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.

Something Every Parent Needs to Know

A person’s life is made up of a series of stages or seasons. Between each stage or season of a person’s life, there is a period of transition, and those periods of transition are typically always the time when a person experiences his or her most difficult times.

Typically the most difficult period of transition in a person’s life, is the transition between childhood and adulthood, known as adolescence. Everything changes. And whilst change is good and healthy, change is typically always difficult. And during adolescence, when a boy and a girl are attempting to discover their respective masculine and feminine identities… those difficulties are often exacerbated by the isolation that is typically experienced during those years.

Sociologists have actually performed numerous extensive studies, and reported on those studies, which reveal my earlier claim of adolescence being the most difficult time in a person’s life, to be true. Below is a Personal Wellbeing Index Diagram, prepared by Dr Adrian Tomyn from the School of Health Sciences, at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, which graphically illustrates the correlation between a person’s satisfaction with life, and a person’s age. I hope you find it as shocking and disturbing as I do.

As a parent, there is no greater time to richly invest into the life of your son or daughter, than between the ages of 13 and 18 years. Doing so, will undoubtedly change the trajectory of their lives, for good. That said, your relationship with your child prior to them entering their teenage years, is foundational to the years that follow.

If you are a parent of a teenage son or daughter, then we urge you to consider registering for one of the following Father-Son or Dad & Daughter Adventure experiences in either 2015 or 2016, now…

1. A 4 Night Father-Son Adventure in the Brindabella Ranges of NSW, North of Canberra, here.
2. A 5 Night Father-Son Adventure in Tropical North Queensland, here.
3. A 4 Night Dad & Daughter Adventure in Tropical North Queensland, here.

The Fatherhood Revolution Goes National

Great news! The Fatherhood Revolution continues, and it’s going National.

Award-winning fim-maker, Justin Hunt, has finally arrived in Australia.Tomorrow (Thursday June 13) signals the commencement of the June 13-29 Australia-wide ‘Bring Back Fatherhood’ ABSENT Premiere Screening Tour. The demand for screenings around the Nation, has exploded. Official Tour Premiere Screenings, where Justin Hunt will be in attendance… include Sydney (multiple screenings), Gosford, Nowra, Brisbane (a couple of screenings), Toowoomba, Townsville, Cairns, Wollongong, Melbourne (a couple of screenings), Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, & Perth (a couple of screenings).

The multi-award-winning documentary ABSENT, includes powerful interviews with John Eldredge (Author), Richard Rohr (Author), James Hetfield (Metallica), Johnny Tapia (former World Champion boxer), Robyn Decker (Model), and many others.


The 60 second teaser video for the ‘Bring Back Fatherhood’ tour, can be seen here…


And Fathering Adventures’ NEW 90 second promo video will be shown as a trailer, prior to each screening of ABSENT, during the tour. You can see that here right now…

Screening details can be found at the new ABSENT Australia website
, here. Please do forward the link to this Blog article to all of the Fathers and Mothers you know. And if you’re a Facebook user… please “Like” the ABSENT Australia Facebook page, and “Share” the details with your friends on your wall.

Thank you for playing your essential part, in this ever-increasingly significant movement. By raising awareness of the importance of a father’s presence, involvement, engagement, & intentionality… we will strengthen families, and strengthen our society.

A Community of Men in a Rite of Passage

For 95 percent of human history, boys weren’t launched out into adulthood, they were welcomed into it, into a lifelong support network that would work to ensure their contribution would be a good one.
– Steve Biddulph (Australian Psychologist & Author)

A boy becomes a man only through the active intervention of his father and the fellowship of men.” – John Eldredge (Author)

John Eldredge in his book “The Way of the Wild Heart”, goes on to say… “Far too much has fallen on the shoulders of the Father alone. It takes a company of men to bring a boy into the masculine world, and to bring young men along in their maturity.”

I’ve felt the weight of that burden myself over the years.
Because too few men today experience real community with other men. Most men have male acquaintances… guys they work alongside of… guys they share a drink with socially… but very few actually ever experience real friendships with other men, who share a common purpose, larger than themselves, like initiating this generation of boys into authentic manhood.

But I have been extremely proactive over the last decade to ensure my sons would be able to have other good, masculine influences to draw upon, and be mentored by… men who have skills, gifts, talents, and abilities that I myself lack. But none of that has come easy.
I have had to actively seek out other men, offer them a vision worth pursuing, inspire them, lead them, serve them, and in some cases, actually mentor and father them.

