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Today’s guest is Steven Arms.
We go deep today talking about:
- What is a Rite of Passage?
- Steven’s personal experience having gone through a Rite of Passage
- Why a Rite of Passage is absolutely essential for all young men
- How to run a Rite of Passage for your son, including resources, templates, and rituals
- Why manhood must be bestowed by other men
- The importance of showing up as a man your son would want to emulate
Steven Arms is a co-author of the book Milestone to Manhood: A Christian Rite of Passage to Help Your 13-Year-Old Son Make the Leap from Boyhood to Manhood. In the book, Steven shares his firsthand experience of his Rite of Passage weekend and reflects on how it shaped him into the man that he is today. Steven lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Emily, and is the proud father of two young children.
Milestone to Manhood shows how fathers of pre-teen boys can help their sons to successfully make the transition from boyhood to manhood. It is a father’s responsibility to bestow the title of “man” on his son, and the book outlines a once-in-a-lifetime weekend to help a father do so. The weekend involves the other male role models in the son’s life as well, like his grandfather, uncles, and older brothers, who all participate in order to make it clear to the boy that he is now considered to be a man. This coming-of-age ceremony is called his Rite of Passage.
Unknown Speaker 0:00
If you are the foundation of your family, you are the firm footing. They build their lives on. You carry a glorious burden and you never dream of laying it down. You carry it with joy and gratitude. You show up, even when you don't feel like it. You lead, serve, love and protect. You are a father. This is the dead word podcast where men are forged into elite husbands and fathers by learning what it takes to become harder to kill, easier to love, and be equipped to lead. Get ready to start building the only legacy that truly matters, your family.
Curt Storring 1:19
Welcome to another episode, man. And this is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of dad work. I am joined today by Steven arms. And I'm really excited about this because I recently read the book that he wrote with his father. It's called milestone to manhood. And it's all about how to run a rite of passage for your own sons. This is something that is absolutely vital for all young boys, to be told by their fathers, specifically, son, I now see you as a man, there's so much in our world that would be fixed, that would be better that would hurt less for men, if they knew that they were a man rather than trying to find out their manhood through racing cars, or doing drugs or sleeping with countless women or whatever the case may be success financially. Most of these things are actually men trying to prove that they are men, when we as fathers could simply bestow the title on our son with an intentional rite of passage. So we go deep today talking about what a rite of passage even is Stephens personal experience having gone through a rite of passage, why it's so absolutely essential for all young men. How to run a rite of passage for your son including very nitty gritty details on resources, templates, rituals, you can follow why manhood must be bestowed by other men, and the importance of showing up as a man your son would want to emulate. Steven arms is a co author of the book milestone to manhood, a Christian rite of passage to help your 13 year old son make the leap from boyhood to manhood. In the book, Stephen shares his firsthand experience of his rite of passage weekend and reflects on how it shaped him into the man that he is today. Steven lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Emily and is the proud father of two young children. milestone of manhood shows how fathers of preteen boys can help their sons to successfully make the transition from boyhood to manhood. It is a father's responsibility to bestow the title of man on his son and the book outlines a once in a lifetime weekend to help a father do so. The weekend involves the other male role models in his son's life as well, like his grandfather, uncles and older brothers, who all participate in order to make it clear to the boy that he is now considered to be a man. This coming of age ceremony is called his rite of passage. You can find that and everything else we talked about at milestone to manhood.com you can find the show notes to get that as well after you listen to this at Dad.Work slash podcast as usual, guys, I love this episode because I read the book, I am applying the book as I plan for my own son's rite of passage. It's a few years away, but I am actively planning and anticipating running one of these for each of my sons. So guys, not only are you going to want to listen to this if you have sons almost at the 13 year old age mark, but also get this on your radar if not, and we go through what might actually be important for you as a man to hear as well. If you never got this from your father, it's important to reflect on what that looks like in your life and where you might be trying to find your masculinity. Where I also am able to share from my experience the thing that did it for me rather than getting this rite of passage because I never got that and I was never told I was a man so I know how it feels. Alright guys, let's jump into this if you've been enjoying the podcast please give us a rating or review on Apple and Spotify it literally is the easiest and most helpful thing you can do if this show has been resonating with you because it gets it in the ears of more guys we have to play the games with Apple and Spotify so guys can find this when shows up on searching for Dad podcast, for example. Unfortunately, I got to ask you to do that. And you know what, if you have been getting value, this is the simple thing that you can do to give back to allow more men to receive this work because I think this is life changing, world changing and generational changing work. All that being said, Here is Steven arms. Let's go. All right, dads, we are here for another amazing episode of The dad work podcast. And today I have got Steven arms with me, because I just read his book milestone to manhood. And it talks all about rites of passages for young boys. For 13 year old boy, specifically, I don't want to get into maybe why the specifics here. But man, first of all, thank you for being here. And thank you for writing this book. Because I can see in my own life, and the dads that I work with, we all could and should have had a rite of passage. So welcome. And thank you very much for doing this work. It's very important.
Steven Arms 5:37
Thanks for having me, Kurt.
Curt Storring 5:38
Yeah, so I am excited to get into this. Because like you the way that the book is written, it's like your story. So you wrote from that sort of childhood experience to what it felt like what it looked like what it did for you. And I would definitely want to get into that. But maybe we should just start at the real basics. Like for guys who haven't heard this initiation, or this rite of passage, what are we talking about here? How would you define a rite of passage?
Steven Arms 6:03
For sure. So in this context, I would define a rite of passage as an event that a boy can look back on in his life. And remember that that was the moment that I became a man. Like you said, most guys don't have a clear rite of passage in their life for most guys, that's either when they get married, or buy their first house, or have their first kid that that's when they consider themselves to be a man, or they still don't consider themselves to be a man, you know, they're still questioning things and trying to figure out their own masculine identity. And so I would say that's the benefit of this rite of passage weekend is that when a father straight up tells his son, I consider you no longer to be a boy now, but in my eyes, you're a man, then the boy doesn't question it. So the boy goes through his teenage years in his 20s, with his confidence in his masculine identity, because his father gave it to him. It's a gift.
