Everyone has seen the movie or the play, Peter Pan. What we see is a boy who, for whatever reason, has decided that he never wants to grow up, that he wants to shirk his responsibility and stay in Neverland while he jokes, plays, and engages in practical jokes on the Hook. We realize this is a fictional work, but if we look around in society, it’s not really all that far off from what we see in a lot of men.
I’ll give you a prime example. Just the other day, there was a piece I read about a 30-year old man who had taken his parents to court because his parents were “evicting” him from their house. How pathetic is this? Maybe there’s something wrong with this guy (obviously there’s something wrong with this guy). But it’s amazing that his thought process is to fight so hard to stay at home. I can’t help, but there’s something seriously wrong with him. But in addition to that, I can’t help but think there’s something wrong with the parents. How was this guy raised? How was he fathered?
When I was done with high school, we went on our senior trip. The day I got home – the very next day – I moved out. It wasn’t’ because I had anything against my mother but because it was time. It was time to leave the nest. I see so many boys who are more concerned with staying at home than experiencing life. They’re more concerned with not having bills and upholding their responsibilities. They’re more concerned with Call of Duty or Fortnite (or whatever the game is that they’re playing). They’re shirking their responsibilities. They don’t have jobs. And, their parents are enabling them to actually do this. And we question why we’re having problems with our boys turning into men. This is the failure to launch syndrome – the rise of the Peter Pans.
The good news is that there are some solutions to this. If you find yourself in a position where you’re a boy or a male who wants to grow up but can’t figure out how to do it, this article will provide the solution. I see so many men who use the excuse of not having a father figure in their life to justify their lack of performance as men. I can’t believe that it needs to be addressed, but it certainly does. So, let’s talk about this today.
If you’re experiencing this and you’re nervous about launching, I’m going to share some ideas. But, I’m also going share some insights for those of us who are fathers – someone who is responsible for raising up boys in a way where they want to go out into society and produce, as opposed to consuming. And that’s the difference between a boy and a man. A boy consumes. That’s all he does. Sure, men can consume as well, but they also produce. And hopefully, they are producing significantly more than they consume. You can see if that’s not the case, that we’d have a real problem.
For example, I look at my boys and daughter. They consume resources. That’s not bad, that’s what they do. My goal as a parent, however, is to help them stand on their own two feet. Too many parents these days are doing everything for their children thinking that somehow they’re giving their children a leg up when they do everything for them. They’re not. They’re crippling their children. They’re hindering their ability to learn and to develop the strength they need in order to be successful.
Take an infant for example: if you carry that infant everywhere, that child will never develop the physical leg strength to be able to walk. The same holds true when it comes to their mental and emotional capacity as well. We can plainly see boys and girls who may have developed physically, but mentally and emotionally, are a complete wreck because they’ve never had to engage and develop any sort of fortitude and/or grit.
Growing Up is Not Bad
We have got to understand that growing up is not a bad thing. So many people believe that, if they grow up they’ll have too many burdens, responsibilities, issues, struggles, trials, and challenges. Yes, that is true. You will have those things, but there are also so many blessings that come from those situations.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve met my wife, brought children into this world, started businesses, been on some amazing vacations, and had numerous wonderful experiences. It’s incredible. In order to have meaningful and significant experiences in your life, you are going to have to experience some hardships. That’s part of the deal. You cannot have one without the other. And anytime an individual tries to get something for nothing, they rob themselves of developing their talents, gifts, and abilities.
Growing up and accepting responsibility and accountability for your own life is not a bad thing. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a great thing. There are so many benefits and rewards that come from taking responsibility for your life.
No One Owes You Anything
Nobody is here to serve you and be at your beck and call. Nobody is here to give you everything that you think you deserve. There’s no family member, no business, no government entity, no non-profit organization that owes you a thing.
So many people believe that they are entitled to something simply because they’re a human being, simply because air is coursing through their lungs. I got news for you, if that’s what you believe, you are significantly playing at a degree less than you are capable of. When you realize that nobody owes you a thing and, you fully internalize that, you give yourself the power to earn everything you desire.
You deserve everything you currently you have. If you have wealth, abundance, and prosperity in your life, you deserve that. If you don’t, it’s because you deserve that level of wealth, or prosperity, or abundance, or lack thereof.
Now, some people hear that and think, “Well, what about people who can’t? And, what about those who are disabled?” I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about those who are fully capable of providing their own way.
Again, you are not entitled to anything. But, that’s okay. Because once you accept responsibility, you can go out and earn it, which is significantly more rewarding.
Spend More Time with Men, Not Boys
If you’re telling yourself, “I just don’t know how to step up as a man,” you need to stop spending time with boys. Find a way to spend time with men. If you surround yourself with people who don’t take accountability and responsibility for their life, I’d have you consider that’s probably the way you’re going to turn out as well. You are going to be just like that.
Now, on the other hand, if you find men to surround yourself with (co-workers, colleagues, friends, parents, brothers, and people who are doing big things in their life) that will inevitably wear off on you. You will strive to be more like those individuals.
If you strive to spend time with genuine men, you’re going to find people who lift you up, motivate you, inspire you, and give you a kick in the pants that you need. You’re going rise up to the challenge.
