is all the encouragement a boy needs to keep him on the right track and teach him a valuable lessons about manhood and fatherhood. I know because mentor's made a difference in my life.

    The Rising Son, Inc. is fund raising for our Annual 8-Week Summer Day Camp for Boys. Monies spent on the purchase of original African Artwork and paintings by our Mentor Coordinator, David Morrison, will help to fund the camp. Check out this link if you think you might help: www.flickr.com/photos/morrisonafricanart


Your response to this blog post is appreciated and welcome.