December 29, 2008

LAAMB-ing and not FRAP-ing Boys

Out of the Boys to Men network has come a beautifully simple job description for a man who is mentoring a boy. It's called LAMMB-ing. It stands for Listen, Accept, Admire, Model, and Bless. It's something that most men can do without much effort. This man-making job description is easy enough that it might help to take away some of the fears so many men carry that prevent them from mentoring a young male. Like the one that says, "Who I am and what I know is not enough to be a man-maker for a boy."

As I write this I'm having the feeling that I too, would like to be LAMMB-ed more often. That even in my elderhood, I still hunger for men in my life who will listen to me without judgment, regularly admire my gifts, model behaviors I can learn from and absorb, and who will drop the occasional blessing on me. Who of us reading this wouldn't feel safe, cared for, and blossom in that kind of relationship?

In addition to the sweet "to do" list inherent in LAMMB, two of my man-making heroes, Edoardo Lippolis and Collin Irish at Threshold Passages, Inc., have added another acronym that takes the art of man-making up a notch. It's the very intentional avoidance of FRAP-ing others.

FRAP stands for Fixing, Rescuing, Advising (unsolicited), and Projecting. In general, these are behaviors that mentors try to stay away from in a mentoring relationship. The goal is to create an environment in which LAAMB can occur, and which creates inclusion and healing. In my experience, there is a beauty in the gentle support described by the LAMMB behaviors, and real danger when I man feels compelled to direct a young male's path through life. The problem shows up most often is when the young man is making poor choices. Those behaviors call up the latent parent, therapist, cop, or all those other potentially inappropriate and possibly damaging roles men can play. The temptation of course is to be seen as all knowing by having all the answers, even if you have to make up something that just sounds smart. Men never do that . . . right?

To avoid FRAP-ing someone, the men at TPI suggest waiting until the young male is "soliciting advice of his own volition." When that happens, and IF the man really does have solid information, he can share it with the young man. If he does not have solid information, he points the lad to someone who does. Not only does this process keep the relationship comfortable for everyone, it also gives a man the opportunity to model humility and the importance of asking others for help.

While each element of LAAMB and FRAP could have a short course all to itself, taken literally and applied, they provide the basis for safety and trust in any relationship.

If you want to know more about LAAMB-ing, FRAP-ing, and the Rites of Passage Adventure Weekend being offered by the men at Threshold Passages, Inc. check out their website at: http://www.thresholdpassages.org/

And then why not start LAMMB-ing the boys that cross your path . . . starting today?

December 17, 2008

Appropriate Rites of Passage
for Men and Boys

Wes Carter, a friend and long time advocate of men and boy’s work, told me that a much loved elder for many men in Australia, Don Bowak, died last October. It happened just a few days before the publication of his remarkable book, Marking Life’s Stages: Appropriate Rites of Passage for Men and Boys. The book is a wonderful treatment of that subject and a fine tribute to a very good man. My copy of Don’s book has many bent pages, marking the place of ideas I want to return to in order to soak up the wisdom. Here is one example of many that I liked:

One of the things I hope the men’s movement can avoid is the creation of a new stereotype. We have moved beyond both ‘Macho’ male and ‘Sensitive New Age Guy.’ Neither of them satisfies us, nor will any single replacement. What we need to develop are masculinities which delight in their varied identities and creative energies . . . I prefer the idea of a masculine field, one that embraces a wide range of masculine tendencies . . . The creation of a new set of values for the field of masculinity will be the task of all men. No one man or any elite group can achieve such a thing. But each of us can say what is of value to us and thus make out contribution to the dialogue . . . .

Don’s thoughts on the power of rituals, using “intention and metaphor” in creating effective rituals, building the ritual community, opening and closing ritual space, and even the shadow side of ritual, make his book a solid read. If you are interested in building powerful and transformational containers for rite of passage work there are pearls in this book you won’t want to miss.

