Boys to Men

The Lost Art of the Rite of Passage

Boys to Men is a book and a work, born from a desire to provide and equip father and their sons, as well as young men, with the vision, path and tools to be a specific kind of man; the kind of man this culture desperately needs.

Why Shoot Yourself in the Foot?

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Any discussion about raising sons, or raising kids in general, will and should always include character.

A person's character is defining for the individual, and it may matter more than just about any other factor in a persons life. Therefore it should matter to us personally, and it really should matter to us as we are raising our sons and daughters.

Character is a funny thing, you can run from it but you can't hide; in other words, you can try to avoid your character defects and flaws, but they will eventually find you out! Many people can fool you about who they really are by hiding their true character.

Some hide their character intentionally because it is flawed and doesn't serve them well in the moment, only for it to surface later, and often time catching us by surprise. This is duplicitous, a character flaw in itself.

People don't think often enough about their character; don't think often enough about their reputation, their future, and consequently shoot themselves in the foot. You can get away with some things for a time, but eventually your character will show through, good or bad and you will be revealed.

Politicians unfortunately give us plenty of examples of poor character, and we seem to often be caught by surprise by their true character as aspects of their lives become public. We have also been fortunate enough to have politicians with good character, they just seem to be fewer in number.

This is not a political conversation. This is not an ideological conversation. It is a conversation on character, and for better or for worse, our presidents have given examples of both of good character and poor character.

When a President of the United States has cracks and flaws in their character, when their character catches up to them, it affects us all. Suddenly rather than governing and leading, they have to spend time, energy and money on massive distractions that hurt our country.

Examples of recent Presidents and their character:

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Donald Trump. Our current President, whether or not you agree with his policies, clearly he has real character issues that have created lots of drama for himself, those around him, and us as citizens. The President has challenges with his treatment of people, his ability to control his communication, his civility, his business dealings, his issues with women, his truthfulness and more. The result? Massive distractions. He has given his opposition more ammunition than anyone needs to keep him on his heels and distract him from governing.

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Barak Obama. Our previous president, again policies aside, had much more solid character. There were some issues around his truthfulness in regards to his past. There were real issues around his relationship politically and with religion, that he distanced himself from. But there was really no question about him as a father, a husband, his fidelity, or the way he generally treated people.

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George W. Bush. Our 43rd president was widely considered a man of good, solid character. He certainly had his issues in his past, but he had changed his life dramatically. By the time he was President, it was difficult to find anything to attack him on based on his character. His family was solid, he was respected, he was well liked. We were fortunate to have a man who was able to focus on leading and governing without distractions flagging him.

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Bill Clinton. Our 42nd president is possibly one of our worst illustrations of deficient character. The flaws in his character just didn't precede him taking the office of President, they were active deficiencies that besmirched the integrity and honor of the office he held, and the subsequent behaviors following his elicit activity eventually got him impeached. His behavior had a profound, negative impact on our culture and his family.

We could go on about the Presidents in our past whose character was commendable and those whose was not.

The point is that your character will follow you. It's not about being perfect - we all have our past mistakes. and current things we are growing past, but those don't have to define us and our character.

We need to take the time to identify the public and private figures around us, who have the kind of excellent character we want our sons to emulate, as well as those who fail, to help them see what happens when you do, and do not care for your character.

This is critical to help them understand the power of their character, and to ensure they don't shoot themselves in the foot, by having weak and flawed character follow them.

We can all recover. My character was extremely flawed and deficient for the first 32 years of my life. However, with concerted effort, vision, values, goals and faith, I was able to redefine my character.  And you can too!

For more information about raising great sons with solid character, consider the book Boys to Men - The Lost Art of the Rite of Passage. You can find out more about the book at www.allenjones.org.

We have a NEETS problem!

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Although not a new term, it is being applied more frequently in the US and it means:

Not in Education, Employment or Training

It refers specifically to a class of people, generally 18 - 34 depending on the country; 16-24 in the UK and 16-34 in Japan for example.

