3 Benefits of One-On-One Time

One-on-one time between a father and his child is essential, to ensure that child knows, deep within his or her innermost being, that he or she is unconditionally loved, accepted, and belongs… which is the most important message that every child needs to receive from their Dad, in order to live a whole and healthy life, and experience whole and healthy relationships, for a lifetime.

For me (Darren), one-on-one time is non-negotiable.

It is with great pleasure, that I introduce the following guest blogger… a man whom I respect greatly… a Pioneer in the international “fatherhood” movement… Mr Carey Casey, and specifically his recent short but crucial blog post, “3 Benefits of One-On-One Time”…



If you have more than one child, sometimes you still need to go one-on-one.

I often challenge dads to commit to that “alone” time with each of their children. Here are three powerful reasons:

1. One-on-one time lets kids know they are very important.

Your kids know your calendar is jammed, and they also know how you choose to spend your free time. If you carve out regular time with them—just the two of you—that makes a big statement, and tells them they are a priority to you.

Do be creative and plan cool outings, but really it almost doesn’t matter what you do; your gift of time makes your child feel valued, needed, secure, even empowered.

2. Kids open up during that time.

Derek is a dad I know who has teenagers, and he confesses things can get a little bit tense from time to time. Usually it’s just minor stuff around the house and personality clashes.

But Derek says it quickly changes when he’s out on one of their runs for ice cream or iced coffee. They get in the car and almost right away his child will start talking about something going on in his life. He knows that it’s dad time, and it’s like he’s been saving up topics or questions. He opens up in unexpected ways.

Dad, don’t miss those priceless opportunities.

3. Things happen when you’re doing something together.

Maybe the car breaks down, or you get pulled over for speeding. Maybe someone you see needs help. Or maybe you see friends and have a short conversation. In all those situations, you are modelling for your child how to respond with maturity and grace. You’re also learning more about your child by watching how he handles situations.

Or maybe you’ll run into someone your child knows while you’re out, and you can ask, “So you know them pretty well?” “Where do you see them at school?” And so on. All kinds of interesting things can happen when you and your child are together somewhere.

Dad, take full advantage of frequent one-on-one adventures. Just go get a frozen yogurt, take a long walk, visit a bookstore, or do any activity your child enjoys. But it’s up to you to make sure it happens. Schedule it; be intentional. Don’t let the busy-ness of life crowd out special time with your son or daughter.

Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering (NCF), as well as a husband, father, and grandfather. He is author of “
Championship Fathering”, co-author of “It’s Great Being a Dad”, and general editor of “The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge”.

 

 

 


And of course we also recommend that you consider experiencing ‘Fathering Adventures‘ … www.fatheringadventures.com.au … with one of your sons, or one of your daughters, in a location near you, or perhaps a location even further afield.

We look forward to serving you and child (and your entire family in doing so) in 2016.

5 Essentials for Raising a Teenage Boy

It is extremely rare that I share something from a guest blogger. I think I’ve only ever done so, on just one other occasion before. But when I read the following article by Mike McCormick, I knew I had to share it with all of the intentional fathers in my spheres of influence. He speaks my language, and the content is good and true… everything I’ve discovered personally as I’ve raised, and continued to raise, my own 4 sons into authentic manhood, and everything I’ve witnessed as I’ve guided fathers and their teenage sons (and daughters too for that matter) throughout our numerous Father-Son and Dad & Daughter Adventure experiences, over the last 7+ years.


 

Coming-of-age stories are some of the oldest and most beloved tales in human history—from ancient mythologies to classical literature to Hollywood blockbusters. Most of them tell of a young man’s journey to manhood and how a guru comes alongside him and shows him a new way. The story pattern is always the same and never grows old: the young man resists his initial training from his master, he struggles to find his inner resolve, and then ventures out to put his new-found strength to the test.

As in these timeless classics, every teenage boy needs to be guided into manhood, and there’s no better person to do this than a father or a male mentor. It needs to be an active and meaningful process because, let’s face it: getting the attention of today’s teenager in this digital age is no easy matter.

Every young man needs an older man to prepare him for and launch him on the journey to manhood. For whatever reason, teenage boys require a catalyst to lead them out of their childhood and into the next stage of maturation. Most cultures across the globe recognize this phenomenon and actively initiate their teenage boys into adulthood.

