My oldest biological son, Hayden, turned 12 yesterday. Throughout this past year, I've been reading many books on male initiation - how to begin training a boy into the ways of manhood. The best book on this subject by far is, Richard Rohr's - Adam's Return. This will be a year long process I will guide Hayden through culminating on his 13th birthday. So many of my friends who have sons this age want to know how to initiate their sons. Hopefully, I can provide a bit of a road map. If you have ideas, I'd love to hear them.
Here's the letter I wrote him and presented to him Thanksgiving morning, the day the process began:
Congratulations on being 12! Wow, your 11’s are over and after this year you will officially be a teenager. Happy Birthday pal! I’m so excited for you.
I wanted you to know that I am so proud of you Hayden. I cannot believe the young man you have become. Everything I’ve ever wanted in a son is wrapped up in who you have become. As I look back over the last 12 years of your life I marvel at how God has shaped you into a person of character, integrity, and Godliness.
Last night at the dinner table I told you about how clearly I remember the day before you were born. I sat in front of that fireplace in our very first house in Rowlett, Texas, in 1996 and cried my eyes out before God. I cried because potentially, something could have been wrong with you, but even more than that, I believe I cried out to Him because of the gift he was giving me. You are incredibly special Hayden Davis. You will make your mark on the world in amazing ways. I’ve always known that. I’m glad to be your father, and I’m glad I get to witness how God will use you.
The next few years it is my privilege and honor to shepherd this defining time in your life. More than this just being a letter of “Happy Birthday” and an expression of my pride for who you’ve become, it is an invitation into a year of initiation - an initiation into manhood.
Over this year we will do many things together. The gifts you receive today will give hints of our first big trip that will take place in January. Every quarter there will be a special, secret trip you and I will embark on. Many times you won’t know what’s to come, I want you to trust me. Trust that I’m doing what’s right for you and planning events that will be memories for years to come.
Every month I will sit down with you and talk to you about what it takes to be a Christ-follower and leader in this world and how to navigate life in a way that honors the God who loves you so dearly. The men who are the closest to you will speak into your life during these months, teaching you the most valuable lessons they’ve learned in life. They are my closest friends and they will also become your friends and confidants.
We’ll openly discuss issues that are important to God and vital to you becoming a man of God. Issues such as; character, leadership, integrity, friendship, covenant, Godliness, eternity, destiny, and the out-there realities of things like sex, alcohol, and rock and roll!
I can’t wait for this year Hayden. You will change so much from 12 to 13. As your dad, I commit to stand by your side and mentor you through this process. This will just be one year, but one that will define our relationship for the next 60. My prayer is that as you grow up, you and I will always be as tight as a father and son can be.
I will always believe in you and I’ll always be right by your side cheering you on through each and every stage of your life
On this Thanksgiving Day, I couldn’t be more thankful to have you in my life. Happy Birthday son.
I love you,