Curt Storring 7:06
Man, I can just speak to the opposite effect of that, and I want to hear more about your experience with that in your life. But it took me like, even even, like, a few years ago, I was still feeling like that boy, I hadn't closed that chapter fully. And I was like, not a great dad, I was not a great husband, because I still felt like that. Man, I don't even know who I really am like, am I a man yet? When does it feel like it? Why do I feel like when I'm in the presence of a man, I feel it, I see it, you know, what, like, a man so called, looks like feels like whatever. And it's like, I don't really feel that. And it took me joining men's communities, getting into men's work being around other intentional good men to almost go through that in my 30s. Whereas your experience like 13 years old man, I can't even imagine. So you want to just like, maybe talk about how that has impacted you. And I know, it's tough, because, you know, we don't have the opposite side of what it might have looked like if you didn't go through this. But has this been actually a massive thing in your life?
Steven Arms 8:05
Yeah, I would say yes, for sure. The ways that it impacted me was, for one in my teenage years, I was really confident in my masculine identity. And I don't mean to say that in like a cocky way that I was walking around with my chest puffed out or that I was some stud 13 year old, not not in that way. What I mean by that is that anytime someone outside of the family ever like offhandedly called me or referred to me as a boy, like, in high school, you know, the teachers would say, boys, like settle down, you know, whenever a parent or adult would say something like that immediately, the first thought in my mind was, I'm not a boy, I'm a man, because my dad told me, This person just doesn't know that in my family. I'm actually a man, you know. And so, I, as I went through my teenage years, I was very confident like, I'm a man, because my dad told me, you know, and I would say the second way that it impacted me was that I really developed a very strong relationship with my dad and my grandfather. So part of this rite of passage weekend is that it doesn't just involve the dad, but it involves other men in a boy's life. So for me, on my rite of passage weekend, there was my dad there, but also my grandfather and two of my uncles. And at the end of the week, during the weekend, you know, we were engaging in talks and doing these exercises talking about what is manhood what does it mean to be a good man? What is the role of faith in a man's life? And one thing that was said throughout the weekend was as you go into your own journey of manhood, if you ever come into rough spots which you will You'll have highs and lows, you'll go through some tough times in life. And if you haven't questions, please come to us. Because we love you, we have your best intention, we we have your best intention in mind, and we won't judge you, you please use us as, as mentors, you know. And so I felt like I could trust these guys, because they had opened up to me on the on our weekend, about their own lives and some of their own struggles. So it was really in college, where I was really starting to question everything about how I was raised, you know, my faith, my political views, like, I think that happens a lot to people in college, you know, all of a sudden, your kind of bubble is burst and you meet new people and new ideas. And it challenges you, you know, you have to think about what do you believe not? What do your parents believe? Or how were you raised. And as I was kind of going through that questioning period in my life, I remembered back to my rite of passage weekend as a 13 year old. And I remembered them saying, please come to us, if you have questions, we won't judge you, we love you unconditionally. And it was those words that ultimately gave me the trust, to go back to my grandfather into my dad and say, Hey, Dad, I'm really having questions here. Can you help me navigate these, you know, and they weren't able to answer all of my questions, but they were able to share more about their own journey as men. And you know, hindsight is 2020. But I would say, for sure for in my life, I'm not sure that I would be a practicing Christian today, if it wasn't for this weekend.
Curt Storring 12:02
Man, when I hear that kind of thing, like one of my, one of the biggest fears that I'm considering years away is like the kids leave, and I didn't do enough to secure that influence with them. And they leave and they get into question like, questioning period like you. And they walk away from me from faith from like, everything that I know is good. And to like, I can't even imagine to like, personally, I would never have brought anything important to my dad or the men in my family, because it was just like, oh, there's no, there's no leadership, there's no trust, there's no influence, there's none of that. So I better just figure it out on my own. And I think so many guys walk through and figure it out on their own. And, actually, that brings me to this quote that I just want to, I want to share the quote, because it's so good. And it's so right from this book. And I want to move on to like, what an actual rite of passage looks like. But it says, As men, we cannot instill our own sense of manhood in ourselves. We need other men to tell us that we are a man before we actually believe it. And that's what my family did for me. So that's a quote from you, and your book milestone of manhood. And that just man, I'd like triple underline that one. And going like, it's just the way of things the lone wolf mentality, the individualism, it's like, it doesn't make any sense. You cannot have masculinity really firmly, maturely rooted unless it is bestowed. And that's a hard lesson that I learned. It's something I'm taking into my own parenting journey now and how can I bring that to my kids? But actually, before we get into, like, the the how, and the what and the why of the rite of passage? Where are you today? Like, are you let me just let me just factchecking here. Are you like, happy successful you got a family? What is Stephens life look like these days?
Steven Arms 13:41
Sure. So I would say yeah, I am happy and successful in the way that I have a lot of love in my life. I got I was married in 2008. My wife and I got married in 2018. We have two children. Our daughter is three years old. And our son is one year old. And we have a third one on the way due in March of Thank you during March of next year. And yeah, I mean, I have a really loving and supportive family. My dad is like one of my best friends and I feel so, so blessed and so lucky to have him in my life. He's really just someone that I really look up to, you know, he, my dad didn't have a father figure in the house because his dad, his mom and dad separated when he was five years old. So my dad grew up not really knowing, you know how to be a father or how to be a man because there was no man or no father in his house. And I really respect my dad because of the man and the father that he turned out to be, you know, I mean, by no means was he perfect If that's for sure, he has his own shortcomings, but he does his best to, to lay down his life for his wife and for his kids. And I really respect him for that, you know? Yeah. So I would say that, you know, with this rite of passage, and just the type of parents that I was, I had, like, I feel, I consider myself to be very lucky.