As a father or male mentor who’s already been on the journey himself, you are the perfect teacher—no matter how imperfect you may feel! If you are the father of a teenage boy, he needs you to step up and step into his life in a whole new way. It doesn’t take gobs of time, just intentionality. And you don’t even have to be a dad to help raise up the next generation of men; mentors, coaches, teachers, grandpas, uncles or brothers are encouraged too.

 

 

 

Here are five essentials to help any man give a teenage boy what he most secretly craves: the roadmap to manhood:

1. Tell him your story.

Don’t tell him any old story. Tell him your story. Every man has a story, and like it or not your story is the biggest influence on the kind of man he will one day become. There’s a good bet he’s picked up some bits and pieces about your life over the years, but he needs to hear your full story. Sit down and tell him who you are as a man and the highs and lows of your life. Tell him the pains, failures and struggles you’ve experienced, as well as your highlights. Tell him your regrets and what you’ve learned from the choices you’ve made because chances are he’s going to follow down a similar path.

It’s most important to share from the heart and be vulnerable. Many dads won’t take this important step with their son because they either don’t want to get knocked off a pedestal or they are too ashamed of their past and want to forget about it. Please know that your story, no matter how imperfect, is essential to your young man’s growth and development.

Sharing your story with your son brings him into your “circle of trust,” which is a euphoric feeling for any young man. It also opens the door for further conversations; he’ll be more likely seek you out for advice in the future. And he will see clearly that adversity is part of life and he shouldn’t be surprised or scared by it. Your story will help equip him to walk confidently into whatever challenges come his way.

2. Give him a roadmap before he starts the journey.


Men are famous for throwing the instruction book to the side, plowing ahead and relying on our own wits to complete a project, or getting hopelessly lost before we ask for directions. Usually when I do this I find myself backtracking to square one just to figure out what went wrong. Similarly, teenage boys do better when they start out with well-defined guidelines for their journey to manhood.

The best gift a dad can ever give his teenage son is the roadmap to manhood before he ever starts his trip. I taught my teenage sons six “guideposts” to communicate what a man says and does in the world: accept responsibility, lead courageously, pretend about nothing, journey with God, protect your heart, and engage in deep and meaningful relationships.

You may have a different concept of manhood and want to communicate something completely different, and that’s ok. Just communicate what matters most to you! In today’s world, being a good role model isn’t enough. Your son’s concept of masculinity is being shaped by the Internet, media and his misinformed friends. Dads can no longer sit idly by and let this happen.

3. Let him know he has what it takes.

Our teenagers live in a mixed-up world that bombards them with non-stop messages that skew their perspective on life. The predominant message in our society is that manhood is all about the accumulation of power, possessions and prestige. No wonder most teenage boys are feeling underequipped and just plain confused.

Don’t believe the tough guy façade. Teenage boys are scared they won’t measure up to the culture’s definition of manhood, and there aren’t many safe places out there to talk about it. Boys at this age are notoriously vicious about putting each other down and exploiting any weakness. Rarely are they ever affirmed for who they are. It’s so important during those teenage years to hear words of affirmation that let them know the journey is worth it and they have all that’s required to figure it out. While they may be a very long way from manhood, hearing positive messages is crucial to a young man’s development and maturation. Here are some examples of affirmations to use with your son:

“You’re going to do great in this world because …”
“You will make an awesome father someday because …”
“You have amazing gifts to share with the world like …”

It’s sure is easy to slip into negativity with your teenager because, quite frankly, he can be maddening at times. But do your best to keep it positive.

4. Make sure to keep it real too.

While teenage boys certainly need important affirmations from older men, be careful not to heap on too much praise just to bolster their self-esteem. Teenage boys have a great “BS” detector and nothing makes a teenage boy cringe faster than false flattery. It’s important that dads “keep it real” with their teenage sons.

They need to know that life is no longer simply cake and ice cream, and that more is required of them. During those teenage years somebody needs to challenge them, call them out, and help them make sense of things when they are prone to take the easy path or make the reckless choice. Remember, men are not just born, they are made. Teenage boys need to bump up into something (or somebody) they can’t control, manipulate or bamboozle. Teenage boys don’t respect anything they get for free, so somebody needs to keep putting price tags on things for them and encouraging them forward.

