The biggest crisis of our time does not revolve around the economy, healthcare, or vocations - it is an identity crisis. We have forgotten our story. We don’t know who we are, why we are here, or where we are going. The result of this identity crisis is an endless pursuit of self—gratification and an ever—present feeling that our lives lack purpose or meaning. This is especially true for men. Not only are many men confused about their life's purpose, they are confused about how to properly integrate masculinity into their life.
Psychologists talk about the “father wound.” The number one predictor for crime and poverty is fatherless households. I would propose the reason that we have a crisis of identity and a crisis of masculinity is also a result of this “father wound” — we have a generation of fatherless sons. I’m not just talking about dads being physically absent, which occurs in roughly 33% of families in America today. I’m also talking about the dad who has handed over his responsibility to be the leader in his family by surrendering to screens, his children’s peers, and to the pressures of a confused culture that is telling him to stand aside. The world is in desperate need of strong, courageous, and chivalrous men.
The thing about chivalrous men is that they aren’t born - they are forged. Men learn virtue by witnessing it in another man, and then modeling their behavior. This witnessing and modeling starts in the home - it starts with dad. If we are ever going to break the father wound cycle, then fathers need to reclaim their rightful duty.
My wife and I have four daughters and one son. My son is surrounded by girls. Like all fathers, I have a unique obligation to teach my son what it means to be a man and to help him form his identity as a man. For this reason, I wanted to do a Rite of Passage event for him when he became a teenager. I wanted to show him that I, his father, no longer see him as a boy, but consider him a man, and that he should consider himself a man now as well. But like most fathers, my life is filled with the pressures of running a business and raising a family. I struggled to find the time, place, and atmosphere to give my son a proper Rite of Passage into manhood and I feared that I would never actually make it happen for him. I knew it was extremely important for me to do this for my son, but I was feeling overwhelmed with not knowing what I should do and how I should do it.
That is why I am so grateful to have come across this book. Milestone to Manhood lays out a time-tested formula that gave me the motivation, confidence, and tools necessary to make a Rite of Passage happen for my son. Following the Milestone to Manhood formula, I rented a cabin for a weekend and invited my three brothers and a close family friend who has been like a big brother for my son to attend the event. The particular weekend that we held my son’s Rite of Passage had special meaning for me, as it was on the 15th anniversary of my father’s death. He died three months before my son was born, so spending the weekend with my son and brothers had extra significance for me.
The authors suggest giving your son a family heirloom during the Rite of Passage. I decided to give my son the wooden cross that I have worn around my neck since I was 10 years old. It has been with me through my entire adult life, and my son has seen me wear this cross ever since he was an infant. When I gave him this cross, I felt as if I was “passing the baton” to the next generation. My son loves whittling, so I tasked him with carving me a new cross to wear. I plan on wearing this new cross for the rest of my life.
Because of the rituals and activities that you will learn about in this book, the weekend was an experience that my son and I will never forget. It was exactly the type of experience that I wanted to give to him. I know it had a profound impact on his confidence in who he is and who God is calling him to be as a man of faith.
Fathers are the solution to today’s masculinity crisis. Boys need to know not only that their father loves them, but that he is proud of them and is willing to invest time into teaching them the measure of a man. David and Steven Arms have perfected the Rite of Passage through generations of trial and error, and have graciously shared their formula with all of us. I am grateful to David and Steven for giving me the confidence and blueprint I needed to organize a Rite of Passage weekend for my son. I highly recommend that every father does a Rite of Passage for his teenage son. This book is a great guide to make this idea a reality.
John R. Wood
Author of Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Mission: 5 Steps to Winning the War Within
About John Wood:
Dr. John R. Wood is the author of three books, including “Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Mission: 5 Steps to Winning the War Within,” which has over 240,000 copies distributed to date. Since the release of the book in December 2012, he has spoken at more than 100 parishes and schools across the country to people of all ages, inspiring thousands to embrace the message of the Universal Call to Holiness and help reawaken the sleeping giant called the Catholic Church. John is the President of the non-profit organization “Extraordinary Mission” and is an eye doctor who provides mobile eye care to over 40 nursing homes and developmental disability facilities through his business, Mobile Eyes, which he started in 2007. John, with his wife Kristin and their five children were finalists in the 2021 OSV Innovation Challenge for their new 2nd Grade Sacramental Family Retreat called “Dragon Slayers” as one of the best new innovative ideas in the country.
To find out more about John and his work, visit his website extraordinarymission.com