Curt Storring 15:27
Yeah, and man like that, that can't be overstated. And I know a lot of people are, you know, when they think of success, or whatever, it's a very quantitative thing. You know, you got the money, you got the kids, you got the house, you got the whatever. But if you just think if you're listening this podcast, and you just think like, What would success really be? Can you imagine, as a son, respecting and loving your father enough to want to be around him and to trust him? As a father, like, I'm just thinking, from your dad's perspective, men, like I want my kids to say all the things you just said about me, because I don't have that role model either, like my dad was around, but he got divorced when my, when I was three. And you know, we're intermittently on and off with him. And I feel like I'm making it up as I go along. And it's because of mentors and good elders and other men in my life and books like this, honestly, that I'm like, Oh, I can lean on real men now. But I would have been completely lost. And so if I can get some my son someday tell someone that like a man, I respect my dad, because he didn't have that and look at what he did. That's winning at everything I care about. So I just want to like, really underscore that for you guys listening, because if this was such an important part of your life, to get to where you are today, and to just solidify that manhood like guys, we got to listen up to this. And I want to get in now, to maybe a little bit about how to do this, we figured out why so important. Sounds amazing. I long for this, in my past innocence. We've got your story, but can you help us now? Maybe just envision what this looks like. So you guys have written a very specific style. I've read another book, raising 100 A night, which I really enjoy. But so there's, there's a million ways to do this, I suppose. But I really liked the simplicity and the step by steps you guys give in the book? Do you want to maybe either walk us through just from your experience, what you remember about the rite of passage? Or you can go and take this sort of, you know, step 123? Course, but how would you approach maybe giving us some insight into what a rite of passage looks like?
Steven Arms 17:33
For sure. So to start off, I'll say that the rite of passage is a surprise for the boy. So when I had my rite of passage, at 13 years old, I had no idea that it was coming. And I actually have an older brother, who's two years older than me, and he had a rite of passage. But he and my dad, and my grandfather all kept it a secret that I was going to have one, two. And really the element of surprise is meant to, to make the boy feel like the weekend is all about him. And to make him feel special and unique. You know, if in our family, if the boys knew that, you know, this weekend is coming, I think they would kind of have, we would we would have developed like preconceived notions of like, Oh, everybody gets this weekend, it's just a normal thing. It's just a weird thing that my family does. And maybe they would kind of drag their feet into the weekend. But when it's a surprise, the boy goes into it with a whole fresh set of eyes, you know, he doesn't see it coming. He has no baggage attached to the weekend. So the first element of it is the element of surprise. And then the second thing is what I alluded to earlier is that it's not just the father, but it's other male mentors and role models in the boy's life. You know, undoubtedly, the father is the most important man in a boy's life. And he should take ideally, he should take the lead in organizing one of these weekends and telling his son, I want you to know, I no longer consider you to be a boy. But in my eyes, you're a man, I think every father has the responsibility to tell his son that at some point in his life, but the thinking behind having other men present on the weekend, is that, you know, at 13 years old, boys and girls are starting to develop that tension with their parents, right? They're maturing, they're, they're starting to spread their wings and they want independence. And so inevitably, they rebel and a lot of times they don't listen to mom and dad, right? But when you have other men, they're men who he the boy respects, but doesn't necessarily have that same proximity to you know, he's not living under the same roof as, as this man, then, that man might say Something that dad has been saying for three months, but just hearing it come out of the mouth of a man who's not Dad, it might finally sink in, you know. So that was the case for me like having these, having four men instead of just one man and take me away and say, we all consider you to be a man, it's like, well, there's no way I can question this now, because I saw all four of those men in my eyes were like, you're clearly a man, you know, all these guys are married and have kids and are hard workers. Like as a 13 year old, those were the best examples of men in my life. And they all told me, You're a man in this family now. So that's the second element of the weekend is that it's not just the dad, but it involves other men as well. And then, moving on from there, the weekend itself, is made up of seven different rituals. And the purpose of their rituals are to, to give the weekend meaning, you know, in our family, we knew that if we didn't have like, certain tasks, that if you put five guys in a cabin for a weekend, we would probably just go fishing the whole time. You know, I think there's that, that reluctancy and all of us to talk about deep things, you know, a lot of times as men, we want to stay at the surface level and not dig up, like the important talk about the important things in life. Because that takes vulnerability, right? Like to talk about your strengths and your weaknesses is not an easy thing to do. So the purpose of these rituals was really to give the weekend structure and meaning so that the boy could look back on it and was like, wow, that was an amazing weekend. It wasn't super shallow, it was like very meaningful, and we engaged in some really good discussions.
Curt Storring 22:02
Man, that's awesome. And I'm just thinking here, like, if you are in a situation where let's say, the boy doesn't have uncles, you don't have a grandparent around. What are some other examples of men, you could you could bring to this, that would make sense. Without it being like, you know, the son maybe doesn't really know them that well or like, can you give us a sense of who else might be involved?
Steven Arms 22:24
Yeah, so other examples would be like older brothers. So again, in my family, once you're once you go through this weekend, you're considered to be a man. That means you get to go on the rite of passage weekends for the younger brothers and younger cousins. So I had one at 13. But I also attended my younger brother's rites of passage and my younger cousins rite of passage. So you know, and I was only you know, 1718 at the time for those ones. So it could be older brothers, older cousins. It could be like I did Boy Scouts growing up, so, Scoutmaster might be appropriate. If you do martial arts, maybe your, your headmaster, any man that the boy has a good relationship with, and ultimately that you want to pick the type of man that you want your son to turn out to be. So I think that's that's the criteria is it's got to be a good man who you want to influence you trust to influence positively on your son. And to the boy already has somewhat of a relationship with Him. It doesn't have to be super close, but this should not be the first time that your boy is meeting this man.
Curt Storring 23:41
Right? Okay. Yeah, I like what you said there. I wrote down as a note, like good fruit, you want the fruit of their lives to be very evident, I would suggest or I would assume, also, I just didn't think in, in my situation as well. Like maybe you could ask the pastor, maybe to ask like close family friends. If there's a father, because we Yeah, I'm just I'm thinking about like, Okay, who am I going to invite? And those are maybe a couple of good ideas as well. Would you agree?
