Boys Need Men


I can still see him leaning against the wall.

It was late afternoon; the room was emptying. I had just completed a daylong seminar program for young men at an elite private school. We had covered all the big issues; life, sex, relationships, pornography and what it takes to become a fine man in a culture that celebrates the man-boy and elevates the juvenile.

He was tall, athletic, popular. I could see that in some ways life would be easy for him. Girls liked him and the future was about to open up wide for wherever he wanted to go.

programs for boys

The perfect picture wavered and fell apart. Trying to hide the tears from the boys around him he whispered, “I don’t want to be like him. I’m so scared I’ll turn out like him.”

His father, a wealthy businessman, had pursued numerous extra-marital affairs. The family was torn to pieces and the young man in front of me had lived through the chaos. He was just so scared that he was going to repeat the pattern.


We talked. I said what I could but I knew the real answer was deeper. The journey ahead was not one he could walk alone.

In essence, what he needs are great men around him. Boys need men. Women play an incredibly important role in the life of every boy, but sooner or later, or rather sooner and later, boys need to be surrounded by fine men. They need men around them who can confirm their goodness, their potential and their identity.

The young man I was talking to needs the steady ongoing companionship, mentorship and quiet leadership of good men. A point we make frequently in The Men We Need Program is that our society is deeply conflicted about men in general. We trivialise and minimise the role of men. Homer Simpson and Two-and-a-half-Men have created parodies of all that is strong, noble, protective and wonderful about manhood.  We then wonder why our boys live in a twilight zone of video games, fleeting sexual encounters, violence and depression.

What is your school doing to surround boys with good men? What more could you be doing? Who could you invite to walk alongside boys more frequently? Creating great programs for boys only requires a few simple ingredients.

Boys need men. Not perfect men, just men who are trying to serve, trying to grow and that have seen enough of life to have some quiet wisdom to bring and encouragement to offer.