Eps 346: Raising Emotionally Healthy Men with Todd Adams

Episode 346

My guest today is Todd Adams. 

Todd and Casey talk about raising young, straight, cis-gendered, white men and how to balance teaching them about the responsibility that comes with their privilege without over-burdening them.  They discuss what it means to “be a man” and how to nurture a young man’s emotional intelligence & the importance of modeling.  Todd shares how important it is for parents to be self-aware, curious, and willing to learn.  He gives strategies for connecting with and calling-in teenagers and why to connect when they’re ready.  Casey and Todd remind us that there’s not a perfect script, but an ongoing conversation, when it comes to tough topics like consent, substance use, & being advocates.  Todd wraps up by talking about what healthy masculinity and “mature masculinity” look like to him. 

Todd is an advocate for men supporting healthy masculinity, conscious relationships, and prosperous careers. For 11 years, Todd has co-hosted Zen Parenting Radio, a top-ten kids and family podcast on iTunes, which he partners on with his wife Cathy – who you will remember as a guest on this show last spring.  He also co-founded and is the Executive Director of MenLiving- an international not-for-profit men’s organization.  Todd is a life and leadership coach certified through the Conscious Leadership Group as well as Tony Robbins Life Coaching Program.  Todd is a member of The Mankind Project and blogs for the Good Men Project.

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Takeaways from the show

  • Raising teenagers is messy- especially right now. 
  • What is privilege? 
  • What does it mean to “be a man?” 
  • What are the men in your home modeling for your teens? 
  • What do boys need from their parents? 
  • What are ways to call-in & connect with teens? 
  • It’s natural for kids to pull away from us in their teen years. 
  • There’s no script for tough topics with teens like consent & being advocates – it’s an ongoing conversation.  
  • What is healthy masculinity?

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Casey O'Roarty 00:05
Hello, hello my friends. Welcome back to joyful courage, a conscious parenting podcast, where we tease apart the challenges and nuances of parenting through the adolescent years. I am your host, Casey over already positive discipline trainer, parent coach and adolescent lead at Sproutable, where we celebrate not only the growth of children, but also the journey and evolution that we all get to go through as parents. This is a place where we keep our real, real stories real parenting, the teen years are real messy, and there aren't many right answers. But the more we trust ourselves, and trust our teens, the better the outcomes can be. The Parenting we talked about over here is relationship centered, you won't find a lot of talk about punishment, consequences or rewards. What you will hear is a lot of encouragement about connection, curiosity and life skill development. Our teens are on their own journey. And while we get to walk next to them for a bit, we don't get to walk for them. Their work is to learn from the tension of their life. Our work is to support them and love them along the way. I'm so glad you're here. Enjoy the show.

Casey O'Roarty 01:33
Hi, everybody. My guest today is Todd Adams. Todd is an advocate for men supporting healthy masculinity, conscious relationships and prosperous careers for 11 years. 11 Is that the right amount

Todd Adams 01:46
or two? Sounds about right. I lose track I don't know.

Casey O'Roarty 01:50
Okay, so for 11 ish years, Todd has co hosted Zen parenting radio, a top 10 kids and family podcast on iTunes that which he partners on with his wife Kathy, who you will all remember as a guest on the show last spring. He also co founded and is the executive director of men living an international not for profit men's organization. Todd is a life and leadership coach certified through the conscious leadership group as well as Tony Robbins life coaching program. Todd is also a member of the mankind project and blogs for the good men project. High Tide Welcome to Oh cast.

Todd Adams 02:29
Thank you so much. Excited. Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 02:31
I'm so glad that you're here. I would love to start just by hearing more about who you are, and the roles of your in your life and how you found yourself doing the work that you do.

Todd Adams 02:44
Okay, so my nine to five job in the sales rep for a company that sells connections to concrete companies. That's kind of boring. But I also spend a lot of my time with my wife. We've been doing this podcast called Zen parenting radio for the last 11 or 12 years. She's recorded our 670/8 podcasts this week. And I also founded, men's group co founded a men's group, which I didn't even know that I was doing that when I invited a few friends over to my living room about in 2012. So I guess it'd be 10 or 11 years ago. And since then, we have grown into an International Men's organization, not for profit, most of our programming is virtual. And hopefully we get a chance to talk a little bit about that as well. I have three amazing daughters. 19 years old, 17 years old and 15 years old. And we have a three legged rabbit named smokey.