Steven Arms 24:06
Yeah. Okay, sure. 100%
Curt Storring 24:08
Awesome. Are you open to sharing a couple of these rituals, I know that guy should just go to Amazon and buy the book, which is really good and has all of these and a lot of like other options to make it your own, which I really enjoy. So like, there's a step by step you can just like literally copy it in the back of the book and do it but there's also more ideas. Can you give us some sense? I don't know how much you want to share, if any, but what are some of those rituals that you partook in?
Steven Arms 24:34
Absolutely, yeah, I'm going to open book I'm happy to talk about all of it.
Curt Storring 24:37
Okay, sweet. Let's do it. I want to lay out like if possible, I'd love to lay out like a full thing. And then, you know, get the personal side, get the book, get this checklists that are in the back of it. But if you're open man, I would really appreciate like as much as much details as you're comfortable sharing.
Steven Arms 24:53
Absolutely. Thank you. So the first ritual is a an entrance ceremony and The thinking behind this is that when we look at other rite of passage events, whether that's graduation from high school, right, your high school is ending, you have a graduation ceremony, and then you go into college or the working life. Or if it's like a wedding ceremony, you know, your single life is ending. And you're married life is beginning. In both those examples, a graduation ceremony or a wedding ceremony, there's always an entrance ceremony, right? There's all the all the graduates process in or in a wedding, the groomsmen, the groomsmen, the bridesmaid they all possess in. So we included an entrance ceremony in our rite of passage as well. And what that looked like was starting with a prayer, so the group says a prayer, and also reading a passage from Scripture, the story of Moses encountering God in the form of a burning bush. And there's a few reasons why we pick that passage, why it's appropriate. One is that in the passage, he's God says, I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And because this weekend is about, bestowing the title of man from one from one generation on to the next, we thought that was a really appropriate line to include that our God is not just your God, but it's also the God of your fathers. You know, this faith is not just your faith, but it's also the faith of your fathers. So we thought something about that passage just made it made sense for this weekend. The other reason why we pick that passage is because once we go into the cabin, the boy is responsible for lighting a fire in the woodstove and the fire represents the presence of God throughout the weekend, you know, fire in the story, fire in the form of the burning bush is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. And just like in real in, in everyday life, you know, we have this flame of faith, and sometimes that flame is hotter, sometimes it's colder. But what's most important is that that flame, we don't ever allow that flame to, to be extinguished, right. So when we enter into the cabin, we, the boy lights the fire, and then he's responsible for keeping that fire going throughout the entire weekend throughout the two days. And that doesn't necessarily mean that he's the one always putting on wood into the fire and feeding it. He actually is responsible for maintaining it by delegating to the other men. At this time, you need to feed the fire at this time, you need to feed the fire. And that teaches the boy leadership skills, right? I mean, here he is 13 years old, and he's telling these grown men what to do, you know, he's probably never experienced that type of responsibility before. So part of the weekend is giving the boy leadership responsibilities and showing him that as a man, it's not about doing everything yourself. But it's about being part of a team, and sometimes being a leader of that team and taking charge. So that's the first step of the weekend is the entrance ceremony.
Curt Storring 28:39
I actually that is one of my favorite things I read in the entire book was the leadership choices that you were forced to make. It's so profound. You've got all these men now who you always look up to now asking you and looking at you expectantly. And that was like that was maybe for me the most powerful visual of these men waiting expectantly. And there's more in that where like, you had to figure out who's sleeping where you had to figure out like who's cleaning up who's cooking, man? Like, how did you go through that? What was the thought process when you were making those choices? Like, were you worried about it? And like, how has that maybe impacted your ability to lead moving forward?
Steven Arms 29:19
Yeah, I would say as a 13 year old, what I remember is being really caught off guard when they told me that like you need to pick who's going to cook dinner and who's gonna clean up dinner. You're gonna pick who sleeps in which bed, you know, it was like, you know, my grandfather was in his 60s at the time, and it's like, seems like he should have first dibs at whatever bed he wants. Right? But no, they were all looking at me saying you need to decide where people sleep tonight. And so as a 13 year old Yeah, I was nervous. I thought, you know, what if I make the wrong decision, and this person gets mad at me, you know, like, he's still my grandfather. They're still my uncles. You know? I don't I don't know what I would do if they got upset at me. You know, obviously, they didn't, you know, with every decision I made, they just kind of rolled with it. And it worked out for the best. But yeah, I think that's a super important part of the weekend is giving the boy responsibility as a leader at certain times.
Curt Storring 30:21
Yeah. And so you had this ceremony? I mean, I assume that with the ominous surprise, like you don't even know what's going on until you get there basically, is that more or less true?
Steven Arms 30:29
Yeah. Yeah. So the, the men, the men know exactly what's going to happen, you know, they've actually prepared for a lot of these exercises, there's kind of homework that they have to do beforehand. But the boy, as he goes to the weekend, he doesn't know what's coming next. So the weekend itself is a surprise. But also, the rituals inside of it is a surprise for the boy to
Curt Storring 30:52
write. Okay. And yeah, I love the just the illusionist, sort of the planning that goes into it. Because like, I have created this leadership and legacy document, I guess I call it it's almost like a business plan for my life as a father, and a husband. And one of those things is like milestones. And I don't want to miss things like this, even though they're for me three 510 plus years away. I'm writing these things down so that I know, in, you know, whatever year 2024 2025, I need to get a start on talking to the men, getting some letters written booking a cabin doing all these things. And that intentional planning needs to start now, potentially, depending on how old your kids are, but at the very least know what date it needs to start. Because maybe yeah, what maybe we'll take this in a little bit of the planning direction, which will give us some more of those rituals you mentioned. So what does it look like then to plan one of these as the Father? What are your responsibilities? And how do you get the other men to buy in.
