I was honored when Aisha Sultan, home and family editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently wrote an article about my journey, and how it led to my life’s work.
Raising Sons: In Case You Missed It
The article is titled “Giving boys what they need when fathers are absent” and appropriately published on Fathers Day. I heard from many fathers, young and old telling me how the article touched them. Some are raising sons today. Some are hoping to heal the wounds of their past relationship with their father.
I’ve shared my story many times; however, I don’t think it could have been “summed up” any better than Aisha did in her article. (more…)
I have shared much about The Quest Project®; how it works and the processes it covers with adolescent boys. I’d like to show you the results my program has on specific behaviors. I’ll also share comments at the end from participants!
The Behavioral Evaluation Scale (BES)
What is this and why do you care? If you or someone you know is interested in The Quest Project® this data is proof of the program’s success.
I have parents complete a “Behavioral Evaluation Scale” (BES-3) on their son before the program begins, and again after completion of the program. I do this in order to measure the young man’s progress in the following.
- Learning Problems
- Interpersonal Difficulties
- Inappropriate Behavior
- Physical Symptoms/Fears
Both the participant and parent are surveyed to gather feedback on the program itself. (more…)
Cracking the code! Solving the mystery! How would you like to know what your adolescent boy is missing as you witness him changing from a boy to a man?
He Needs a “Modern Day Rite of Passage”
I’m often asked what is a “rite of passage?” It’s a term that most people equate with times past. We have forgotten the importance of a rite of passage with our boys. Your son knows something is missing, he doesn’t know what “it” is, so he acts out and searches for relief by doing “it” himself or alone.
What’s the “it” mystery? He needs a rite of passage which in simple terms means “a process of changing from a boy to a man.” Sounds easy enough right? It should be, but as a society, we have gotten away from and forgotten how to honor or recognize this time in an adolescent boy’s life.
I’ve shared this poem by Rudyard Kipling, originally published in 1910 with you before. It’s not only one of my favorites; it is worthy of sharing again as I believe “If-” says it all!
If you can keep your head when all about you;
are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
but make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
and yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: (more…)
Are you a healthy, responsible example for your adolescent son?
Message for Fathers: You Are a Gift
What a special opportunity a dad has in the life of his son. I am reminded of the important role dad plays in the healthy development of their sons every day. Sure I have research and data that can prove it, but the proof is in the thousands of boys that have gone through The Quest Project®. The proof is hearing them talk about their dad and wishing “dad had more time for him.”
How many fathers realize that a boy will enter a stage of development known as “Identity-vs-Confusion” which starts at approximately 11 years of age (that can vary)? Additionally, there is the “Zone of Proximal Development(ZPD),” basically without going into a deep academic dive, it is where he needs dad (or a healthy male mentor) to mentor him through these developmental stages. WHY: Because when you put these 2 together it becomes the most crucial stage of an adolescent boy’s life! (more…)
Is Your Son Grieving a Loss?
There are many definitions of grief, the one I like best is by The Grief Recovery Institute:
“Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. Of itself, grief is neither a pathological condition nor a personality disorder. Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”
The death of a loved one is only ONE of the many reasons we grieve. Is your son grieving the loss of a good friend? A break up with his girlfriend? Did the family pet die? If there has been a divorce, he may be grieving a parent.
Grief is part of life, an emotion to recognize, embrace and work through. Keep in mind we all grieve differently, some wear their emotions on their sleeve and others internally. There is not a right or wrong way to grieve. With adolescent boys, they are more likely to keep their feelings buried deep inside. That is not only unhealthy but delays the grieving process and can lead to self-medicating or avoidance. (more…)
Are you afraid your son is smoking pot, drinking or worse?
My Son Would Never Do That
I hope you’re not deceiving yourself; drugs and alcohol are readily available EVERYWHERE! He can escape his feelings by “numbing out” and find refuge by drinking or smoking pot. And worse let’s not forget the huge opioid epidemic that’s sweeping the country.
I have met hundreds of moms and dads who didn’t know their son was smoking pot, drinking or worse.