This is not a cultural phenomena based on country of origin, but it is most commonly seen in Westernized cultures.

Most of us would generally agree that we see this at almost epidemic proportions in the US. We all know one or more young person who has made a choice not to participate as a productive member of our society.

We have a very large number who are sitting at the edge of NEET by barely working (just enough to marginally get-by or fooling around with school because it's easier). 

Within this demographic of 18-34 year old men in America (this is not exclusive to men, but this is where it is most destructive and predominant) we see an increasing number who would rather live on parents, friends, off of the government, etc. than to get out and work.

  • Some find their way into useless education milking government grants because it's better than going to work.
  • Many you will find living at home with parents because parents don't have the courage to kick them out.
  • Some you will find living almost communally because it's cheap and easy.
  • Most you will find on some sort of government assistance.

Granted the lack of economic growth and job creation has contributed to this problem in the past decade. Generally though, availability of some kind of work is not the real issue, people who wanted it found it.

The biggest contributor is the lack of accountability from, and neglectful rearing, by parents. By neglectful parenting I mean parents who coddle their kids rather than teach them to work hard, earn money, pay their way and come to understand and experience personal accountability. At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, this primary responsibility for enforcement falls on the father. 

I also understand there are exceptions to this rule. Parents can do all the right things and your child could still become a NEET due to no fault of your own. Why does this happen? The culture of "low expectations", and coddling by government with the ease of access to programs, makes it harder for parents to hold their young adults accountable.

And it's not just about a job. It includes Education and Training. They simply aren't doing anything productive for themselves or society. They essentially become leeches. They would rather be lazy than be inconvenienced by the investment of time and energy to work, go to school seriously, or get training for a skill as an apprentice somewhere. 

I know that is tough talk, but what else do you call an organism that attaches itself to a host and feeds off it? They may wake up when they get into late twenties, or even into their thirty's. But what a tragedy to lose all those years of their lives. 

Until parents and government quite coddling and enabling these young people, each with enormous God given potential, and "cut them off" from all forms of financial support - they will continue to take the path of least resistance.

We need to support them appropriately with encouragement and love, they are not to be discarded. But true encouragement and love will look harsh to them, and to the other bleeding heart, progressive types who have created the situation. It means telling them:

  • "No" when they need some money or food
  • "No" when the need some money for gas
  • "No" when they want to come live in your home

It means looking them in the eye and telling them, "Because I love you I won't help you." 

This is simply a product of the progressive ideas that have accelerated under Baby Boomer parents, and have become ingrained in our cultural through our families, our institutions (including school). It's the product of generations of lowering expectations across every area of life.

We often hear the phrase "I want my kids to have a better life than me". But "better" often is translated "easier" and that is not loving. That is irresponsible and harmful. The Hippocratic Oath is often quoted as "do no harm" and I think that is often and exactly what many (including and especially our government) are doing unintentionally; harming our young people.

What's the solution? It begins at home. As a parent you must hold high standards and expectations for your kids. You must hold them accountable for personal decisions. You must teach them early on and reinforce consistently, the biblical truth in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”

Our institutions must support parents by reforming and creating an accountable class rather than an entitlement class (Vote! That is the only way that changes). But we cannot depend on a corrupt power structure like government that is too concerned with self-preservation than doing what is right.

So what do you do as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, or mentor of a NEET?  Get a proper and healthy definition of "love" in your mind, read up, get tough and help them by making the current "nest" they are in too uncomfortable and force them into responsible, mature, healthy behavior.

You can find a very practical resource for this in my book Boys To Men - The Lost Art of the Rite of Passage. There are lots of great resources available today through books, podcasts, publications, classes. Want a great starting place? The book of Proverbs in the Bible.

The problem in it's entirety is enormous! But if we will each do our part with the NEETS in our lives, those young people still malleable in our care, we can make a difference.  Start with your own. Then care enough to become aware of whats going on around you and support causes, people and policies that will help these young people, not hurt them.

Let's be part of the solution!