5. Take him on adventures.

While they often appear lazy and disinterested, teenage boys yearn to be tested and pushed beyond the edge of their limits. Our young men enjoy a false sense of control because most of life can be accessed by the touch of a cell phone, joystick or keystroke. It’s hard to find activities these days that take young men out of their comfort zones and into the wild. Extracurricular activities like sports, robotics, band, theater, or youth groups can all teach valuable life lessons, but at the end of the day, these are all structured activities. While amusement parks, sports games, music concerts, video games, monster truck rallies are all fine father-son activities, at the end of the day they are just entertainment.

Today’s teenage boys need to encounter the wild—where life is unpredictable and anything can happen. Too many of today’s fathers are so wrapped up in our kids’ activities and enjoying our own personal comforts that we’ve forgotten to take our boys on adventures and teach them the lessons that only nature can teach. The opportunities to adventure are all around us: kayaking, mission trips, service projects, camping, fishing, canoeing, surfing, hunting, hiking, etc. Seize them with your son!

 

Mike McCormick is the author of ManQuest: Leading Teenage Boys into Manhood, a guidebook designed for fathers to have intentional conversations and engage in activities that help boys become men. Mike is married with two teenage sons and a daughter and lives in Birmingham, Michigan.

4 Questions Every Father Should Ask Himself

Psychologists tell us that 80% of who we are today, was formed in the first 6 years of our lives. And of course the key characters in that part of the story of our lives, was our fathers and our mothers.

To be the best father we can possibly be… and I truly believe that’s the desire of every father… we must first look back, and examine how it was that we ourselves were fathered, as sons.

Throughout the course of each of our Father-Son Adventure experiences… I ask a series of questions to the fathers, that cause them to reflect on how it was, their relationship with their own fathers affected them.

Here are just four (4) questions that every father should ask himself, to help him be the father that he longs to be:

 

1. Did your father ever take you away on some kind of adventure or trip… just the 2 of you?

I have no memory of my father ever doing something with just me. And that unknowingly affects a child. When a father does make his c
hild a priority, and takes him or her away with him, and they share an experience together… one-on-one… the child comes to know that he or she has been chosen, that he or she is truly loved by his or her father, that he or she is indeed the apple of his or her father’s eye. And that knowing deep within his or her innermost being, does something powerful in the heart of a child. It establishes a true identity, on a strong and solid foundation. I’ve discovered that like me, very few fathers today… far too few… were ever given the opportunity to share such an experience with their Dads. We as fathers ourselves now, need to remedy that, when it comes to our children, and our relationship with each of them.

 

2. Did your father ever tell you all three of the following things…

  1. I love you, including the things he loved most about you.?
  2. I’m proud of you, and why it was he was so proud to have been your Dad.?
  3. I see you, I see what you are good at, and I believe that you have what it takes to be a good man or woman.?

If so… you have heard your father say the things that you needed to hear from him the most. If not… then please know that you are not alone. Unfortunately, that is once again the experience of far too many… including our own fathers, from their fathers. For me, I finally heard the words “I love you.”, just 3 weeks before my father passed away, more than a decade ago now… and those words came, only after I had initiated the exchange, like on many occasions before then, that went unacknowledged.

3. Did you ever receive the “What every boy needs to know about being a man” speech?

I wish my Dad, or some other man for that matter, had taken me aside at an appropriate time in my life, and told me what it meant to be a real man, what a real man does, how a real man treats a woman, children, & others etc… but like so many other men I’ve met, that was not my experience. To be fair… my Dad had never received such a speech himself… and therefore was unable to offer it to me, or my younger brother. How about you? Are you equipped and prepared to offer such a speech to / cast such a vision upon, your son, as he stands on the threshold of manhood? And how about your daughter? Have you been instrumental in ensuring that she knows what it means to be a healthy, secure woman?

4. When did you become a man?

Can you remember a specific moment in your life, when you were told that you were no longer a boy, but a man? I can’t. I was engaged at age 18, married at age 20, and had my first son at age 23… but when I look back over those years, I was still very much a boy, in a man’s body, and in a man’s life. Again, very few men are able to recall such a moment. And once again, as fathers, we need to do this differently. We need to bestow a masculine identity upon our sons, and a feminine identity upon our daughters. We need to usher our sons, and our daughters too, into and through a rite-of-passage type experience… providing a moment, and even better, several moments, that they will never forget.