Together as a band-of-brothers, we have experienced adventures… with, and without our sons present.
We have invited them and involved them, in our missions to various communities where we’ve helped men to establish bands of brothers themselves.
And we have affirmed, validated, and played a part in initiating one another’s sons.
All of my sons know… what too few sons do these days… that they have men, other than Dad, who love them, who have invested into them, and who are there for them… no matter what!

So Dad, if you want your boy to one day be a real man
, then you too must be intentional in enlisting other men, and establishing a community of men of your own.
You’ll have to fight to find them, and you’ll have to fight to keep them, but it is worth it!

One of the things that I love about our “Rite of Passage” Son and Father Adventure experiences, is that a community of men are brought together from all over Australia, and the world at times, for a single purpose, to ensure the success of a great mission… to initiate our sons.
You can register for our one of those here, today.

So how about you?
Were you as a boy ever invited into a community of men by your father or another man?
And what about now?
Have you made it a priority to be a part of a community of men… to find, or establish one yourself, for yourself, and for you to invite and welcome your sons into when they enter their teenage years?

A Dad’s Role in a Rite of Passage

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

The glory of sons are their fathers.” – King Solomon

Hollywood Actor, the 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 needed 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 a father figure (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.
‘Fathering Adventures’ experientially equips and empowers Dads to do this, and to do it well.
It is for that reason we designed and deliver our “Rite of Passage” Son and Father Adventure experiences.
You can register for one of those here today.

So how about you?
Did you have a “father” who knew what you needed and provided it for you?

If so, then please take the time to honour him, and his efforts, here.
If you didn’t, then you’re not alone.
Would you have liked to have had a “father” who did?
Do you intend to do things differently?

Inside one of our “Prepared for Manhood” Father-Son Adventure experiences

One week ago today marked the close of yet another successful, and more importantly, significant “Prepared for Manhood” Father-Son Adventure experiences. Because we do so many Adventure Weekend experiences (for boys & girls aged between 7 & 13 years), and because those experiences are always so much more powerful than one ever expects, I myself can tend to forget just how incredibly life-changing and life-giving our “Prepared for Manhood” Father-Son Adventure experiences actually are.

We had a full contingent of twelve (12) Father-Son pairs join us for their adventure of a lifetime, and once again, they came from all over Australia, and the world. Two (2) father-son pairs flew Down Under from Washington State in the U.S.A. (Seattle and Spokane), five (5) father-son pairs flew North from Victoria (2 pairs from Melbourne, one pair from Ballarat, & 2 more pairs from Wodonga), two (2) pairs flew North from New South Wales (one pair from Sydney, and the other pair from Wollongong), and finally three (3) pairs joined us from Queensland (2 pairs flew North from Brisbane, and just one pair were Townsville locals).

In total, five (5) of those twelve (12) fathers had experienced one of our adventures prior to this one.
Two (2) of the Dads had brought their eldest sons to a previous “Prepared for Manhood” Father-Son Adventure experience, and three (3) of them had brought their youngest sons to a previous “Fathering Boys” Father-Son Adventure Weekend experience. So that was a real compliment in itself… it’s not just us as ‘Fathering Adventures’ who believe that we’re doing something incredible… helping to strengthen lives, relationships, and families… the very fabric of our society.

Our “Prepared for Manhood” Father-Son Adventure experiences have been designed to fulfill a 2-fold purpose:

  1. To deepen and strengthen the relationship and bond between a Dad and his son, which is foundational for everything else, and
  2. To provide an environment where a father can successfully guide his son out of boyhood (no matter how old the son may be), and into young manhood, or authentic manhood… a rite-of-passage experience if you will.

So what are some of the things that we do
to achieve a richer relationship between a father and son?
Firstly we ensure that
these experiences are
FUN, enjoyable and exciting, set in the midst of great beauty… reefs, rainforests, mountains, rivers, islands, and beaches. I mean let’s be completely honest Dads. How much fun are we to be around for the most-part? When was the last time you had fun with your son? When was the last time you had fun yourself? Secondly, you intentionally have TIME together… sharing experiences together… just the two of you. No distractions, and no greater priority… at least whilst you’re with us. And finally, there are intimate moments shared together… times where each Dad really affirms his son (after being coached first of course), and then an intentional discussion over lunch on the day of the hike.