Don’t look for the easy path. Don’t look for the path of least resistance. That’s what boys do. Men, however, know life is a challenge. They rise to that challenge because they’ve realized the rewards and the benefits on the other side of that trial and obstacle are well worth the effort.
Find Meaningful Purpose
It’s not enough to have trivial pursuits in your life. What’s really driving you? What’s really motivating you? How big and audacious are those goals? If you don’t have goals or something significant to pursue, it’s likely you’re not going to rise up and become the man that you were meant to be and you’re going to play at a level far less than you’re capable of. If there’s nothing pushing and pulling you, driving and motivating you, sit down and figure out exactly what you want. You don’t have to have this completely figured out and it’s likely going to change over time so be patient with yourself.
If ask you, “What do you want,” and you can’t answer that question, there’s a real problem but, if I ask you, “What is it that you want out of life,” and you can look me in the eye and say, “this is exactly what I want. Here is the job I want to have. Here are the experiences I want to pursue. Here are the changes I want to make,” you’re well on your way to becoming a man.
Now, let’s talk about the second component I wanted to address: us as father figures. It’s not just dads I’m talking about, but community leaders, mentors, business owners, employers, etc. We have a responsibility to raise the next generation. We’re going to ask that they lead us at some point. We ought to make sure we’re adequately preparing them to lead.
Do Not Allow Our Children to be Raised by Women Exclusively
Women bring something wonderful to the environment. My wife does an amazing job in fulfilling her responsibilities as a mother. She is compassionate, empathetic, supportive, and loving. I’m not suggesting men can’t exhibit those traits as well but women are uniquely equipped to thrive in those ways. And, that’s much needed in society.
But, if you look at the rate of fatherless homes and you look at the rate of female versus male school teachers, it’s very apparent that a large percentage of our population is being raised in the home and in the school system without a male figure in their life.
Boys Need to be Challenged
Why is that a problem? Among other reasons, these boys are not being challenged. They’re not being pushed. They’re not standing face-to-face with another man who is pushing him, who’s driving him to be better, who’s course-correcting along the way.
We recognize this in the very soft, effeminate trend in our boys who are not rising up to the challenge of being a man. That statement is going to fire a lot of people up. I’m not discounting at all what women bring into a loving household and into society in general. What I am saying is that both the masculine and the feminine energy are needed. If all these boys are receiving is feminine energy, I don’t think it should be any surprise that they don’t learn how to be men.
My mother raised me primarily on her own. But, if you were to ask her if she equipped to give me everything I needed as a boy learning how to be a man, she would be the first to tell you that she did not. She was not equipped with everything she needed which is why she got me involved in competitive sports. I needed a physical, mental, emotional challenge. I needed other men to stand with. I needed to disciplined by other men. I needed to be course-corrected by other men who weren’t afraid to have those challenging conversations, get in my face, and tell me when I was doing wrong and when I was doing right.
There Must be Consequences
Please understand me. There has to be consequences for our decisions, both positive and negative. When our children make good decisions, we should reward them. I’m not saying gift them things. I’m saying we encourage them with a simple comment or a compliment. Every time a child does something good, works hard, exhibits discipline, shows commitment, overcomes a trial, or does something above and beyond what they are called to do, we ought to encourage that.
When a child does something wrong, gets into trouble, and doesn’t do what he or she is supposed to do, then we as parents have to, at times, be the deliverer of the consequences. That’s not fun. Nobody wants to do that. Nobody wants to see their child suffer. I don’t want to see my boys and my little girl go through challenges. But, I would rather have them go through these types of challenges in a controlled environment under my watchful eye than run loose and do who knows what without any consequences or thought about the future and how it might impact them.
That is my job as a father: to introduce struggle, challenge, adversity, and trials. And, equip my children with the tools to be able to handle those obstacles. These factors, when not present in the home or young men’s lives, create the kind of situation where a 30-year-old man can go to court and sue his parents because they’re kicking him out of the house.
It’s a very small symptom of the underlying problem that is the rise of the Peter Pans in society. We have to reverse this trend. How do we do it? First and foremost, we stop living this way ourselves. We take responsibility. When there’s an opportunity at work, we step up to the opportunity. We take on the trial. We take on the task. We don’t shirk our responsibilities. We don’t take the path of least resistance. We do the hard things because we realize, although it’s hard, there are benefits on the other side of that difficult challenge and adversity.
Second, we instill the same thing in our boys. We don’t coddle them. We don’t protect them. We don’t shelter them unnecessarily. We allow them to be introduced to challenge, trial, adversity, and struggle. We teach them what it means to have a significant purpose in their lives. We help them deal with the consequences of their decisions so, when we look back and ask if we did a good job as a father, we can see our boys and girls standing on their own two feet doing what they should be doing as functioning and contributing members of society.
I wish the answers were easy. They’re certainly not. It’s hard to articulate everything that should and can be done in a simple blog post but I firmly believe that this is the beginning of the solution to the rise of the Peter Pans.
Do not allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that the path of least resistance is the path that we are destined to take as men. It’s not. We should be looking for the harder path – the more challenging path. Afterall, the view on the other side of that is significantly more rewarding than playing it safe and taking it easy.