‘Fathering Adventures’ is an organization that offers Father-Son and Dad & Daughter Adventure Weekend experiences, which equip fathers of children aged 7 to 13 years inclusive, in numerous locations around Australia, to offer exactly what their children really need from them most.

We also offer 4 and 5 Night Father-Son Adventure experience packages, for fathers and their sons (minimum age of 13 years, with no maximum age limit), which provide the all-important process of transitioning boys & girls into young manhood & young womanhood respectively, and young men & young women into authentic manhood & healthy womanhood respectively… ensuring that they respond to my above-mentioned questions, in a very different way to that which you and I have had to respond.

So if you would like to share in an Adventure experience with either your son or daughter, or your very own father for that matter, then we encourage you to explore all of our Father-Son and Dad & Dauhter Adventure experience packages on offer today, online at  www.fatheringadventures.com.au, or by phoning Darren Lewis on 0431 839 035.

Ceremony in the Process of Initiation

In many cultures throughout history, a teenage boy is taken through some type of ritual to mark his official passage into manhood. I believe one of the greatest tragedies of Western culture today is the absence of this type of ceremony.”  Dr Robert Lewis (Author) from his best-selling book, “Raising a Modern Day Knight”

Every knight remembers his dubbing as the first day of his existence.”  Georges Duby (French, influential Medieval Historian, specializing in the social and economic history of the Middle Ages)

Ceremony marks the transition from one season to another. It says powerfully, forcefully, and regally, “From this point forward, life is going to be different!”


The most incredible man I’ve ever met would have to be Dr Robert Lewis.
He is a man who has lived well. He has lived a life of great strength and courage, honour and integrity. He’s been like a father to me… a mentor… and I’m honoured to call him a friend. In Robert’s best-selling book, “Raising a Modern Day Knight”… he lists four common characteristics that every good ceremony possesses. I felt it important to share them here…

1. Memorable ceremonies are costly. The more time, thought, planning, effort, and money you give to a celebration, the more memorable it will be. Memorability  grows in proportion to cost. The more you give, the greater the impact.

2. Memorable ceremonies ascribe value. By setting aside time, making an effort, spending money, and employing meaningful ceremony, we declare the high value of an individual. Effective ceremony says, you are important! And this moment is important!

3. Memorable ceremonies employ symbols.

4. Memorable ceremonies empower a life with vision.

One of my personal favourite moments from each of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures, and our 4 Night Father-Son Adventures, would have to be the Initiation Ceremony on the final evening. The look upon the face of every son who kneels before his father, as he listens intently to what it is his father is calling him out of (boyhood), and up and into (the higher ground of authentic manhood), is simply priceless. Their eyes are always as wide as saucers. It is a moment in that young man’s life’s journey that he will never forget, for as long as he lives. The culmination of a week of adventure & fun, and training & instruction, alongside his Dad or significant male other, within a community of men… sealed by a ceremony. Now that’s a real process of initiation in action.

You can find a list of dates for all of our upcoming 4 and 5 Night Father-Son Adventures, and all of our Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventure Weekends here.


Read more testimonials from fathers & sons
, and see more photos, from one of our previous 5 Night Father-Son Adventures here.

Watch our short video in the form of a movie trailer here.

For those of us who are married… we’ve experienced first-hand the power and weightiness of ceremony and celebration. But how many of you have experienced such a ceremony and celebration when it came to your journey to become a man? We’d love to hear from you.

“Testing & Challenging in the Outdoors” in the Process of Initiation

There are some things that words cannot teach. Reading something is not the same as living it, or learning it. By reading something in a book, you may be fooled into thinking ‘I know that’. And so fail to take the journey or have the experiences that actually get you there. … For thousands of years, these secrets had to be earned, by passing through physical ordeals, fasting, vigils, or deeds of courage.  Steve Biddulph (Australian Psychologist & Author) from his most recent book, “The New Manhood”

It’s one thing to be told you have what it takes. It’s another thing altogether to discover that you do, through some trial brought up in an adventure. … It reveals to you what you are made of and writes the lesson on your heart. For masculine initiation is not a spectator sport. It is something that must be entered into.”  John Eldredge (Author) from his book “The Way of the Wild Heart”

My last blog entry emphasized the importance of “Training and Instruction in the Process of Initiation.” It’s true… it’s essential… but just as importantly, a boy, a young man, and even a mature-age man, also needs to be tested and challenged in the outdoors… in adventure.