Steven Arms 31:54
So you're, you are in a good place, Kurt, because you know about this weekend, your son is 10 years old, so you have roughly three years to prepare, you're in a good place for sure. What preparing for the weekend looks like I would say, the first step is like, even having this idea, this notion of a rite of passage on your radar, you know, most guys don't even know that this is an option, you know. So step one is just finding out about having this concept of a rite of passage. The second step I would say, is identifying the men that you want to invite. We talked about that earlier, you know, what you should be looking for in these guys. And then you have to explain what the weekend is to these guys, why you want to do it, and what's involved in the weekend. And that's a lot of work to do that. So what we decided, you know, our family has been organizing these weekends, for 19 years, it's been this tradition, this beautiful family tradition in our lives. And we've sent, you know, hundreds of emails back and forth within the family to pull these things off. And we realized, you know, we have all this information already put together, why don't we clean this up a bit, and essentially share it with the rest of the world. So on our website, which is milestone to manhood.com, you can go there, and we have five email templates that you just copy and paste. And it explains what a rite of passage weekend is, why you want to do it, and then specifically, how the men can prepare for the weekend. We don't ask for your email address, you know, I know that's kind of a barrier for a lot of guys, they don't want to get spammed. So we thought, you know, let's just make this a copy and paste, you know, obviously, you'll have to put in things like the location that you want to do it, the actual date, the name of the guy, the names of the guys, but we really gave you 80%, your 80% there, if you just go to our website, and copy and paste these emails, it explains everything to your team.
Curt Storring 34:08
And that's amazing. Okay, well, that will be in the show notes Dad.Work slash podcast if you didn't catch that, man, that makes it so easy. It's, I'm just like, Okay, I want to talk about all this and the guys can listen, and then get the book and then go to the website, because it's like, literally all done for you. And maybe we should just like keep going to excite guys about the potential for this because there were a lot of cool things that you guys did at your rite of passage. So I'd like to get a couple more of those rituals from you if you have them and then maybe even know if there are anything that you guys have added since yours that were like oh man, we really should have done this. So yeah, what are some more of those rituals that really stood out to you?
Steven Arms 34:44
For sure. So the first kind of sharing exercise is a discussion of what it means to be a man and this discussion. You know, the whole group sits around in a circle and each guy depending on how many men are there Are you know, if you have four guys or eight guys, you kind of have to adjust the the length that you give each man. But every man is given the opportunity to share with the boy, what it means to him to be a man, and what it means to be a good man, you know. And so these are things like honesty, integrity, respecting women at all times, being a hard worker, the importance of faith in his life, whatever is kind of his core principles, this is his opportunity to share it with the boy. And the men have really tried to tell a story behind why it's so important to them. So like my grandfather, for example. It was really important to him to be cheerful and friendly. He was, he really tried to have a positive attitude all the time. And he would share that one reason for this is because he was a police officer for almost 30 years. And he realized as a police officer, that it's a lot easier to, as it's a lot easier as a police officer, if you can get the person who you're dealing with, on your side, you know, whether that's giving them a smile, or giving them a compliment, just treating them like a human, you know, and instead of being like rough and tough, you know, which, you know, police officers go through a lot. So it makes sense that a lot of cops, you know, kind of get hardened and show that, you know, stoic face, but his approach to life was like, no, if I can be friendly and nice to this person, then I can kind of get them on my side, you know. So that was the men would share kind of their values, and then try to tie in a story or two behind it. And the thinking behind this is, you know, as a 13 year old boy doesn't really have much life experience, if any, you know, real life experience. But the men have a ton of life experience. So anything that can be any wisdom that can be passed down from one generation to the next is as good as gold for this boy, you know, because he has no experience and the men have plenty of it.
Curt Storring 37:21
Awesome. And then so that's like a sharing circle sort of thing. And it's no letters exchanged at that point yet.
Steven Arms 37:27
Correct. That's just a sharing exercise. Later in the weekend, there is the gifting of letters, so every man on the weekend, but also the women in the boy's life, so his mom, his grandmothers, his aunts, or men who aren't there. So you know, like if it's his football coach or his Scoutmaster, you know, who aren't there, but the boy has a relationship with they all right, the boy a letter and this letter, it's kind of open, you can talk about what the boy means to you, you could talk about advice about being a man, you could talk about the importance of faith in your own life. But really, it's meant to kind of be this momento that he can keep for the rest of his life, you know, the, the verbal discussions are good, because you're, you're having those conversations, you're kind of getting deep, you know, but the letters are also good, because he can keep them forever, you know, I still have my letters in a binder. And I read them, you know, once a year, once every two years, and they're really meaningful to me, especially because a couple of my grandparents have passed away since my rite of passage. So, you know, obviously, I can't sit down and have a conversation with them. But I can sit down and read their letters, you know, and that's an incredible gift. So, in the weekend, there is that verbal element of it, but there's also the written element to
Curt Storring 39:01
Okay, awesome. And then the other one that comes to mind that I recall is the, like the what is it the sticks with the ribbons on them? Would you give a quick explanation as to what that one looks like? Because I really love the forced vulnerability of sharing the weakness as well.
