For Boys & Who They Become As Men

Each Tuesday, after I drop off my children at school, including my sweet son, who is turning 12 next month, I coach three young men from Austin, Seattle, to Charleston. As my Zoom greets them at where they are in life, the coaching sessions consist of the same doubts and worries that young people face as they learn to discover who they are and make plans for where they’re going. Parents share candidly about their teen and young adult, “…well, since the COVID-19 pandemic…” as it has heightened anxiety and increased life stressors for the individual and the whole family who is learning how to manage the here and now. 

One thing that I know for sure is that boys are thirsty for connection, belonging, and mentoring, too. We need to show up and provide them with a strong foundation of trust and love with skill building, where learning, leadership, and mentorship are accessible and contribute to the experience of who they are

Success, in our culture, has taken many forms. In coaching, success from Dr. Maria Nemeth, psychotherapist, and master life coach, is “doing what you said you would do with clarity, focus, ease, and grace” as the source to have a meaningful, enriched life. We each have a purpose to contribute while on our journey. We succeed in spirit through the power of mentorship and support. We grow into the possibilities and opportunities that exist for us with the giving and receiving of mentorship. As a purpose-driven educator and former school learning specialist, shifting into life coaching principles to support people on their journey has been a transformation to witness with healing and empowerment.

Yet, I don’t think we can afford to wait until our boys grow into “Man-Boys”—the 18 to 28-year-old is proving to be critical in the development of emerging into full adulthood. Today, Dr. Laurence Steinberg, author of You and Your Adult Child, suggests, “…it takes the average middle-class young adult about thirteen years to go from graduation to starting a family. It took their parents’ generation about eight years to make the same journey (8).” Parents and young adults alike are experiencing this culture shift, and both, rightfully so, are frustrated. It is advised that parents and young adults adjust to this new “timetable,” as emerging into adulthood requires modern life skills for success. 

These are sensitive years for the formation and identity of being who you are. We are witnessing a culture of young adults struggling to shift into their 20s with clarity, focus, ease, and grace. A lack of wholeness from within—or a reservation for next steps to college or career readiness, as the longer people stay in school or out of it, based on our circumstances and events that occur more likely may delay the next steps. The incompleteness remains as young adults express loneliness and being overwhelmed with management in adulthood, enough to paralyze one from taking authentic action. 

I remain hopeful and inspired when programs in our community, like Reach Academy for Young Men in Los Angeles, California, serve a purpose and meaning to the lives of others. A four-week summer program for boys, an institute for leadership and mentorship. Nat Damon, Founder and Director of RAFYM, believes in “boys’ unlimited potential when they are in a positive, growth-minded, trusting community of ethically sound and curious young men.” He further shares with sensitivity and his whole heart that “we are the safety net for boys as they navigate their way through school and life.” Amen to that, Mr. Damon! 

Educators and parents alike understand the value of boy and girl-centered structures for fostering learning environments where each child is seen and valued for who they are. We all need strong role models to be present in observation, because when we can see it, we can be it. We are just as capable, brilliant, and worthy of growing, learning, and practicing tools and skills to reach our dreams with ease and less struggle. 

In a supportive, safe, boy—and girl-centered learning environment, children can learn from diverse learners and leaders who are mentors, showing up in a space designed for them to be seen for who they are—brilliant with endless possibilities.  

Programs like RAFYM  are for the here and now, not waiting for adulthood. Boys can connect this summer with intentional programming rooted in core values and thoughtful curriculum for engagement to enrich the young minds and souls for tomorrow. 

I hope you will join the RAF for an in-person information session on Tuesday, May 7th, 2024. For more information about this summer’s programming and enrollment, email RAFYM directly at info.reachacademy@gmail.com

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