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Making the journey to manhood accessible and fun

Fox Run executive director pens guide for fathers, mentors of boys

Created date

August 21st, 2012

Mike McCormick leads a staff of over 700 people who serve more than 1,000 residents every day in his role as the executive director of Fox Run, an Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich. But after hours, he has an equally precious leadership role: McCormick is the father of three children. McCormick takes his job as a father seriously. In fact, he recently published a book about teaching boys how to become men in modern society. Man Quest: Leading Teenage Boys Into Manhood (Elk Lake Publishing, 2012) is a step-by-step approach for fathers and male mentors guiding boys as they transform into men of courage, honor, and integrity.

Small conversation sparks big idea

The idea for the book came to McCormick one afternoon when his 12-year-old son Xavier asked him if he could go with his friends to see the R-rated movieThe Hangover. The popular film depicts a group of male friends celebrating a bachelor party in Las Vegas with booze, drugs, gambling, and strippers. At that moment, Mike realized that pop culture whether or not fathers like it plays a role in what young boys learn about being a man. Dads can t afford to be complacent in our society, McCormick says. If you re not actively talking to your teenage son about what it truly means to be a man, then his concept of masculinity is being warped by the cultural definition of money, sex, and power. Your window of influence with your son is smaller than you think, and his masculine mindset is being adversely shaped right now. When McCormick searched for a book that would help him impart his values to his sons and teach them about manhood, he couldn t find one. He figured that other dads were probably looking for similar resources, so he decided to write the book he was seeking for himself and for other families.

Six guideposts to manhood

Man Quest is based on six guideposts toward manhood: accept responsibility, lead courageously, pretend about nothing, journey with God, protect your heart, and engage in deep and meaningful relationships. McCormick wrote the book in a workbook style, complete with hands-on help, teaching tips, and completed agendas for celebrations to make the journey to manhood fulfilling and fun. The first part of theMan Questjourney is for a father to share his life story with his son. Due to genetics, modeling, or some combination of both, there is a greater likelihood that our kids will repeat our mistakes, McCormick says. Most of us have only heard our father s story in bits and pieces. Keeping our kids in the dark about our struggles doesn t help boys grow into men. Ultimately, sharing the tough stuff lets a boy know he s becoming a man and therefore can be trusted with important and confidential info. The book also lays out activities that fathers can participate in with their sons to teach them about manhood. For example, McCormick says he s compiled a list of movies dads and their boys can watch together to start dialogues about life lessons.

Inspiration from men at Fox Run

Interestingly, McCormick has the privilege of spending his days with the retirees at Fox Run, including hundreds of men who are many years his senior and even further along on their own journeys as men. He says spending time with male residents over the last 16 years has helped shape his perspective on masculinity. I have been particularly moved by our veterans who accepted the responsibility of serving our country with such bravery and valor, he says. There comes a time when every man needs to do hard things that nobody wants to do. I don t think there s any better example of this than going to war. Since it was released in March,Man Quest has received high praise from well-known male leaders, including Joe Ehrmann, pastor, coach, NFL legend, and author of InSideOut Coaching and Detroit Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski. It is available for sale on, where readers have given the book glowing reviews. McCormick encourages any man with young boys in his life to pick up a copy. It s not the responsibility of your church, school, or youth group to teach your son the essence of manhood; it s the father s role to pass it on, he says. Heck, if you don t have a teenage son yourself, there are plenty of young boys out there without a father who need a mentor to show them the way. Our boys are dying for a real and true definition of what it really means to be a man.