Steven Arms 39:17
Yeah. So one of the exercises is called the ribbon ceremony. And in the ribbon ceremony, every man and and the boy goes outside and they get a stick off the ground, you know, maybe two to three feet in length. And on the stick, the men have six ribbons, and all the ribbons, they write three positive character traits, and three negative character traits that they see in themselves. So the positive might be honest, hardworking, and loyal, and the negative might be lustful, greedy and lazy. They're just some examples. And then the men go around and A circle and they share what they wrote down and why they wrote it down, you know, so they're sharing with the group, what they think they're really good at, and they're sharing with the group what they think they need to work on. Once everyone has shared, the boy goes around the room, and he takes he unties, the character traits that he wants to emulate in his own life, he unties them off of the sticks from the men, and he ties them onto his own stick. And this is really meant to be a physical representation that as a man, the other men in our lives have an incredible impact on us, you know, that saying, you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time your most time with. We also have this ability to emulate positive character traits from people that are close to us, you know, my father in law, for example, he's always he's really, he's a words of affirmation person, you know, he's always complimenting my wife is his daughter about how beautiful she is how smart she is, he's just a words of affirmation person. And that's something that I have tried to emulate from him, you know, I see how he can speak life into these people and encourage people, you know, and it's like, Man, I want to be like that, you know, so I see him doing that. And I'm like, Yeah, I want to emulate that in my own life. So the ribbon ceremony is really good at a physical representation of how we can do that as men. And then I was gonna say, so that the men of the group, ideally are left with sticks full of all their negative character traits. And the purpose of that is to show the boy that, you know, no man is perfect, and that we all have parts about ourselves that we don't necessarily necessarily like, and that we all are on this journey, to become the best versions of ourselves, you know, and it's not about pointing out the flaws in your son, you know, the boy too, has character traits that are negative. But what, what the ribbon ceremony does well, is that it shows the boy that we all have these character flaws, and that it's up to us. To fix them, no one's gonna fix it for us, you know. So what the men do is they take those ribbons, they untie it from their sticks, and they actually place them in the fire that the boy had lit at the beginning of the weekend, which represents one, their desire to burn away their defects, right, they are committed, as a group of men to support one another in improving themselves to, you know, as a family that is, as a family of faith as a family, that is, practices, our Christian faith. The fire represents God. And so putting the ribbons in the fire shows not our own self reliance to do this, but our reliance upon God to help us become better versions of ourselves.
Curt Storring 43:16
Man, there's so many facets to that it's so good, so meaningful. And, man, these are some of the things that I go like, you could do these with other men, you could sit down and like Nevermind the rite of passage like container, you could just do this as a group of intentional men as a men's group or something like that a fellowship group. And then there's so much to all of that. I can only imagine the impact on a child. And one thing that you mentioned that brought this to mind when the other most important parts that I took away, even though it's like a passing line in the book, was that you must not be focused on your son's negative aspect. It's not about, hey, you know, son, you'll be a good man, when you stop doing this. It's like all positivity. And I wonder if you want to talk very briefly about that. And affirmation?
Steven Arms 44:02
Yeah, I would say, you know, it kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier, that you're really trying to give them the boy a template on how to improve himself, how to see his own negative character traits, so that he can fix himself. You know, the truth is, is that as fathers, you know, ideally, we outlive our sons, you know, and that means one day, they won't have us there, you know, so, if, if you feel like it's your responsibility to fix your son, well, you're not going to be there all the time. You know, so it's not your job to fix your son. It's your job to teach your son how he can fix himself.
Curt Storring 44:42
Well said, I love that. That's definitely going that's one of the clips man. That's a good book. Is that some it's yeah, that like, I've never quite thought about it like that. And I want my kids to be independent in like, actually, I had a man named Ken curry on the podcast recently. And he was talking about how beyond protecting Providing he thinks the most important thing that a man can give his son is self identity, which is being internally referenced. And God really referenced rather than externally referenced like, Oh, what is everyone else want of me. And that includes affirmation, and saying, you know, you might feel bad sometimes you might think you're bad. Sometimes you're not actually, you know, a POS or whatever it is, like, you are good. And I love you, regardless of these defects or sins or whatever. And to be the shame killing voice in his head. Yeah. And that's, that's difficult for me, man. Because I go to correction, just being quite honest, I got a correction much more than I do. shepherding a lot of times, but to hear it reflected like this, it's like, oh, man, every time I correct I'm, I'm stopping him from learning the skill of self development. Oh, man, that that lands?
Steven Arms 45:50
Yeah, I mean, you know, as Christian dads, you know, God is. He's perfect mercy, and he's perfect justice. You know, there's kind of those two hands of God. And as fathers, we are really reflections of God in our sons lives, you know. And so that means, sometimes we need to be merciful, and sometimes, which is that kind of, you know, affirming your son and loving him, you know, and then sometimes we need to be just, you know, which is disciplining your son and telling him, You were wrong here, you know, and there's gonna be consequences for your actions. So I think that's the balance that every father needs to figure out, you know, is what is that balance between mercy and justice?
Curt Storring 46:33
Absolutely, man that has been continually on my mind. And I think it will be forever, because it's, it's not, I'm not going to be perfect at it ever. And yet, I will strive to find that perfect balance. Because anything else is not giving my all and not being the father that I want to be and not striving to be, like my heavenly Father. And that is so good to keep that in mind. Because it takes discernment. And for me, in my life, I have found that mature masculinity is basically just discernment. You get to sit in the middle, and you get to, as each opportunity arises, decide, am I going to do one side? Am I going to the other? What's the right, you know, portion of each? What's the right ratio? And then to take action from that place of intention, rather than just flailing all over with drift or inertia or whatever? Yeah, and that's, I'm curious, like, we can go back into the, like, the rituals and stuff if you want it, there's more to add to that. But I'm curious how you are now thinking about this as a father of a son. And I know there is having read the book, like a female version of this as well. But just talking about fathers and sons right now, what has come to mind for your son? Is this just like a no brainer? Like, oh, yeah, of course, we're gonna do that it's gonna be fine. Like, can't wait to do it? Or is it? Like, is it different now being on the other side, where you are about to be preparing in the next, you know, 10, whatever years for your own son?
