A man in the family. New perspectives in guiding young boys into manhood.


I´m a mother of three boys, the older one is becoming 11 in two months.

Quite often I find myself inquiring on how to walk along with him during his new life transition into and during adolescence.

He is a wise boy and can express his feelings quite clearly about this or any other issue, which doesn´t mean he knows how to deal with them. Nor do I, to be sincere.

A while ago he got upset and told me:

– You don´t understand I need to take distance from you.

He´s so true, I thought. But he is not ready yet. How do I guide him and let him go at the same time? I didn´t know what to say.

Later on my mother advised me well.

Tell him you do understand his need for distance and you´ll do it slowly, so no one gets hurt, she suggested.

I did it and it worked out perfectly. He was smiling and relieved.

“Oh man, I do need to go away, but not yet!”, he might have thought.

joven en camino

Amanda Morgan at NotJustCute.com has been conducting a research on the transition to manhood and why young boys tend to be a risk population. Reading her last article: Building Strong Boys – The meaning of Manhood I remembered the teachings of Bert Hellinger and suddenly I got a new perspective about my son slowly becoming a young adult man (and about any boy in this transition, actually). Why are young boys a risk population as shown by statistics? Why an increasing number of young men feel the impulse to drop school, enter gangs, make drug abuse or get involved in grave and violent acts? And how to prevent this?

May they be feeling the only way to manhood is the stereotype of macho, rebel bravery and thoughtless toughness?

I certainly don´t accept nor wish this for my boys nor for anyone else´s children.

images (1)

Hellinger did an enormous contribution to the Systemic Psychology field and his discoveries regarding The Orders of Love are a unique tool to heal family life and to parent and educate from a new and profound perspective.

I won´t go into detail into his work because I don´t feel qualified and it would exceed the subject of this post.

I only want mention a few aspects of his theory and how I understand it can be related to challenges for both: parents and teen age boys.


imagesThe Orders of Love are:

1. a respect for family hierarchy: who came first takes the first place.

2. a feeling of real belonging: all members of the family system are relevant and needed, beyond silences, exclusions, victims and victimizers.

3. a balance in taking and giving: assuming active individual responsibility in the family interchanges.

I can very well imagine that understanding and helping to implement these orders into family life can be of great importance for boys in the transition to manhood.

Just a few implications:

A father that is recognized in his hierarchy and is given the right place in the family system will be able to guide his boys into manhood in many healthy ways. (After family constellations research many times mothers, female school members and other relevant females and even men rearing and educating boys don´t give fathers -and men- their due place).

A boy and young man that is given his right place in the family system will accept and embrace his parents, offering them the needed recognition to be able to become an independent adult. (the more you continue judging your parents, the more attached to them you are).

selfconfident young boy
Helping boys experiencing their belonging to the family system, to their culture and society offers them the right path to identify and trust in healthy manhood models. Transitional rituals are a perfect tool to meet this objective.


Trusting youth and it´s potential to GIVE (avoiding setting them in the exclusive position of RECEIVING) helps developing a sense of inner balance and offers a feeling of self confidence, much needed in teen age. This implies offering them real life opportunities to share their gifts, to give them the freedom to express their ideals, to take their input into real consideration when planning and while decision making, etc. In my own experience this is best fulfilled when young men (and women) taste the joy of nourishing their idealism by being of help to others volunteering in social service organizations.

padre abraza adolescente

I hope this brief ideas contribute to the discussion. What do you think?

I´d love to hear your opinion!

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