May 27, 2008

Iron Men and Superheroes

A contributor named Jeremy sent me a link to the fun clip at the end of this post about Ironman and the development of his amazing suit. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I love the notion of super guys who can just handle it all.

In my time it was Batman and Superman. To look back at them now, it's clear they did steroids and had a strange habit of wearing their underwear on the outside of their tights. They had few friends and seemingly no interest in women... but they both had a powerful grip on my young male psyche. Ironman is just the next iteration in what I’m sure will be a long line of super guys… and gals.

At the same time that I love the super guy fantasy, I seem to be in the business of getting men to shed some armor, be a little vulnerable, and allow themselves to become some young guys hero… maybe not so super, but a powerful role model just the same. I like to tell men that the man you are right now, with all your perfections, maybe because of your imperfections, makes you a perfect candidate to be a man-maker and powerful role model in some boy's life.
Young males don’t really want a superman, just a normal man in their lives who can see what’s amazing, and powerful, and awesome about them!
If you listen closely, there is a line in this clip that says, Ironman. . . becomes a superhero through what he is able to create. I’m certain that every man reading this has that power too.

(Click here for the Link to the clip)

Who were your SUPERheroes?

Who were the regular men who showed up for you
and became real life heros?

Comment on the blog or send me you responses and I'll post them on the Man-Making website under What Men Say: Men's Stories.

May 19, 2008

Man-Making Questions for Men

My audiences, single moms, and most mentoring organizations are all asking the same question, Where are the men? Part of that answer is that so many men are lost . . . to this work, to our communities, and most tragically, to themselves.

I've often used the metaphor of a pressure cooker . . . solidly built, impenetrable, and with the contents inside under pressure. It's hard to get to know these men and harder for them to know themselves. And hard too for them to consider a connection with an adolescent male who is sure to stir the contents of that tightly sealed pot.

For so many men, that time spent between boyhood and manhood, on their journey to manhood, was filled with feelings of embarrassment, fear, isolation, confusion, pain, and for some flat out shame. . . just for starters. To be sure, most men have plenty of upside memories of cars, girls, a tribe of young males, sports, trips, sexual experimentation, hobbies, crazy risk-taking, and all the fun that was had. But it's the painful memories lurking and locked in beneath the surface that can create a powerful force for resistance to a man's involvement with boys.

One strategy for calling the men to this work, IF you can gather a group them in one place, is to get them talking about the old days and the carrying on they did as adolescents. Get them remembering and telling stories about the fun times, and then ask them questions about what else happened that was difficult. If the gathering is a safe container, and the men feel a comfortable with each other, rich, common, and often emotion laden stories will be unfolded. A common male history will be shared that can emotionally unpack men, allow them drop some of their defensive armor, and re-connect with all those complicated feelings that filled their young hearts. In the process of remembering and releasing, men often become less fearful and more open to the gifts waiting through involvement with young males.

To help with the process of opening men's hearts and calling men to this work, I'm offering a list of Man-Making discussion questions. These are the same questions I asked of the men who contributed their personal stories to the creation of the Man-Making book. You can read all the responses to these questions in the What Men Say section of the Man-Making website.

If you have a chance to pose these questions to a group of men, please do share with me how it went. I'll publish your response here as a lesson for all of us.

Another option, if you're feeling courageous, is to take yourself to the What Men Say section of the Man-Making website. Read one of the questions that speaks to you and explore the contributed responses. Better yet, answer the question yourself and send me your response. I'll be happy to publish it here and add it to those on the website.

I'm almost certain that this action on your part, like just about any involvement with adolescent males and man-making work, will most likely melt and reform your masculine heart in at least some small way.

(Here is the direct link to the PDF document titled Questions for Men about Man-Making)

May 7, 2008

In Honor of Single Moms

My work is to call men into service to boys on their journey to manhood. Along the way, I've met lots of single mothers. Those I've met do their very best they can to make it all work, raise good kids, and often do that under enormously difficult circumstances. It is a very challenging thing to be a woman alone, raising kids. Mya Angelou says everyone needs heroes and sheroes, and from my perspective, single moms are my complete and total sheroes.

So in honor of Mother's day this year, I want to honor and bless Single moms everywhere . . . for keeping it all together, for being strong and courageous, for heroically and unselfishly giving of yourself to your children, and for caring so very deeply about them.

Thank you for being you and doing your best!

From my conversations with single moms, it's clear to me that many understand and feel the man-hunger in their adolescent sons. They also know how hard it is to get good men involved with their boys and they are always on the look out for opportunities to make that happen. I do offer some suggestions about how to do that in the Man-Making book. But in this post, in support of single moms, I offer a PDF document with a list of Man-Making Books for Single Moms. Some of these books speak directly to single women raising solid boys when there aren't men around to help.

If you know a single mom, be sure to offer her a blessing on Mother's Day. If you're a man and know a single mom with a son, talk to the mom and then if it's OK, engage her son in some large or small way. You can be sure the boy is waiting for the men (you) to show up, and I'll bet the boy's mom will deeply appreciate your involvement.

Do you have a story about a single mom with a son, and men that did or did not show up? Add it to the comments below or send it along to me for posting in the Men's Stories section of the Man-Making website. I feel these are stories we all need to read, understand, and let into our hearts.