The late French Author and Nobel Prize winner, Andre Gide, expressed this truth…It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.” How many men today truly know themselves… truly know deep within their innermost beings that they are in fact real men… that they have what it takes to come through in any given situation that requires them to, e.g. fighting for the hearts of their wives and or children, or fighting for a cause greater than themselves? Too few in my experience. Why? Because too few today risk being tested and challenged. Too few have experienced a genuine process of initiation.

I love the words of Steve Biddulph I quoted earlier…There are some things that words cannot teach. Reading something is not the same as living it, or learning it. By reading something in a book, you may be fooled into thinking ‘I know that’. And so fail to take the journey or have the experiences that actually get you there.“ How true is that of most people today. We read books, we watch instruction videos, we attend conferences and seminars, and whilst many of those things may be helpful, they can only assist us in taking part of the journey.


An ancient Chinese proverb reveals the same truth…
“I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.” We need to understand this. We need to experience things that take us out of our comfort zones… to be in situations that we cannot control, allowing ourselves to be unsettled… so that our deepest fears are revealed, faced, and overcome. We as men need to be initiated as men. Our families and our world need us to be initiated as men… to engage in the process of initiation, which should always include testing and challenging, the outdoors, and adventure.

I invite you to share some of the lessons you’ve learnt through adventure, and in the outdoors, here. And what are some of the ways that you’ve been tested and challenged in the past?

“Training & Instruction” in the Process of Initiation

“The thing we have lost, the ingredient we men ourselves seem to lack, is the inner secrets, the teachings for becoming a strong and solid man.”  Steve Biddulph (Australian psychologist and author) from his most recent book, “The New Manhood”

“Traditionally, 2 things were done to help young men into adulthood. First, they were ‘taken on’ and mentored into adulthood by one or more men who cared about them and taught them important skills for living. And second, at certain stages of this mentoring process, the young men were taken away by the community of older men and “initiated”. This meant being put through some serious growing up processes, including testing, sacred teaching, & new responsibilities.”  Steve Biddulph (Australian psychologist & author) from his book “Raising Boys”

What does it mean to be a real man? It’s a great question! And it’s a question that I myself never had an answer to… until I was 29 years of age… after being married for more than eight years, and having fathered 3 sons at the time. I, like many men, never had a father who prepared me, taught me, instructed me, or trained me in the ways of authentic manhood. In fairness, my Dad, like most other Dads, never had a father himself who provided such things to him, and no man can give what he does not have.

There’s a scene in the movie “Secondhand Lions” where a gang of youths (unfathered and uninitiated young men) encounter a real man… the character of Hub McCann, played by Robert Duvall. I don’t want to give anything away in regards to such a powerful scene, but a few scenes later, Hubb McCann, having earned the right to speak into the lives of those young men, engages them in what seems to be quite a passionate monologue… though the viewer doesn’t get to hear what he’s saying. Looking on from a distance is Hub’s younger brother Garth, played by Michael Caine, and their 14 year old great nephew Walter, played by Haley Joel Osment. Here’s the dialogue that goes on between Walter and Garth…

Walter – “What’s he saying to them?

Garth – “He’s giving them his ‘What every boy needs to know about being a man’ speech. A lot of men have heard that speech over the years. A lot of men.

Oh how I wish that were true. That a lot of men would have heard the ‘What every boy needs to know about being a man’ speech. The truth is… very few have heard such a speech. Very few know what it means to be a real man. Very few know what a real man does. Very few know how a real man treats others. Very few know what a real man devotes his time to… what a real man is prepared to live for, andwhat a real man is prepared to die for. Very few.

The good news is that change is afoot. Part of what fathers and their sons (ages 13 and above) receive during our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures and 4 Night Father-Son Adventures, is just that… training, instruction, imparting, equipping, and empowering. No-one leaves our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures or our 4 Night Father-Son Adventures, without an answer to the question, “What does it mean to be a real man?”. Fathers and sons alike are initiated over the 4 or 5 Nights / 5 or 6 Days, and things for them and their relationships are for the most-part, never the same again.

Our 4 and 5 Night Father-Son Adventures can tend to fill quickly, so please register now to avoid disappointment.
If you’d like to see more photos and read more testimonials from the sons and fathers at our most recent 5 Night Father-Son Adventures, click here.

I hope to see you and your son there.

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?