Casey O'Roarty 03:39
Did you get it as with three legs or what? Yeah, and

Todd Adams 03:43
we adopted her she had three legs, and we don't even I think she may have gotten injured. And instead of them, you know, putting the rabbit down. There's this amazing shelter in Chicago called the Red Dwarf shelter and they just take any rabbits anywhere. You know, not wild rabbits, obviously, but bred bunny rabbits. And yeah, we found her and they have a crate, you know, they don't just like hand them over. They like make you go through the wringer just to make sure you're going to care for this little rabbit. So I'm very grateful. And she this rabbit is my teacher on how to be Zen. We sometimes call her Zen bunny because she is a chill little thing. And I sometimes find myself like, I wonder what she's thinking when she sees all this chaos and activity in the household. People walking all the time, and this rabbit will just stay in the same place. Just staring for an entire day. And I'm sure she's like, Why are these people doing all these things? And sometimes I find myself asking the same thing like why am I doing all of these things?

Casey O'Roarty 04:43
Oh yeah, it's good to have a guide in the household for sure. I love Zen parenting radio. I love listening to you and Kathy and I really tuned in just to the dynamic of your relationship which I really appreciate as well as how quick you are especially because Kathy will reference a song or reference something. And I think we're all pretty much the same age and out of nowhere, or maybe not out of nowhere. You are so quick to pull that 80 song right into the podcast and it always makes me smile. I love. Exactly, you just like that. I don't know if you can hear that. But I heard it. I heard it picks up.

Todd Adams 05:26
That was Mr. Roboto. They have I have a soundboard. So Kathy and I emit a lot of the same loving, compassionate messaging that you do. I listened to a few of your podcasts, we're all saying the same thing through our own lens. And what we should I try to do is talk about the serious stuff about parenting, but also have fun. And we also love pop culture, we have a whole nother podcast called Pop Culture ring, and we just talk about our favorite movies. So anyways, but yeah, that's what's great about having a partner is she'll be talking, she'll bring up something, and I'll just quickly pull it up on YouTube. I pay for that YouTube account that doesn't have the commercial beforehand. And I'll just press play. And we'll laugh. My goal is to laugh during the podcast. And sometimes we're successful. Sometimes we're not.

Casey O'Roarty 06:10
Well, listen, I mean, I feel like I was just leading a class last night of parents of teenagers. And that was, you know, we were talking about some pretty heavy stuff. And, you know, I had to remind everybody, teenagers are similar to toddlers and the differences. Toddlers and Preschoolers are so cute. So it's so easy to like, slide into the playfulness and slide into the lightness. It's not always easy when they're older. But that's such a useful tool. It's such a useful tool, so play laughter, lightness, I'm a big supporter of that on the parenting journey.

Todd Adams 06:45
Well, it is so easy to forget about how silly and playful that are teenagers once were and then you know, all these life changes and body changes. It's a crazy time in somebody's life. So what I sometimes do is I go back and look at old pictures, old videos from when they were that age. Just to remind myself, this person still lives inside this 16 year old body, this three year old that used to be a silly heart, who's stressing about grades, there's a silly heart inside of her. And it helps me to remember that that is inside of her. And I do that for myself, I have a picture of myself when I was like seven years old, right by my office. And remember that that young man still lives inside of me because I have been accused of taking life too seriously. And unfortunately, a lot of the times there, right. So I just gotta remember, let's not take all of this stuff. So seriously.

Casey O'Roarty 07:35
Yeah, good message. I like it. And I've heard you talk on your show about the work that you do with men. That's what we're going to talk about today. I am raising, and we were saying I was saying this before I hit record. So my kiddo that most of my listeners they've been around, heard me talk about, he's been on my show, my sweet Ian, who's a month shy of 17. He is identifies as straight cisgendered. He's six foot five 200 pounds, you know, he's this big, hulking kid, right. And he's growing up in a time when men and specifically white straight men are really being called out for their behavior. And I notice how it trickles in to our family dynamic. I, of course, celebrate him and all that he is he's so much fun. He's hilarious. And he's got a ton of strengths and accomplishments. And I also want him to be aware of all the shitty things that white men do. And to do that, in a way without demonizing him. And without placing this huge burden, like being aware of his privilege that he just is wearing on his body all the time that he didn't ask for that just kind of came with the deal. Being aware of that without creating this, like burdensome and now you have to fix it. So it gets so messy. Right. So talk a little bit about the work that you do with young men and the conversations that you're having around this. Yeah, see soup.

