I play basketball at our church every week. Last week after basketball a group of friends and I were lingering in the parking lot, as we usually do, discussing a controversial political topic. An acquaintance that I don’t particularly like overheard our conversation and interjected his opinions. A debate ensued and I continually got frustrated because this guy didn’t use facts or logic to argue. At one point I inappropriately pointed out that he argues like a girl. I embarrassed him in front of the group. Later, on the following Sunday he came up to me and asked if we could talk. Apparently my rude behavior hit a sensitive spot because he was having trouble in his marriage and his wife had recently accused him of ‘not being a man’. Then he actually asked me for advice. I am terrible at giving advice. I don’t follow my own advice sometimes. But he asked me if I could help him learn how act like a man. He’s a young kid, only 23 years old and I feel obligated to help him. Of course I naturally thought of Art of Manliness. The first thing I told him to do was to seek professional marriage counseling, to subscribe to the AoM newsletter, download the gentleman e-book, to read the AoM website, and I suggested a few good books. I convinced him to come to my gym and take up boxing in hopes that he'll be influenced by some of the younger guys I train with. I’ve invited him to a few activities with my friends, I've convinced them to make it a group effort. Does anyone have any tips on being a mentor?
I think what you're doing is just fine. It seems like what this young man needs is to just be around men. Men learn how to be men from other men. Just keep doing those group activities, but also make time for when you all can just talk about the male experience. Share your struggles and show what you've done to get through them. Men need a trusting place where they can go and take their masks off.
It took a tremendous amount of courage for this young man to approach you and be this open with you. The fact that a 23-year old would ask you to help him learn how to act like a man is about the highest compliment he could give you. I hope you apologized for embarrassing him--you need to. But at the same time, you need to explain what seemed femmy to you about the way he was arguing.
Find out a little more about his past--was he raised by a single mother? Did he have a rejecting father (or father-figure)? It's possible that he never identified with men as "one of the guys". If he has some particularly obnoxious traits that keep him from getting along with other men, help him with those things (after all, he asked).
In addition to the other things you're doing, get him involved in some typical guy-things (hunting, fishing, golf, boating, working on cars, building, pick-up games of various sports, etc.). If you can just spend time with him, be his friend, and involve him in your activities, nature will probably take it's course. Tell him to get a copy of Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Venus and read it---then talk to him about it. He's probably going to find out that he has a lot more masculine traits than he thinks.
Robert, you said or did something that made the young man feel comfortable enough to approach you like that, so you are part of the way there already. I hope you will indeed continue to be able to help him. Just so you know, I started a group here called: "Manly Mentors" You might want to pose this question over there as well. Just a thought. Good luck.
You've done well. It was only 7-8 years ago that I realized I had not had any really positive male influences in my life (father doesn't count...he and I butted heads too often growing up), and I know how stressful that can be. My mother, I swear...sometimes I think she WANTED me to be gay. Would have been her revenge on all the men that hurt her, or something.
From what I can tell, the steps you've taken are well and good. You may want to discuss Dominant/Submissive psychology with him somewhat, or find someone who can. Perhaps when she says he's not being a man, it has something to do with this. I'll never forget the first time I laid the law down on my ex, I was in early 20's and doing some landscaping at the apartment complex my father lived. I asked her to do something, and she said she wanted to do something ELSE....got kind of snippy. I told her that this was MY job, and if she wanted to help, she would damned well do what I asked her to. So, she got in the truck and drove off...
Then half an hour later, she comes back, and sits at the truck for awhile. I said hell with her, and worked another 45 mins or so, and then walked down to my Dad's. She walked inside with me, as if nothing had happened, we said our goodbyes, and left.
That night? *chuckling* Well, I only wish I'd understood the psychology BETTER, at the time. That night was...interesting.
Good luck with this young man. Keep us all up-to-date, and let us know how things are going.
He came to you because you were insightful enough to hit that sensitive spot, and because you told it like you saw it. You might not always have that same level of insight, but he needs to know he can rely on you to be be straight with him.
As Mungo has said be honest and the more honest and open you are about what you wrestle with will open the door for him to walk through it. If your observations are accurate, he needs men to confirm manhood into his life. Time will also be a real gift to him. I mentor young college me and men in their 20's and almost all of them feel lost when it comes to being a man. I would also encourage you to read Gordon Dalbey- Sons of the Father & Healing The Masculine Soul. I know one thing, that this man believes lies about himself and he won't be able to heal himself. Bless you.
I'm about this guys age and last year I had a serrious relationship fall apart, when I spoke to an older freind and member of my cycling club, it was because I respected him greatly and thought that he had done well for him self as a person (nice guy, job he loved, interesting experiences, ect). I was looking for reassurance that everything would be ok, that every one goes through bad times and that most people come out of them ok. The relationship fell apart but my friendship with this guy will last forever.
I don't know your new friends situation but I was looking for a light at the end of hard times. This guy respects you because of who you are: active in your church and community, a family man (I'm guessing), well respected, and seemingly happy. He wants those things later in life, so share any wisdom you have from your experience gaining them. don't be patronizing but let him know that life is not all roses all the time.
Also keeping him around guys, doing phyiscal activities and socializing afterward. I know the track meets and long rides with my club and the casual beers afterward helped me through the break up as much as chatting about life with my mentor/ freind
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