Isaac’s Invitation into a Community of Men Weekend

It was early Saturday morning December 11, 2010, and I had organised 5 other men to join me… to call my second son Isaac (14 years of age) out of the world of boys & women, and call him into a community of men, as I had done for his older brother 3 years earlier. This was to be just one of the numerous moments Isaac will experience during his 2-year long vision quest, which commenced on his 13th birthday, and will conclude on his 15th birthday with a final ceremony and celebration. It’s his rite-of-passage… the years set apart for him to transition out of the stage of boyhood, and initiated into young manhood.

I had planned a weekend away for us all… a weekend of adventure (abseiling… rappelling for those of my American friends reading… and fishing)… a weekend of masculinity bestowing masculinity… a weekend where my son would experience first-hand how real men have fun together… preparing him if you will… to easily identify any counterfeit adventure he might come across in the future, like teenage boys consuming alcohol, and experimenting with drug use.

And so the weekend officially began… all of us men calling out Isaac’s name from our front yard, whilst Isaac sat inside talking with his Mother. That conversation had also been planned by me. Did I mention that Isaac had no idea about any of this? Isaac and my wife Melissa… Isaac’s mother… came to the front door to find us men there waiting for them both. I stepped forward… about half way between the other men and Melissa & Isaac.

I reminded Melissa how nearly 14 years earlier, there was a postpartum… a separation that occurred at Isaac’s birth… a cutting of the cord, and how now was the time for a second postpartum to occur… Isaac leaving behind the stage of boyhood, to join a community of men. In the presence of Isaac and the other men (and a couple of younger brothers by this point in time… not to mention a number of onlooking neighbours), I honoured Melissa for her role as my wife and the mother of our children. And then I asked her to release Isaac into the care of this community of men I had assembled… all of who had played an important role in Isaac’s life previously. She released him with her blessing… and of course some tears.

And then it was Isaac’s turn. It was time for him to respond to our invitation of him joining this community of men. What would it cost him? Leaving boyhood behind! The process was a moving experience for Isaac too. He wiped away his tears, hugged his mother, and advanced toward me, and then I lead him toward the other men, where each one of us blessed & affirmed him… speaking deeply into his life. And then we all jumped into our car… a beaten up old Tarago, and we embarked upon the 4 hour drive North.

When we arrived, we had some lunch and suited up our harnesses for our abseiling adventure. And then down came the rain. It poured down without ceasing, flooded the area, and then after an hour, the abseiling was postponed until the following morning.

Overnight the heavy rain had reduced to just light showers. We all ate a hearty breakfast, and then the sky cleared. We suited up again, and this time, we were off. Isaac was nervous. Saying that he’s not fond of heights is an understatement. But he wanted to go over the edge and down the cliff nonetheless. And so he began. He pushed through his fears, and went over the edge… maybe 1 to 2 metres down the vertical rock-face, before telling our guides he wanted to climb back up to the top, and not continue downward.

Even though he had navigated through the scariest part of an abseiling experience (going over the edge), I knew as his father, I was needed at that moment, to speak against all of the waves of accusation that would come against him. And that’s exactly what was going on within him. He was ashamed that he had not completed the adventure. He wept openly, and referred to himself as a failure. That’s when I spoke truth into him… that he was not a failure… that despite his fear of heights, he went over the edge.

After I had helped him to calm down, I asked him if he’d like me to buy him a Coke. He said that he didn’t deserve it, and so in I went again… to play my part as his Dad… to rescue him, to guard his heart, to speak against the lies with truth. It was beautiful. What if I had not been there to interpret what he thought was failing? How many of us have had such an experience, and not had anyone there to interpret the moment?

Afterwards, I asked all of the men to gather around a table where I shared what had been going on inside of Isaac. I told them what I had said to him, and invited each of them to also share what they saw in Isaac. The words of encouragement flowed, and Isaac began to believe. His countenance shifted, and from then on, he held his head high.

If you have a son aged 13 and up… there’s no maximum age limit, and it’s never too late… then bring him along to a 5 Night Father-Son Adventure with us and other father-son pairs from around the world. Register your interest here.

I also encourage you to share a story of yours here… of a time when you began to believe a negative message about yourself. Did you have a Dad, a significant male other, or even better still, a community of men to help interpret the moment for you… to fight for your heart?

