May 25, 2015

Bloke Time: Dads and Lads

Imagine a world where boys not only have dads in their lives, but those dads or other "father figures," are engaged, willing to teach their sons guy skills, and willing to risk real connection with them. That is what Phil Williams has created. He's the founder and project director of the Boys2Men Project (B2MP) in the United Kingdom.

I fully agree with the opening statement on their website, "Our project is based on the idea that every boy needs a guide or mentor to steer them through the challenging early teenage years, where so many boys flounder. The best guide a boy can have is his dad or father figure."

Dads appreciating their lads
into manhood.

Their website tag line states simply what the Boys2Men Project is all about, "Dads appreciating their lads into manhood." That statement is rich with feelings of fatherly love, caring, and by itself, it's a sweet description of a good dad's job description. Fathers are, after all, the most potent man-making force on the planet, IF they're engaged.

The B2MP video below shows lads and dads enjoying fun activities that are perfect for young guys. You'll see them working with tools, climbing on things, building a fire, cooking meat, canoeing, carving wood with a knife, riding a rope swing across a river, camping, and much more. In all the activities, the men are involved, teaching, and having fun with the young dudes. It's a young male's paradise, if you ask me.

Everyone working with men and boys knows when men show up for young guys, all the males involved are moved, changed, and made better for the experience. In the video, I loved listening to the men talk about ". . . complete bloke time with your lad . . .," watching the boys grow in front of their eyes, and the pleasure they took in the adventures and time with other men. In these outings, there are so many wins for everyone. Check out this video and see what you think.


If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

I'm so proud of Phil for making B2MP happen, proud of the dads and "father figures" who showed up, and I'm especially happy for the young men who got to be immersed in that rich pool of male nutrients. At the same time, watching that video broke my heart twice.

. . . watching that video broke my heart twice.

The first heartbreak came from simply watching the video of these men and boys sharing "bloke time." I felt deep sadness because none of that happen in my life with my dad. I literally have only a couple memories of doing anything with my father that even remotely looked like the activities in the video. He was in the house, but never really connected with me unless it was to correct one of what he perceived as my many failings. I had a father, saw him around, but in so many of the important ways, I was really fatherless. I know I'm not alone with that story!

I'm way better now. I have worked hard to understand my father and his history. I've found compassion, forgiveness, and even love for him. I've also found healthy ways to fill in those boyhood blanks left because of what I didn't get from him. However, still today I'm vulnerable to images of fathers and sons having fun together. I'm always left feeling deep father hunger, sadness, and wondering who I'd have become if I'd had an overtly loving, involved, and supportive father.

The second heartbreak is knowing how many fatherless boys will never get this B2MP kind of experience. I've come face to face with the epidemic of under-male-nourished-boys and I've seen the cost of the plague of fatherlessness so prevalent in the world today. Most recently, twelve out of seventeen boys in a high school circle I was in had no connection to their father. They were living with a bad story about their dad and themselves as a result. I've felt their anger and witnessed tears in these brave young men. I've also seen them drink in the praise and support they take from the good men who sit with them in these circles.

If you're feeling up to it, you can read yet another set of dark statistics about the impact of fatherlessness on young males on the Boys2Men Project website. You can also send Phil Williams an email (philwilliams(at)boys2menproject.co.uk) to learn more about his version of dads and lads experiences.

If you want to simply consider some other ways you might support some young guys in your world, give me a shout and let's kick around some ideas. Just imagine the good that has resulted from a good man like Phil taking the risk to get a bunch of lads and dads together for some bloke time. That could be your legacy too! And the boys ARE waiting.



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2 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:15 PM

    Boys2Men can be a very useful way to help these young men grow into being good citizens and participants in their circles. In fact studies in the US have shown that for the most difficult populations, every effort in positive contact, or training is returned almost 10-fold. for example every dollar a government spends, reduces recidivism and saves that institution over 9.4 times. The study I read, a long while ago was by Columbia University, I think.

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  2. Andrew MacDonald9:20 AM

    When you were wondering who Earl would have been had his dad given him lots of appreciation, I wondered if you'd be doing what you're doing so well if he had.

    When I was a kid I spent a lot of time trying to support my dad who was kind of invisible. In my teen years, he was in a tight spot and I spent a lot of time imagining I could take his side and support him emotionally . . . which was all backwards. It didn't really help either one of us. He was the big one and I was the little one after all!

    Much later in my life I understood that had he not been entangled with his own life, he would have fully loved and supported me. When I really got that, even though he was dead, I let him take care of the problems and made room for me to receive love and support. That's been much better.

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