The book is not yet available in the US, but for $25 US (includes shipping), you can order your copy of this book from the Pathways Foundation in Australia by sending an email to info@pathwaysfoundation.org.au.

I honor the memory and spirit of Don Bowak. In his life and work many have been and will be considerably blessed.

December 10, 2008

Band of Brothers: Older Men Learning to Bless. . . and Step into their Right Male Place

Witness the opening of the hearts and minds of men. Men finding themselves, so they are prepared to bless and support boys. It's a beautiful thing.



If the video is not visible, you can view it at this link.

Is there a hunger for this in you?

December 7, 2008

Man-Making Survey Results

Thank you all for your responses. I heard from an amazing %10 of you, almost 50 replies in less than a week! I received wonderful affirmations, inspirational statements about your interest in man-making, great suggestions for new content, and a couple of powerful challenges. I’ve made a full copy of the survey results available to you at this link. But here is a short sample of your responses to the three questions:

1. “What kinds of Man-Making content do you find most interesting?” While I know this was a limited and “forced choice” question, your responses brought the following responses:
  • Rites of Passage - 29
  • Men's Stories - 27
  • Mentoring - 24
  • Men's Development - 20
  • Activities for Boys and Men - 18
  • Related Research - 18
  • Men's Group References - 16
  • Guy Humor - 13
  • Inspirational Content - 13
  • Single Parenting of Boys - 11
  • Book Reviews - 10
  • Sports and Man-Making - 7
  • Boy's and Men's development, as intertwined and ongoing - 1
2. “Why do you stay subscribed to this blog?” This question brought what I consider to be heartwarming responses such as:

It makes me feel good about being a man.

To hear about the community of men and boys.

I pass along the info to my son who has custody of my grandson who lives with his grandmother and I while our son is in school.

I work with kids and I'm always open to new ideas and concepts that might help me to do that the best way possible

It inspires me to believe that I can make a difference in life-as I am.

It connects me to a community that doesn't exist elsewhere for me.

It provides wisdom I would never have access to.

To understand men's views feelings, reasons they do what they do.

3. “What's ONE thing I can do with this blog to make it better for you?” This important question prompted two pages of really great suggestions. A very short summary of those would include:
  • More ideas on how to recruit men to volunteer
  • Invite men's comments and get a dialog going
  • YouTube videos with rituals of men from around the world
  • Bring more ugly truth about the true state of affairs with boys & men
  • Offer some content about man-making from outside the USA
  • Get more authors involved and contributing
  • Examples (and pictures?) of families and groups doing rites of passage
  • Interviews with people working in the field
  • Stories from the boys that have gone through passage rituals
  • Infiltrate the 'inner cities' – let’s hear more from men of 'color'
  • Tell us about Sports and Christianity, Christian men's groups, initiation within the west (Jewish), hunting and manhood, war and manhood
In the future I will do my best to respond to your comments and suggestions. In the mean time, please consider this your blog too. The man-making challenge is too big and important for one man’s view and voice to prevail. Please send along any content you feel your brothers (and sisters) in mission may find interesting. We'll all get the benefit of your view, and more boys and men may be served in some way as a result.

Thanks so much for your support, your contributions, and for caring about boys.

Earl

December 3, 2008

This one is about YOU!

After publishing this blog for almost five years, it's time to get to know YOU, the almost 500 subscribers. This blog has an almost zero unsubscribe rate and new people are joining all the time. That makes me happy. It means the content so far is on track, and more people are becoming interested in this important cause.

This quick, 3 question survey will help me decide the future content direction for this blog. Add your responses and then hit the "submit" button on the bottom. Anything you're willing to offer will be much appreciated. I'll report on the results in a future blog post.

Thanks for your eyeballs, comments, feedback . . . and most importantly, thanks for caring about boys.

Earl

FOR EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: If you have trouble view the form in the email post, just go to this link and fill it in online.