Growing Good Men is a unique opportunity for dads and their teenage sons to embark on a quest of discovery.
A son’s relationship with his father can be a powerful guiding force as he wrestles with the questions of what kind of man he is becoming. The most important ingredient in this relationship is time. Take time out together to get reconnected in an environment which fosters honesty, mutual respect and a hunger for more out of life.
Is a program encouraging and enabling fathers and sons to share faith, to strengthen their relationships and to explore important elements of growing into manhood. It is designed for fathers and their adolescent sons in the age range 13 to 15 years or school years 8/10. It has been most successful with 13 and 14 year olds or years 8/9.
Based on our research, reading, and experience in the field over 9 years with 125 events in 21 dioceses in Australia and NZ reaching more than 7500 we have developed the GROWING GOOD MEN event. It has been used very successfully in Parish, school and community settings. We have experienced the program as an invaluable experience to deepen communication between fathers and sons at time when boys are often beginning to react away from their parents. This is a time when they are undergoing important transitions that make the father son relationship a key resource for the son to journey to manhood. In contemporary Western society this relationship is one of the most damaged and damaging with many fathers psychologically, emotionally and physically absent from their families. Our Australian society is no exception and has one of the highest suicide rates in the modern world among adolescent boys. Traditional training or mentoring by a father in a trade or in a rural setting has largely disappeared from our social context as have any significant rites of passage, initiation or validation ceremony to mark the key transitions form boyhood to manhood. This contrasts sharply with traditional society and adds considerable burden to the search for meaning and direction in the life of teenage boys.
This weekend experience is a small but powerful step in the ongoing process of helping adolescent males to grow into psychologically, emotional and spiritually mature men. It has been a key moment for many in our experience. It is certainly an opportunity to awaken the father to the importance of their role and give them skills and ideas. They are supported by other fathers and sons in the experience. The program certainly invites ongoing meetings to support in a community setting to encourage ongoing growth. Where natural fathers are absent mentors such as older brothers, relatives of friends, or other primary males can work well.
Set over a weekend, the program usually involves session of teaching, sharing, fun, action, reflection and prayer with the centre piece being the Rite of Passage on Saturday night. It concludes with a Fathers Blessing and then commissioning liturgy. This format can be to a certain extent customized to suit different groups and spiritualities. However it is best suited in a Christian (Catholic) school community environment.
It is our desire to develop these events in school communities and train local teams to host and run this important work on an annual basis. Usually the process is that the full menALIVE team run the Growing Good Men (GGM) event in year 1 then a smaller menALIVE team supported by a local team run the event in year 2, in year 3 our hope is that menALIVE license the local GGM team to continue this vital work in the local community. Obviously menALIVE will continue its support and improvements to this valuable resource and look to grow other strategic offerings for the local community.