A Dad’s Role in the Process of Initiation

There’s a saying in the South: ”No man is a man until his father tells him he is.”  Burt Reynolds  (Actor)

The glory of sons are their fathers.”  King Solomon

Hollywood Actor Burt Reynolds, was widely viewed in the 1970s and early 1980s as the quintessential man. Appearing in over 50 movies, I remember Burt Reynolds from his roles in the “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Cannonball Run” movies, and their subsequent sequels. Almost every man at the time wanted to be just like Burt Reynolds… an action man and sex symbol.

Yet few were aware that he was just like the rest of us men… acting and pretending… hiding behind a persona that we men typically tend to create for ourselves… of what we believe society requires a man to be and do. It wasn’t until an interview with Dotson Rader in 1992, at the age of 56 years, that the truth of this in Burt Reynolds’ life was revealed. This is what he had to say…

“There’s a saying in the South: “No man is a man until his father tells him he is.” It means that someday when you’re 30 or 40, grown up, this man – whom you respect and love and want to love you – puts his arms around you and says, “You know, you’re a man now, and you don’t have to do crazy things and get into fistfights and all that to defend the honour of men. You don’t have to prove anything. You’re a man, and I love you.” We never hugged, we never kissed, we never said, “I love you”. No, we never cried.” After pausing for a moment, Reynolds went on to add… “So what happened was that I was desperately looking for someone who’d say, “You’re grown up, and I approve and love you, and you don’t have to do these things anymore.” I was lost inside. I couldn’t connect. I was incomplete. I didn’t know then what I needed to know.”

Those descriptions… “lost inside”, unable to “connect”, “incomplete”, and not knowing what I need to know… are what I see and hear in the stories of the majority of men today… or at least those who are willing and courageous enough to be real. And I have to agree with Burt Reynolds as to why that is the case… because most men today are for the most-part, “unfathered”. You see I believe that the word father is most appropriately used as a verb, rather than a noun. As Author Kent Nerburn said… “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.” A boy and or young man needs a father… his Dad, or significant male other (Uncle, Grandfather, mentor, coach, teacher, Pastor etc.) to bestow masculinity upon him… to guide him along the path of authentic manhood… to love him, to affirm and bless him, to offer practical training and instruction, and when the time is right… to call him out of boyhood, and up and into authentic manhood.

Of course many Dads today feel like they don’t have what it takes to offer this to their sons, predominantly because they themselves didn’t receive what they needed to receive from their own Dads. We at ‘Fathering Adventures’ equip, enable, and empower Dads to do this, and to do it well. It is for that reason we designed and deliver our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures, and our 4 Night Father-Son Adventures. You can register for our next 5 Night Father-Son Adventure, or 4 Night Father-Son Adventure here.

You can see some photographs and read the testimonials from the fathers and the sons, from one of our previous 5 Night Father-Son Adventures here.

So how about you? Did you have a “father” who knew what you needed and provided it for you? If so, please take the time to honour him, and his efforts, here. If you didn’t… sadly you’re not alone. Would you have liked to have had a “father” who did? Do you intend to do things differently?

And a Happy Fathers Day for this Sunday to all of you Dads here in Australia. Well done for making your kids and your relationships with them such a high priority.

The Process of Initiation – from Boyhood to Manhood

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”  St Paul

In many tribal cultures, it is said that if boys were not initiated into manhood, if they were not shaped by the skills and love of elders, then they would destroy the culture. If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth.  Michael Meade  (Author)

Why are really alive and mature men so rare today? Steve Biddulph (Australian Psychologist and author) in his most recent book, “The New Manhood”, provides the answer. Because the majority of boys and young men today are not guided through “a carefully managed process” of initiation… something that all cultures offered in some form, prior to the commencement of the Industrial Revolution 300 years ago.

In Australia, the prison population is made up predominantly of men. As at 30 June 2005, 93.2% of prisoners in Australia were men. It is men who commit the overwhelming majority of sex crimes, serious motoring offences, burglaries, robberies, and violent assaults etc. Why might that be? I believe that Michael Meade has already provided the answer… because boys in our culture are not “initiated into manhood”.

So what then should a process of masculine initiation include?

  1. Dad, or a significant male other (Uncle, Grandfather, mentor, coach, teacher etc.)
  2. A Community of Men
  3. Training & Instruction
  4. Testing and challenging in the outdoors… adventure
  5. An Initiation Ceremony

Simply click on any of the above-mentioned essential ingredients, to explore further.

Our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures and our 4 Night Father-Son Adventures have been designed, and are delivered, to provide Dads with each of those essential ingredients to ensure that their sons are initiated into authentic manhood. Register for one of our upcoming 5 Night Father-Son Adventures or for our next 4 Night Father-Son Adventure.

You can see some photographs and read testimonials from the fathers and the sons, from one of our previous 5 Night Father-Son Adventures here.

You can watch a short video in the form of a movie trailer, of what you can expect from one of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures here.

I’m eager to read stories from those Dads who have initiated their sons into manhood – What did that process mean to you? What did the process mean to your son?