And what do we do to assist the Dads in guiding their sons out of boyhood, and into young manhood, or authentic manhood, depending on their age? Firstly, we provide a community of men… made up of every father and son present. Secondly, most of what we do is done in the outdoors. As much fun as each of our outdoor adventures are, the majority of them also provide a degree of testing and challenging… necessary for a boy to have his core question “Do I have what it takes?”, answered well, and done so once again, within a community of men. Thirdly, we provide training & instruction… multimedia presentations each evening that speak into the relationship and roles of fathers & sons, and the difference between conventional manhood (still a form of boyhood really) and authentic manhood etc. And finally, the week culminates in a form of ceremony… where each Dad is given the opportunity (once again after receiving some coaching beforehand) to officially call his son up and into either young manhood or authentic manhood (depending on the age of the son of course)… thereby initiating him… providing a moment in time that his son can point to, as being the moment he left boyhood behind.

Anyhow, enough about what we do and why we do it…
let’s now hear from a number of the fathers and sons, and what they had to say about their recent “Prepared for Manhood” Father-Son Adventure experience experience… followed by some links to more photographs.

Feedback from the Sons

This experience has meant a lot to me. It has been a wonderful time with my Dad. My favourite memories were talking to my Dad on the hike, and the initiation ceremony.”  (Mitchell – Age 16 – Melbourne, VIC)

This experience has meant a lot more to me than I thought it would. I got to know my Dad more. I learnt a lot about myself, the good qualities I already have, and the qualities I need to improve on to become a better man. I loved scuba diving on the reef, and I loved meeting new people who I’ll never forget. I learnt many, many, many things this week, but if I were to summarize, I now know what a real man is, and I now know how to overcome youth and its challenges .”  (Shaun – Age 15 – Townsville, QLD)

This week was an opportunity to connect more with my father, thus resulting in a greater love and understanding of one another . White-Water Rafting was my favourite adventure activity, especially the way that our crew had to work together as a team.”  (William – Age 15 – Ballarat, VIC)

This experience has meant a tonne to me. I found out things about myself I never knew, and I found a strong foundation for my relationship with my Dad. I have grown as much as a young man could grow in just 5 nights / 6 days. The best part about this week for me was all of the time I had with my Dad, the time with friends, and the white-water rafting.”  (Ben – Age 14 – Melbourne, VIC)

This week had a lot of activities which I greatly enjoyed, and it was a chance to hang with my Dad for a while. I loved scuba diving and white-water rafting.”  (Nate – Age 14 – Seattle, WA, U.S.A.)

This week has meant so much. I have formed a stronger relationship with my father. My favourite part of this week was spending time with my father. To bond with him and to hear him say that he is proud of me meant so much. I have also become more confident in myself. I have also come closer to God due to Ben from Melbourne, one of the sons on this camp. He helped me to realise that I don’t need material possessions to be “happy”. I need God. He is proud of his faith and talked to me about how he does not care what he looks like, or what others think of him. He inspired me to form a stronger relationship with God. I learnt this week that I need to believe in myself, and venture outside my comfort zone. Thank you for an amazing week.”  (Jake – Age 13 – Wodonga, VIC)

Feedback from the Dads

This experience has actually revealed to me just how much I really love my son. Without question, my favourite memory was when I affirmed my son in front of all of the other fathers.”  (Mark V. – Age 55 – Brisbane, QLD)

This week has been a great opportunity to spend time with my son… to see more of his spirit, and to learn more about myself. I loved the white-water rafting, the mountain talk, and the initiation ceremony. I’ve come to realise that I need to step up, speak up, and be more intentional.”  (Mark M. – Age 52 – Brisbane, QLD)

This week has given me the opportunity to better connect with my son, and to learn more about being an authentic man. It was also a great adventure and a holiday. I loved having the opportunity to affirm my son. I enjoyed every aspect of this experience… the people, the activities, and the learning. I have learnt to be a better man / father, and the importance of spending more and more quality time with my son.”  (Barry – Age 51 – Sydney, N.S.W.)

This experience has impressed on me the value of being a father and the need to lead and guide my son into how to be an authentic man. This has helped my son and I communicate more closely that we have ever done so before.”  (Greg – Age 51 – Ballarat, VIC)

This has been a great time. Tiring, but fun and stimulating. It’s been so much more than just a vacation, and it’s been a good introduction to manhood for my son. I loved the white-water rafting, and seeing my son so happy after his first scuba dive.”  (Martin – Age 51 – Seattle, WA, U.S.A.)