P.S. I believe there is great value in providing a Mother’s perspective on the concept of masculine initiation, and so, I invited my wife Melissa to share some of her own reflections from this specific weekend…

“What a significant moment….I came inside after releasing Isaac and couldn’t just go back to what I was doing before. Something BIG had just taken place in both our lives. Excitement for Isaac and pride in Darren were just 2 of the many emotions swirling in my heart. It is hard to let go as a mum. It is not without a desperate desire to hold on…..to say “not yet”. But to see Isaac’s response to his dad and the other men calling him out was most overwhelming. It was a defining point in time, when he needed me to release him to go forth and become all that he should be. It was beyond words. While hugging him goodbye I whispered to him “You are going to be an incredible man Isaac”. He has just started this journey into young manhood and it is wonderful to know that he is not doing it on his own.”

I’ll provide more for Mothers of sons… specifically those with sons who are being / have been initiated… next time… including some more reflections from Melissa on the process, and perhaps even more importantly… the fruit of it. Next time!

The Importance of the Outdoors in Raising Children

One morning I posed a very simple question to my sons that resulted in some very interesting responses and lengthy conversation.

“What are your all-time favourite experiences / memories?”

Immediately their answers began to flow like a river in flood. Visits to theme parks, the beach, camping, and the first time ever riding a motor-bike. One’s memories would spark another’s. One common theme was that all of their favourite experiences involved the outdoors.

Another common theme was that I had been present. Perhaps if I hadn’t, my kids’ favourite memories may have been very different.

Introducing your son into the great outdoors is an essential part of his development, and you don’t have to be a hunter or extreme adventurer to lead him there. Simply provide him with terrain to explore, rivers to fish, and adventures to live and enjoy e.g. rafting and swimming. The outdoors will provide countless opportunities of calling forth daring and courage, and will undoubtedly provide the testing and challenging necessary to initiate him along his masculine journey.

When my eldest son Brandon turned 13, I invited him into a vision quest… a rite-of-passage… a journey of sorts with me by his side, together navigating through the obstacles a boy encounters as he makes his transition into young manhood.

One of our first experiences together was dubbed his “beloved son” weekend. I wanted him to know that I delighted in him and absolutely loved being with him.

The destination I decided upon was Jourama Falls… a series of waterfalls that cascade down the side of a mountain here in North Queensland. We would swim in a waterhole and check it’s depth before climbing up to the next waterhole above. We repeated this about four or five times before beginning our descent… leaping off the top of each waterfall into the waterhole below.

I knew we would have fun, but what I hadn’t counted on, perhaps naively, was that fear would present itself.

What an unexpected opportunity for Dad to dig deep into the soul of his son… to question his thought processes, and to guide and coach him. To play my part in helping him to examine and overcome his fears was priceless, and a memory that both he and I will treasure for a lifetime.

Another weekend that formed part of Brandon’s vision quest was dubbed his “community of men” weekend.

Four of my good friends and I invited Brandon into our community of men for the weekend, where we demonstrated how real men have fun. We went white-water rafting and we hiked to the summit of a mountain. Of course the white-water rafting was a blast, but my biggest shock came during the hike.

My son was a very capable long-distance runner, so I thought the hike for him would be just a stroll in the park. About one-third of our way in, Brandon stopped and stated that he was unable to continue. We were all able to speak into his life at that moment, reminding him that we all believed in his ability to push on and reach the summit, and that we would help him get there.

He pressed on and was the second of our party to reach the summit. We asked him if it had been worth it, and as he surveyed the 360 degree unobstructed views below him, he responded with a resounding “Yes”.

I warned him that there would be times in the future… at school and during marriage etc., when he would feel like quitting. I instructed him to remember this moment on the mountaintop… to remember the taste of accomplishing something he didn’t think he could.

I remain committed to my role as father of my four sons, committed to pursuing a deeper relationship with each of them, committed to providing them with a wide variety of outdoor experiences, committed to modelling authentic masculinity to them, and committed to one day leaving a legacy of four great, society-contributing men who will live on to offer even more to their families.

Be sure too to ask your children what their all-time favourite experiences / memories are. It will provide you with the clues you need to truly know your child’s heart.

For Dads who are also committed to their sons, please explore the ‘Fathering Adventures’ website at www.fatheringadventures.com.au.

Yours for getting our kids outdoors.

PS. Do you have any personal stories you would like to share? We would love to hear them. Please post in the comment section below.