Todd Adams 09:18
It's totally messy. And that's the first thing we need to start out is like this whole thing is messy. I think of it as a both and thing. If you turn on the news tonight, my guess is you know, first of all, the news is not the News, the news of the 10 worst stories of the day. So we have to be very careful on how we consume information. But most of the time, it's white straight men that are acting bad decisions that are making bad decisions. You know, whether we're talking about Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, or if we're talking about you know, how many people got murdered in downtown Chicago yesterday. So there is a problem with the men out there. And we need to be careful not to blame men like you even said like there's a call out culture Catherine, I just did a podcast About a month ago, there's this wonderful woman named Loretta Ross. She's an African American woman who gave this TED talk. And it's all about how do we call men in? How do we call people in versus call them out. And it's not an easy thing to do. Because, yeah, I can't take responsibility for the white slave owners from the 17 and 1800s. Yet there is a collective consciousness that that goes on. And I do need to be compassionate empathic of why somebody might be a little bit more accusatory to, you know, what my life is, because my life is pretty good. I'm a white straight man. And you know, just real quick, let's unpack the term privilege. Privilege for me is an I don't know where I heard this, but being born on third base, thinking that you had a triple. And I think it's a wonderful way of doing it. And I have all these privileges that I did not earn. And if you look at, you know, how many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are CEOs, it's mostly white straight men. If you look at our makeup of the House of Representatives, or the Senate and our government, it's mostly white straight men. So we do have this power, we do have this influence, while at the same time that men and boys in this world are, and I'm speaking very generally, here, we're lost, we are lonely. And the reason we are lonely, and the reason we are lost, and I am can't speak for all men out there, but I can speak for a lot of the men that I'm in contact with. And some of my own stories is because we were taught lies growing up of what it means to be a man. And what it means to be a man is our values predicated on how much money we have, in our bank account, how many girls we have sex with how many trophies are in our trophy box, all of these things that have nothing to do with the inherent goodness of who we are. But instead, we measure ourselves against other guys doing those things. And we are asked not to express any sense of emotion, with the exception of maybe anger, but the idea of a man or your 16 year old son expressing fear or sadness amongst his friends, if he has that in his life, he is an exception, and maybe he does. But there's just not nearly as much space for us to be human. It's really hard for women to walk in this world, the amount of things that my daughters have to worry about, that your son doesn't have to worry about. Its immense, but it doesn't mean that it's not effed up about the world that we're born into as young men.

Casey O'Roarty 12:38
Well, gosh, and I think about, you know, growing up with the two kids, so I'm a positive discipline trainer, and I would call II and my positive discipline kid, because Rowan, my daughter was like, now not gonna make a routine chart. I don't want to do that. I want to do what you want to do. And Ian was like, Oh, do you think we should make a routine chart about this, you know, like, he was into it. He was open, we had a lot of conversations. And I was really aware of, you know, nurturing his emotional intelligence. And then, you know, late middle school, high school hit granite, also, global pandemic, which is the thing, and now I'm watching him, I feel like there is room for him in the households to express he's very close. And he does share. I mean, there's plenty he doesn't share. But I'm watching him watching tick tock, and on social media. And it is it's like, either, you know, the thirst trap situations, or it's, you know, recently he's like, my mom looks so funny. The ones he's like, look at this tick tock, and I think to myself, why is it this one that you're like, Hey, Mom, check this out, right? And he's showing me this kids like fanning out his money, right? And so hearing you say, those messages of what it means to be a man, it's very alive in popular culture. And yeah, and I also noticed, too, more often than not the clients and parents that I work with, it is the boys that tend to be and not only, but it's often boys that tend to be really closed off around talking about, you know, because I go to question as well, how do you feel about that? Right? Is there a better question, Todd? Yes.