Here is what I know-“If you think or have felt like he’s in trouble, he’s in trouble!”
5 Questions to Ask Yourself
- Is my son experimenting with E-cigarettes(vaping) or cigarettes?
- Why is my son hanging out at an unsupervised friend’s house for hours?
- Why does he get enraged when I walk in his room? (by the way, it’s your house, I promote respecting his space – but if you suspect something is wrong, you owe it to yourself and your son to follow your instincts.) Moms have the best instincts!
- Is this really my son-what is going on?
- Why can’t I shake this feeling that something is wrong?
I am excited! I am in the final phase of my Ph.D. work!
What I’ve Been Up To
One very important component of my dissertation was to gather data to support my topic Difference of a Counselor Facilitated Adolescent Boys’ Group on Behavior. I had the privilege of facilitating The Quest Project® to a great group of boys at Woodridge Middle School over the past 10 weeks. A special thanks to the staff there that supported and embraced the work.
Recent Press Release
Just in case you didn’t see it, here’s a copy of the press release about my work at Woodridge.
Local Therapist Helping Middle School Boys At Risk in Jefferson County
Clayton Lessor, Ph.D., Guiding Students at Woodridge Middle School
“Why are you being so nice to us?” This unassuming question was asked by a 7th grader to local therapist and author, Clayton Lessor Ph.D. The genesis of this conversation was a call Lessor received from Woodridge Middle School in the Northwest R1 district, asking for help. According to Stephen Bourke, the sole guidance counselor at the school with a student body of 625, “public schools in Missouri are in desperate need of more resources. It is amazing to have an expert like Dr. Lessor helping to make sure that kids are not falling through the cracks.”
Some of the issues that affect children in the school include families dealing with drug addiction, foster care, suicide, and physical abuse among other difficult issues. Lessor specializes in guiding adolescent boys ‘from boys to men’ and ushering them through a validating ‘rite of passage’.
Lessor is now holding weekly sessions with adolescent boys at the school. The group meetings, held in a school office, are a ‘safe place’ where the boys can release anger, talk about emotions and home situations with a highly experienced licensed counselor. Lessor’s own childhood included an alcoholic, physically abusive father, a mother who didn’t intervene and eventually set the family home on fire. The ten-week program includes two groups of ten boys each from the sixth, seventh and eighth grades respectively. Though apprehensive at first, after just one session with Lessor, Bourke says the boys were laughing, talking about how much fun it was and how they couldn’t wait for the next session.
“These boys are learning to be productive young men and how important mental health is for the rest of their lives,” says Bourke.
Lessor’s mission is to provide immediate help and hope to families struggling with adolescent boys’ behaviors, including violence, anger, rage, failing grades, truancy, disassociation with the family and other conducts of concern.
I hope you’ll stay connected as I enter the “home stretch” of my “Journey of a Thousand Miles.” I’m glad that you have taken this journey with me, stayed connected and supported me in my mission “to create healthy lifestyles by teaching, facilitating, writing and example.”
More to come!
It was a chilly morning in Bismarck, North Dakota but what a warm welcome from Kevin and Monica at KFYR.
I was honored to be invited to talk about “Saving Our Sons” A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Boys for Success and The Quest Project® recently on North Dakota Today! What a great way to spread the news and talk at length about both! (more…)
Graduation is a major milestone for your son. Celebrate his accomplishment!
Congratulations-He Made It!
This is a very exciting time! I congratulate you if you are honoring a graduate in your home. It’s a time to honor the achievement and begin to plan the next steps if you haven’t already done so. If your son plans to attend college you have most likely been working towards this day for a while. If he isn’t a candidate for college have you talked about his options?
Graduation: Establishing the “Exit Plan”
An exit plan involves both parents. If dad is present he should be hands-on with his son; planning and discussing this next phase of his life.
I recommend at the start of his junior year in high school begin to “nudge” him toward planning for his future. Establishing an exit plan will help with transitioning after graduation; it opens the door to conversation about goals, purpose, direction and independence. It prevents what’s ahead from being/becoming a shock! (more…)