Steven Arms 47:55
Yeah, that's a good question. You know, my son is one year old right now. So I have 12 years until we crossed that bridge. Right now, I would say, I don't think I'm gonna really change the weekend at all. Like, you know, like I said, our family has been doing this for 19 years, we had six boys go through this weekend. And then I think seven girls go through the weekend. So we've kind of, you know, reiterated it every weekend, got it to this place where it's a pretty smooth process, you know, so I don't think that I'm really going to touch the weekend, as far as like, the different rituals or what we do. Obviously, there will be different guys on the weekend, you know, my dad, my father in law, my brother's you know, hopefully, all those guys will still be around to attend my son's rite of passage weekend. So the weekend will be different because it will have different men in it. But I think part of it too, is like being able to read your son, you know, and again, my son is one year old. So there's a lot that I still have to learn about him and as he develops which I'm really looking forward to, but every boy is different. And I think that you can kind of read your boy and maybe adjust the rite of passage depending on his personality. And our weekend, you know, we before the weekend actually starts we would always engage in kind of a fun icebreaker opportunity. So for me that was before the weekend started we went fishing on the lake you know, just the guys fishing for a couple hours. You know, my uncle's I didn't see them all the time. So this was just an opportunity to spend quality time with the guys before delving into these kind of deeper discussions. But, you know, other boys that we held the weekend for, they weren't quite as like adventurous, you know, like, fishing for them was like they just wouldn't have have enjoyed it, you know. So for one of them, we went to a we went to a go karting place as kind of our fun icebreaker as a group. Another icebreaker that we did was rappelling, so down into a cavern, like basically the opposite of rock climbing, you know, going down instead of going up. So I would say that there's different because every boy's personality is different. You can kind of adjust the weekend depending on your son.
Curt Storring 50:32
Okay, so you got the icebreaker at the beginning. Does he know at that point, what's going on?
Steven Arms 50:37
No, even though well, so he knows that the weekend is going to be his rite of passage, he knows that. It's not just him and his dad, but all the men are together for this special weekend. So at that point, the cat is out of the bag that he's going to have a rite of passage, he just doesn't know. Like, what what exactly does this week is this weekend going to look like? And right, that's really an opportunity for the dad to say, like, just trust the process, it's going to be an amazing weekend, have fun with the guys, you know, this is something that's gonna be really special for you.
Curt Storring 51:10
Yeah, and you guys also cap it with an actual party too. So it's not all like, you know, you're a man now, son, you get no more birthday parties, you get no more cake, no more nothing, like, get to work. So I like that as well. Because like, you start off with icebreakers makes a ton of sense, loosen, loosen everyone up, do the really intense weekend, and then finish with this party where everyone's there. But he's coming back different. And he gets to reengage in the family. But as a man now, while still having this fun party. Is there anything else to add to that?
Steven Arms 51:44
Yeah, I would say that, you know, when you look at other examples of rites of passages around the world, whether that's the Jewish Bar Mitzvah, or in Australia, the Aboriginal society has the walkabout rite of passage, and every rite of passage that you see, there's this element of separation, the boy is separated from the group, there's this challenge. And then there's the reincorporation back into society, you know, and I've never been to Bar Mitzvah myself, but I've heard that those parties afterwards can get pretty wild, you know, like, they're these really joyful celebrations. You know, I heard that there's kind of this, this loose tradition, where they'll put the boy on a chair, and they'll like, literally raise the boy, the men will literally raise the boy on a chair above their heads, you know, showing like, his position in life has gone up, right, he's ascended from boy to man, that and the men are lifting him up. So every other rite of passage around the world has this kind of celebration aspect to it. And we wanted to include that in our weekend as well. So after the whole weekend, there's just kind of a regular birthday party for the boy, you know, pizza, cake and soda pop.
Curt Storring 53:06
Amazing. All right, man. The two things I want to make sure we cover so I'm gonna go into it. If we have more time. After that, we'll get into more stuff as well. The two things are, was there. And what did it look like? If there were discussions before and after about manhood and masculinity? And then the the second thing is basically, like, what changed? When you go back? What did it mean? What did it look like to be a man? So let's start with like, did your dad sit down with you? And when you were like, 10 and be like, Well, son, you know, here's what I think about being a man. Did he show it? Did he tell it like, was there any intentional conversation beforehand? And then we can go to after as well?
Steven Arms 53:45
You know, I, I don't remember there being intentional conversation. Definitely not to the same level as this weekend. I'm sure that growing up my dad made comments about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a good person, you know, the difference between right and wrong? Absolutely. My dad was having those conversations, none to the level of what this rite of passage is. And what I mean by that is like, specific intentionality of like sitting down and doing sharing exercises. I don't remember ever doing that with my dad before this weekend. I do remember and maybe this is worth saying, but this weekend, this 13 year old rite of passage weekend is not the birds and the bees talk. I if I remember correctly, I think I had that talk with my dad around 10 years old, you know, so this weekend, and that conversation can be it can kind of rock the boat for the boy right? It can kind of stir up some emotions in him, you know? So this weekend is not supposed to be the birds and the bees talk. They should be two separate things. I think that might be worth throwing out there and then but I would say you know before the week And, really, it's, it's most important just to show through your actions, what it means to be a good man to your son, right? If you go on this weekend, and you're having all these conversations about what it means to be a good man, but for the last 13 years, you as a father haven't been that example, then your words are going to fall on deaf ears, because you have to back up your words with your actions. You can't be a hypocrite when you're saying all this stuff. So in one way, the best way to prepare for the weekend is just to be that example that you're going to talk about to your son.
Curt Storring 55:36
I literally had that as one of the things I wanted to talk about. So I'm glad you touched on that, because it does mention that many of the men aren't even confident their own masculinity today. And it's so important to be that good man, which is why I'm doing this work in the first place, which is like, Guys, we have to become a better man, before we can become a better husband, which leads us to becoming a better father, like all of these things have to start with you. Whether you like it or not, you are like you said before, the only person who can and who is responsible for changing to be that excellent father, an excellent man that you want your son, hopefully to become one day. And if you don't want your son to become who you are today, man, it's time to make some changes. What about afterwards? Like, I guess both of these questions are the same. Then after you come back. Anything change? You're just like, Okay, I'm a man. Now. I guess that's cool. Like, what was it fit? What did it actually look like? And were there follow up conversations along the way.
