[I’m not just raising boys, I’m trying to raise good men.]
Although I often use the above quote as a beacon for my contribution to a better society, I have been unable to find the source for this quote [so feel free to share it if you know because I would love to give credit where it’s due], but it pretty much sums up both my purpose as both a father of two boys and an educator of over two decades.
Growing up and becoming a man today is different than in my time. Frankly, it’s harder. Being a young man-in-waiting in 2018 some might say sucks (yep, that’s how some of my adolescent males have described this stage of development). And yes, I could list some of the symptoms of this disease like unfiltered pornography that is nearly two mouse-clicks away, an unrelenting pervasiveness of first-shooter and highly violent video games (which are often misogynistic in nature), an increasing number of single parent households where mom must embody two roles, and music (rap, to be exact) that idolizes the misogyny and objectification of women.
Redefining ‘Man’: Everyone’s Issue
What does it actually mean to be a man in the new millennium? What does masculinity look like? Is is supposed to look like something? Society, through social media and unhealthy stereotypes, is shouting loudly, but many of us don’t agree with its interpretation. Or subscribe to its toxic doctrine.
So, how can we, as adults and communities, support our boys and young men as they navigate a world where the stereotypes are so loud and dominating?
Teens Facing Dragons
My friend and (now) brother-in-crime, Brodie Whitney (@facingdragons), has been helping men and boys navigate this morass for the better part of a decade. As a life coach and facilitator, Brodie’s company, Facing Dragons, has helped thousands of males ages 12-65 reorient, find purpose, and redefine themselves as a man in the new paradigm. Whitney spent the afternoon with our group of twenty-five Grade 8 boys as part of our school-sponsored Boys Club Network program to develop an ongoing male mentorship group within our school.
Brodie set the stage by creating a safe environment, and when you create a safe and trusting space for people amazing and rewarding things usually follow. Grade 8 boys are no different. Whitney shared that to move forward we, as males, each need to face our dragons because what we want (and need) is on the other side of that fear. Supported by Brodie’s facilitation prowess here’s what the 13 and 14 year-old boys shared about why they are a part of the mentorship group and what they think it means.
Ah, the insight. Beautiful insight.
From Our Viewpoint
It was a powerfully motivating and inspiring afternoon, and here are our interpretations of the event and its impact on us.
Moving Mountains (one rock at a time)
My other brother-in-crime, art therapist and counselor, Gabriel Keczan, is moving mountains on rock at a time by offering a Rites of Passage (ROP) opportunity for our boys. Gabriel believes so deeply in the work and the power of ROP (as do director John Hughes and actor Farah Fawcett) that he has started a GoFundMe campaign to create bursaries to remove financial barriers so that families of all income can, if they wish, support their son’s participation in his week long mountain rites of passage retreat. Please consider supporting if you can.
Yes, we can move mountains.
We don’t have much choice anymore.
Our boys need us.
Our community needs good men.
We all have work to do.
4 thoughts on “We’re Not Just Raising Boys…”
Bravo Jeff! For taking on a topic few wish to address. Advocating for female empowerment has been overdue but today the variables for healthy children has shifted. For some time now boys have floundered. The data has been obvious but no one wished to address the climate because they could not reconcile the reality with injustices toward females. The plain truth is that our’ progressive ‘ culture has harmed everyone. Despite female oppression, ive seen our boys and young men flounder. Just check out grad rates, scholarships, achievement…and educators know males are wounded creatures. Follow the ugly misogyny of our current time and one can connect that women will not flourish if men are crippled- and they are. Any initiative for equality must be comprehensive and focused on learning for all not just the temporal data. I have been alarmed by the mixed cultural messages of masculinity and am concerned that true broad gender health is not just about getting females into college but rather nurturing intelligent growth- something our distorted culture has not embraced. Thx
Thanks, Al. I think if we bring our boys along, everyone else stands to benefit including all gender orientations. I so appreciate your words. Your wise words.
This is so very powerful and thank you for being a leader and mentor to our boys and men. Mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being is something I hold near and dear. It has taken on a deeper meaning now that I am raising two little boys and contemplate the culture that is conditioning them. Vulnerability is the new strong and I’m so grateful for men that are courageous enough to step up and challenge the status quo. Bravo!