This has been a special time in my life to create a memorable experience with my son – beyond just the fun, but also to deal with some meaningful issues, such as calling my son to his future.”  (Robert – Age 46 – Wodonga, VIC)

This experience has met and exceeded my hopes yet again. It has provided a space to enable me to reveal more of me to him, and to discover more of him. It has allowed me to direct him, encourage him, affirm him, and see him emerge as more of the man he was meant to be. I loved seeing the tears in my son’s eyes when I affirmed him, and the amazing letter he wrote to me. It has deepened our bond as father & son.”  (Peter – Age 45 – Melbourne, VIC)

This week has helped me to connect with my son and to show him the way to young manhood in a way that I couldn’t have done otherwise. The initiation ceremony will remain in my memory forever.”  (Shane – Age 43 – Wodonga, VIC)

This week has been a wonderful time with my eldest son, great adventure, time with great men, excellent instruction on manhood, and in particular an outstanding opportunity to affirm my son in such a significant way and call him forward into manhood. I learnt more about manhood and fatherhood, and I got to know my son even better, even though I had already been quite intentional and shared a great relationship with him.”  (Clive – Age 43 – Melbourne, VIC)

This experience has been a time to invest in my son and the next generation. It’s been an opportunity to have fun time with him and deepen our relationship and friendship.”  (Kobus – Age 39 – Townsville, QLD)

See our photo albums containing many more pictures of the week’s adventures:

1. Tully River White-Water Rafting photos

2. Snorkeling out on the Great Barrier Reef

3. Sea Kayaking between South Mission Beach & Dunk Island

4. Hiking to the summit of Bicton Hill

5. Where we called home during this recent “Prepared for Manhood” Father-Son Adventure experience

A Mother’s Role in the Masculine Initiation of her Son

Dear precious Mother,

Firstly I would like to encourage you, to encourage & support your son and his father, uncle, grandfather, mentor, or significant male other, to participate in one of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures. I acknowledge that it would be a sacrifice for you… especially in regards to time and finances… although I firmly believe that you will all be richly rewarded for those sacrifices… as has been the case in the lives and families of so many already.

I imagine that in so many ways, it seems like just yesterday that your now teenage son was born. The birthing process was not complete until the umbilical cord between he and the placenta which your body grew to sustain & nourish him during pregnancy, was severed. The cord was cut, and it was then that I imagine you held your baby boy in your arms, and nothing else that was happening in the world seemed to matter.

It’s highly likely that you experienced some kind of postpartum blues in the days after his birth… the majority of Mothers do. It’s a completely normal reaction to the separation of your baby from your womb… no longer one being, but two.

Well heads up Mum, you’re about to experience the second, and just as necessary postpartum experience. Your boy is well on his way to becoming a man, and on the final evening of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventure, your son’s father, or significant male other will call him out of boyhood, and into either young manhood, or authentic manhood, depending upon his age. Your relationship will never, and should never be the same again. And just like the first postpartum at birth, you may also experience emotion that you are unable to explain. That’s completely normal. Try and relax, and give yourself a break. It’s perfectly OK to grieve what’s been lost, but it’s also time to celebrate what has begun.

This season of your son’s life is where his Dad’s influence, or the influence of a significant male other in your son’s life must increase, because masculinity is bestowed by masculinity. Femininity can never bestow masculinity. For this reason, a son will instinctively begin to pull away from you during these years, hence this letter giving you the heads up in regards to what’s coming, as an attempt to prepare you for these times. Without question, your son will still turn to you for comfort, but if Dad is involved, he will turn to him, and so well he should, for adventure, for the opportunity to test his strength, and most of all, to receive the answer to his question… Do I have what it takes?

Very few Mothers handle this transition well, but it’s important that you do, otherwise things can & often do go bad. It’s a time where boundaries need to be established, and the change in your relationship must be redefined, for the sake of you both.

So, once again I encourage you to encourage & support your son and his father or significant male other to participate in one of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures. And then plan a celebration dinner upon his return home. If you have the time to do so, you might like to prepare a montage of photographs from your son’s life, but most importantly, this is the time for you to speak beautiful and affirming words to your son… preferably in public, and especially in front of the rest of your family. This is a milestone in your son’s life, and a milestone in the life of your family. You can do this! You can once again be the life-giver your son needs you to be! I trust you will shine.

To help give you a balanced perspective of what to expect, and what I have attempted to convey above, I have asked my beautiful wife Melissa to offer you some timely words of encouragement… from one Mother to another. Here’s what she has to say… A Letter to Mums – from a Mum – on the matter of Masculine Initiation.

Please don’t be afraid to ask questions here of either myself, or Melissa.

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.