How Does A Teenage Boy Become The Man He Wants To Be?

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What does it take to create a space where another person — an adult man or a teenage boy — can dig deep and speak their truth without fear of judgment, analysis or being “told what to do?” What does it mean to really be there for and with a teenage boy that invites him to discover and become the man he wants to be?

The Boys to Men Mentoring Network, which offers group mentoring programs for boys ages 12 to 17, has devised a simple yet elegant communication model that is at the heart of the mentoring relationship. Mentors and teens are taught to communicate consciously, using a model called LAAMB, which is short for listen, accept, admire, model and bless. This model is in direct contrast to the FRAP style of relating that many men are socialized to do: fixing, rescuing, advising (unsolicited), and projecting.

Because men are often taught they need to “have the answer” or “solve the problem,” it may be hard to just sit and listen to a teenage boy speak about his experience, especially when some of his choices or decisions are problematic. Yet when a man feels a need to give unsolicited advice, tell the boy what to do, or respond from his own discomfort with the boy’s path through life, he inadvertently clips the boy’s wings.

By giving a boy the space to share his experience authentically, without judgment or interruption, looking for positive behaviors or actions that he can appreciate, and giving advice or feedback only when asked, a mentor shows his faith in a boy’s innate ability to find his way and access resources when needed. The mentor may also model a kind of humility that is also important for a young man to experience.

There is so much pressure to know, to be able to fix and to be able to figure things out. To see that we don’t always know, can’t always fix and don’t need to always figure things out offers a healthy balance. Even more importantly, these kinds of solutions are not even what is needed some of the time. Being truly heard and seen can be a very powerful gift.

A beautiful feature of the LAAMB communication model is that once you understand the principles, it can be done without great effort. Men can mentor through how they be with a teen, rather than just through what they do. Many men are afraid to mentor teens for fear that they won’t know what to do. This may prevent them from showing up and mentoring boys who need their presence and connection.

While an entire course could be given on all the elements of LAAMB and FRAP, understanding these important principles provides a way to create safety and trust in any relationship.

Linda Marks is Board Co-Chair of Boys to Men New England. A single mom, Linda found BTMNE 6 years ago as a resource for her then 12-year old son. Contact Linda at 617-913-0683 or lsmheart@aol.com.

Boys to Men New England 3rd Annual Benefit Concert

Scullers Jazz Club

Sunday, April 13, 5 – 7:30pm

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left to right: Godfather of folk, Geoff Bartley, with Howie Tarnower; Marcela Cruz; Victor Martinez and Carlos Cordero, keynotes and founders of BTM Lawrence

This amazing concert features wonderful musicians of all ages, including the grand ambassador of folk music, Geoff Bartley with Howie Tarnower, dynamic jazz chanteuse with heart Tracy Clark, teen brothers Nick Scott and Adrian Scott, father-son duo who embody the spirit of mentoring, Jesse Liam and Jack Gauthier, 16-year old saxophone phenomenon Sarah Hanahan, Boys to Men mentor Ed Martinez, and up and coming singer sensation Marcela Cruz among others.

Mass Mentoring Partnership Executive Director Marty Martinez will keynote speak on the concert theme of “Building Community Through Mentoring.” Victor Martinez and Carlos Cordero, the visionary leaders of Lawrence Boys to Men program will also keynote speak.

Bonnie Johnson from WICN will be the event emcee.

All proceeds benefit Boys to Men New England, a 501c3 non-profit organization that builds adult-teen group mentoring programs.

General admission tickets are $75 and can be purchased through: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/ 535928.

Corporate sponsorship and donations of any level are welcomed. Checks payable to BTMNE can be sent to BTMNE c/o Linda Marks, 3 Central Avenue, Newton, MA 02460.

Learn more about Boys to Men New England at www.boystomennewengland.nationbuilder.com