Lots of men nowadays face it--broken homes, fatherlessness, or disconnected dads all take a toll. Some guys over-identified with their mothers because manly male role-models just weren't there. It really doesn't matter what happened, we're adults now, and we recognize the need to identify with our own gender in greater ways and develop a more masculine presence and a more manly self-image.

Let's talk about where to start. Let's talk about every facet of this. Let's lay the shame and self-doubt aside and make some changes we can feel good about.

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My strong opinion, based on my experience, is that there is no substitute for initiation: an ordeal you agree to go thru, provided by men, and when you're through it, you get recognized as a man by other men.

Mine was through ManKind Project. I'm a little unhappy with the way politics (left-right politics) is creeping into this organization, but the initiation is still a great gift, not much changed from what I went through. Christian men might want to do New Adam, or I think John Eldredge has a weekend.

After that, I was a man, although early on a wounded one. Now much less so.
I think it's a great idea to have this thread or group -- surely this is the most important thing this site can be doing! Thanks for starting it.
I think it's fantastic if a guy can go to one of these retreats. I wonder if the same process can be achieved by other routes. I'm not disagreeing with you, Will--I can see the value in feeling recognized as a man by other men. But it's a bit confusing, because it's like we ultimately have to give ourselves permission to view ourselves as men---yet we have a hard time doing that without someone else's permission.

It used to be recognized that boys became men when their dads saw them as men. Alternatively, lots of men joined the military, and decided that that experience "made a man" out of them. But what about the thousands of men who grow up without a close connection to a father, and never join the military---other than one of these weekend retreats, what "rite of passage" creates this paradigm shift in them?

More importantly, while a rite of passage can be valuable, what about the growth process that should preceed it? What accomplishments and developmental achievements over the months can foster a man's acceptance of his own masculine role? Food for thought.....



Will said:
My strong opinion, based on my experience, is that there is no substitute for initiation: an ordeal you agree to go thru, provided by men, and when you're through it, you get recognized as a man by other men.

Mine was through ManKind Project. I'm a little unhappy with the way politics (left-right politics) is creeping into this organization, but the initiation is still a great gift, not much changed from what I went through. Christian men might want to do New Adam, or I think John Eldredge has a weekend.

After that, I was a man, although early on a wounded one. Now much less so.
Hi Todd!

My response is a little delayed given that I've just joined the group. I found that joining the military (the Australian Army Reserve) has been a great experience, where I really felt that I became my own man after returning from 1 month of boot camp and being challenged beyond what I'd ever been challenged before.

I believe, that another good initiation is going into the wild, or on a road trip, or a hiking trip around a continent, by yourself where you're alone and out of your comfort zone and are forced to rely on your own wits, or trust in complete strangers to help you out. Then when you return you find that you are stronger and have increased confidence as a result of self reliance and seeing the world beyond your immediate horizons.

At the end of this year I'm going on my own 3 month journey, exploring Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil. I'm looking forward to it -it should be a fantastic adventure, and a good way to end a year at uni.
My thought is that we often set an unrealistically high bar. In this case, if I set a bar that I must do my journey alone, or without the support of those that have walked it before me, then that's too much. Let's do it with coaching, and *then* do it alone.

(Or not. Consider warriors in an army. As seasoned veterans, they still don't fight alone; if they did, they'd be killed. We get by with a little help from our friends.)

We also set too high a bar, I think, in relating to women, at least to start with. As a friend of mine said, "We think that if we can't seduce a supermodel who's currently running to catch a cab, we suck." It's ok to start by asking the girl next door to have some coffee or whatever. She'll probably be a better catch long term that the supermodel anyway, although that's an aside.
I'm aware of the ManKind Project, and it can certainly be a proving ground on our way to manhood. But doesn't "the journey" include any number of rites along the way? In my own early development, I experienced much that led me to be the man I am today... Such as: The Cub Scouts, The Boy Scouts, "Summer Camp", MYF (I'm a Methodist) The YMCA, sports (in general), not to mention less formal initiations, such as family dynamics, birth order, social pecking order, academic achievements, and the like. Comments?
Quantum level of difference, I think.
...and my son, if he's up for it, will have the benefit of Scouts. We didn't have Scouts where I was, but it sounds like a great way to learn.
I am not convinced of the initiation route for myself. Initiation sounds to me like something similar to what gang members, and cult members go through to bind them to a group and group or group leader's ideals more than help them grow as individuals. The initiations practiced by modern "men's movement" groups seem more pseudo-psychological and seem to share many traits and characteristics of cults producing an artificial sense of rite of passage. Indeed, a quick search on the net for the ManKind Project quickly uncovered several sources of criticism that raised a flag of caution in me. Maybe someone here could explain more of what goes on and the real benefits of such an initiation.

I suppose the aspect I find most troublesome with these 'men's movement" events is the motivation of those who run them made more questionable by the enormous profit they make, promising answers they have no way of answering better than anyone else to questions we all have.
Will said:
...and my son, if he's up for it, will have the benefit of Scouts. We didn't have Scouts where I was, but it sounds like a great way to learn.

That, it is! Would you believe I still use stuff I learned in the Scouts? ...and here it is almost FIFTY years later. Every single time, I help an elderly person, cross the street, etc. it's due to the things I learned as a Scout. Everytime I find myself being a good sport, it came from being a Boy Scout. Heck, everytime I tie a knot... well you get the picture... The Boy Scouts, and I'm sure other such organizations, is a very necessary part of the journey from boys to men. IMHO.
For boys ages 5 to 12 and their fathers, there is the YMCA Father/Son Indian Guides.

From the Manikiki Nation Constitution:
The purpose of YMCA Father/Son Indian Guides is to foster the companionship of father and son. ­
The aims of YMCA Father/Son Indian Guides are:
a) To be clean in body and pure in heart.
b) To be “Pals Forever” with my dad/son.
c) To love the sacred circle of my family.
d) To be attentive while others speak.
e) To love my neighbor as myself.
f) To seek and preserve the beauty of the Great Spirit’s work in forest, fields and stream.

The slogan of YMCA Father/Son Indian Guides is “Pals Forever”.
I have to agree 100% with the huhman. Not a day goes by that I do something that I learned in Boy Scouts. I am an Eagle Scout and I have to say that Boy Scouts more than any other influence in my young life shaped me to what I am today. Think about it the scout law is straight forward; a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obediant, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. All things that embody what many of us see as Manly or the core foundation anyway. My son is soon to be 4. when he is old enough i will introduce him to cub scouts just like I was. If he likes it and I think he may great. If he chooses not to I will not be disapointed far from it I can still teach him all I learned in scouting. In my opinion every boy should be introduced to it. Atleast to see what its about and see if its what they would like.

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