Steven Arms 56:33
So there was one follow up conversation. Maybe like two weeks to a month after the weekend. One of the men would take the the new man no longer by the new man, he would take him out to lunch and just kind of talk about the weekend. Follow up if he, you know, had any more questions, or if there was anything that just wasn't sitting right with him. But also ask that 13 year old man, you know, how would you change the weekend? Like, what was? What was your favorite part of what was your least favorite part. And really, that was how we, as a family, were able to improve the weekend from one from one rite of passage to the next is just getting that feedback from the boy. So that was one of the purposes of having that lunch after. And then as far as like being treated as a man in the family, I would say that, you know, definitely, you know, the boy, while I said the boy, but this 13 year old man, even though he is considered to be a man, that it's still a process, right? Like, as a 13 year old, after the weekend, my dad did not kick me out of the house, say I have to get my own job, get my own apartment, go drive a car, right? Like that stuff came later, you know, becoming a man. It doesn't happen overnight. Right? My even though my dad and my grandfather told me, You are a man now. And I was formally given that title, it was still something I had to grow into. So my, my parents, you know, would increase our responsibilities growing up, you know, I think 13 year old, I, my brothers and I were finally physically at the size where we could push her under lawn mower. So mowing the lawn became one of our responsibilities. Later, it was like doing your own laundry, so that when we got off to college, the whole concept of laundry wasn't a foreign wasn't foreign to us. When we got our driver's license, like changing our own oil, so things like that, you know, additional responsibility, I would say, One really cool thing in, in our family that we did after the weekend was so at the family holidays, you know, they were pretty big gatherings. Maybe maybe 30 to 35 people, depending on who was in attendance. But you know, there were always a kid, there was always a kid's table and adults table right? In after the weekend, the the new man would kind of graduate from the kids table and he wouldn't be allowed to sit at the adults table during the holidays, and engage in whatever the adults were talking about instead of whatever the kids were talking about. So that was one really cool way to be like another physical like, if it's not clear to you already, like here's another way that like our family is showing you you're no longer a kid you are a man or a woman, but you're actually sitting with us.
Curt Storring 59:47
That's awesome. And I love that physical reminder. i Okay, I need to be respectful of time but there's so much more to be said which funny enough you guys have a book talking about all this. You have a website. Is there anything Alice, do you want to touch on before we leave? Or should we just send people to where they can find more about you?
Steven Arms 1:00:07
You know, it's kind of a final comment, I would say that it's every man's responsibility at some point in his life, at some point in your son's life, to tell your son, that you no longer consider him to be a boy. But you consider him to be a man. I think if every father in this country told his son that at the appropriate age, then this country, this, this world, would be a much better place, because boys would not feel the need to prove it to themselves, right. The way that the the culture that society without father telling him that he's a man, the way that the culture will provide that rite of passage is things like the sexual conquest of women, right? She made me a man, pornography, video game addictions, like video games, you know, and a lot of them you can like literally slay a dragon that totally feeds into that masculine soul. joining a gang and violence, those are all ways that if a boy is never told that he's a man, he's going to engage in some of these activities to try to prove it to himself, that he to prove to himself that he has what it takes. So I would say that it's, it's every, every father's responsibility to tell his son that at some point. And then the other thing is that if you are a father listening to this, and you're kind of on the fence, like, I don't know, if I can do this, I would say, for one, you know, you're not doing this for yourself, you're doing this for your son, this is a very selfless cause. And to, you're not going to do it alone, you're going to do it with other men that are going to support you in this endeavor, all the way is not going to fall on your shoulders. And I would say, finally, you know, we have so many good resources for free on our website that we've really done. Like I said, at least half the work for you, you know, it's all up there, you just kind of need to follow the steps. And once you have your first rite of passage, I think they'll all go smoothly after that.
Curt Storring 1:02:21
Man, thank you for all of that. Very well said. And can you give us that website? One more time, please?
Steven Arms 1:02:26
Sure. Yeah, our website is milestone to manhood.com. And that's where you can copy and paste those email templates. It's also a place where you can grab a copy of our book.
Curt Storring 1:02:38
Nice. Is there anywhere else? You guys are active, you do social or anything like that? Or is this just the book and the the website?
Steven Arms 1:02:44
Just the book and the website? Yeah, social media. It's, it can be great. But it can also be a curse, too, you know?
Curt Storring 1:02:51
Yeah. So I actually I love that. Because so many of these things like I get, I get emails all the time from people looking at pitch their author or whatever. And it's like, oh, he's got this, and he can talk about this. And he's got this social and this the website and this challenge. It's like, you guys just have the book because you're like, This is important. So I actually see that as more was more trustworthy, to be honest. Because you know, and honestly, if you went the route of building this into a business 100% will be on board, because it's awesome. I read the book, I appreciate the book. I appreciate you doing this, because I 100% agree that if all the men out there weren't running around trying to fill that sort of father size man sized hole in their life, they wouldn't be doing the risk behaviors, there would be fewer of the, in my opinion, the guys who get into politics are typically looking for that affirmation that Oh, I am a man I have power. And having worked with many, many people in that space earlier on in my career. I think that's just sad and true is that there's a lot of grown up boys. Not a lot of good men. Stop man. Thank you for doing this work. And thank you for coming on and sharing this with us guys go pick up milestone to manhood. We'll send all those links on Dad.Work slash podcast, which is where you get the show notes. And Steven man, thank you again so much for being on.
Steven Arms 1:04:07
Thanks for having me. It's been an honor to be on your show.
Curt Storring 1:04:13
Thank you for listening to the data work podcast. That's it for this episode. But if you would like to stay in touch between weekly episodes, why don't you go over to Instagram and follow me there because I drop a number of things throughout the week that are related to what we talked about on this podcast but usually go a little bit deeper provide some tips you can find me on Instagram at dad work dot Kurt that's da d w o RK dot c u r t. And please if you have been getting something out of this podcast if it has touched you if it has improved your marriage or parenting or your life, would you please leave a quick review on Apple or Spotify. leave a rating if you have a few extra seconds leave a quick review. That's the best way that we can get this work in the hands of more fathers. And I truly believe that we change the world. One father at a time you because each father that parents better that loves better raises children who do the same. And in just a couple of generations, I feel like we could be living in a world much better than the one we live in today. Your review will help along that path. And I thank you so much for being here to listen until next week. We'll see you then.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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