A couple of years ago I took my almost-10 year old son on a special trip – I was hoping to recreate a fun rite of passage my dad did for me at about the same age. I was speaking at an event in Dallas (the D6 Conference) and I paid for my son to join me on the trip. He was eager to go and miss a few days of school. But the big excitement was that after my responsibilities at the youth ministry training event were over … we were going to do dude stuff:

Dude stuff like eating nothing but baby back ribs, chicken wings and anything else we could straight off the bone for one whole day. This was the origin of “all you can meat” – a tradition I’m hoping to pass on to men worldwide. Dude stuff like talking about girls, respect, integrity and sex. Dude stuff like watching UFC and going to a late night movie. Dude stuff like a Cowboys game on a Sunday Night (cue Faith Hill right about this point). Dude stuff like all-u-can-play arcade games and go karts. Dude stuff like a dad talking to his son about what is really important in life and all that stuff that dads don’t normally have the guts to say or make the time to say it. Dude stuff, for 4 days straight.

This Saturday I leave with my second-born son! We’re headed to Dallas to speak at the same conference in the same city. He has been buzzing about it for months. It is going to be epic. I’m excited to share with him God’s plan for his masculinity, sexuality and leadership. He is going to be a great man. He is going to far eclipse his old man. And this is one small piece of making sure he knows the path I pray every day he’ll stay on.

I talk about this rite of passage all of the time with people – it seems to come up often and quite honestly I don’t do everything right as a dad … but think this is one of those things that is easily transferrable to other dads, too, and an important memory we’ll both hold for years to come. Here’s a few more details in case you want to dig into a trip of your own:

  • preparing_for_adolescenceWe set a budget for the trip, then plan together what gets spent where. Helps him learn how to handle money and do some logistics, and also helps him really enjoy whatever he chooses. In this case we found an average hotel with free parking so we could spend more money on food. This kid is just like his father.
  • We use the curriculum Preparing for Adolescence by Dr. James Dobson. It has served us well – we did the audio CD’s and workbook, and used most of it for a springboard for our own conversations, too.
  • After the trip, my sons get to enjoy some newfound benefits: he gets their own Axe Apollo deodorant, his own Surf Gel, can play T-rated videogames and we play through the Halo series on Xbox (with his dad for continued bonding time) on co-op on Saturday after HSM services.
  • We watch their first PG-13 movie on this trip as well, something like Transformers, Avengers or Star Trek. It is a BIG deal to them since we’re very strict on what they watch!
  • This isn’t our only conversation about sex – this isn’t THE TALK … it is ONE of the talks, definitely a key one, but one of many we’ll have as he grows up. My wife is a nurse and hasn’t been afraid to talk about everything by it’s proper name since day one anyhow. Ha!

Happy to answer questions in the comments – fire away!