Todd Adams 14:24
Well, it's not that that's not a good question. But to have a 16 year old boy or a 36 year old man or a 56 year old man or an 86 year old man to answer that question, because I've asked that question. Yeah. And I even have a hard time answering it. But with all the work I've done, I think I'm a little bit better at it. When you say, you know, how are you feeling right now? They'll go right up to their head and they'll give you a thought they won't give you a feeling so some of it is just a lack of what emotional literacy and emotional intelligence is like, can we name you know the basic feelings fear, anger, sadness, joy, can you You locate it in your body, I happen to be somebody who believes that these emotions are not something in our brain, but it's actually resides in our body, it resides in my gut, I feel fear in my gut, I feel anger in my hands and in my jaw, I feel warmth and joy in my heart, I feel sadness in my throat, then can I actually give myself the ability to express it, which is really, really scary. Because your 16 year old son is being reinforced that if he expresses sadness in a group, he's gonna get ostracized, he's gonna get made fun of the only thing that we can talk about is sports. The only thing that we can talk about is making fun of each other. Like, that's how we connect by making fun of each other. And some of it is just the ability to give our kids the tools of what it's like. And it's not an easy thing to do. And it's not something that these kids learn in school, so they have to learn it at home, parenting with solid role modeling, I know, you're married, man, you have a husband.

Casey O'Roarty 15:56
I'm married to a man. Yep. So that is, you know,

Todd Adams 15:59
how is he role modeling what it means to be a man in this world. And that's where most of my work comes in is I spend a lot of my time not necessarily with children, but with guys, because I know that they're gonna go home and be with their kids. And can you guys express your feelings in front of your kids. And it's not an easy thing to do, because we've been taught since we were born, that any sense of vulnerability is a weakness. And what I'm trying to do is convince other guys that vulnerability is a strength that takes so much more work to be able to share your feelings in front of somebody, it's easier just to hide and push it down. And it's something that we need to continue to address and look at. And I guess, to come back to your question, is that a bad question? No, it's not, I tend to think that the best way that we teach our kids is by modeling it. And, you know, assuming your son is ends up straight, and he finds a woman in his life, he's going to compare his relationship to her with the way that your husband treats you. And that's the role model I'm talking about is we can talk a good talk, but unless we're walking it and showing these kids, because these kids aren't really listening to that much of what we're saying they're learning a lot more by watching what it is that we do.

Casey O'Roarty 17:10
Yeah. And I'm, you know, listening to you. And one of the things you said, the work that you've done, has provided you with the tools and skills that you have. And I'm thinking about all the listeners, most of which are women who are considering like, okay, modeling is this important thing, and I've got a partner if they're in a heterosexual relationship, you know, I have a partner who's hasn't done this work, who's a product of this raising of boys? And do you have, you know, what are some of the ways that we can other than sharing this podcast with your partners? What are some of the open doors to having conversations with our partners around their work and growing in their emotional intelligence? Without, you know, being accusatory or blaming? Yeah, because it's hard, it's steady.

Todd Adams 18:07
So first of all, and I'll speak for all guys, which I have no right to do, but I'll say it anyways, we don't like being told what to do. You know, I'm a white, straight male and rarely ever told what to do. So my Cathy, my wife is really, really good at this is what she does is give me gentle nudges, invitations. And, you know, depending on what's going on in the relationship, if there's a lot of like toxic stuff happening, then you need to treat a little bit differently. But if there is room for growth from your partner, I always think it starts with you like, how can you use this? If there's a woman out there married to a husband, and they're saying to themselves, how do I get my husband to do blah, blah, blah, start with yourself, like, get curious about your own reactivity? How can you be more loving, compassionate, emotionally intelligent, emotionally expressive towards your husband in a non threatening way, and that's really, really hard to do, because my guess is, you know, the cisgender relationships, the straight relationships out there. There's a lot of women out there carrying some heavy bags, since these kids were born. And I judge that there's a built in unfairness. And Kathy and I have talked a lot about emotional labor and things like that. But what I've said is, you know, we've had three kids, we've had two miscarriages, Kathy has carried five human beings in her body, she pushed them through her body, she breastfed them for anywhere between six months and a year. Like all these things that Kathy has done for me, I'm never going to be able to give as much as I've gotten out of this relationship. And I know that but my job is to try to do the best that I can. So I say that just because if there's some women out there that are depleted and heavy, and they just want their husband to meet them halfway, I get it. I totally get it and my invitation to the guys is step up, step up. You know, if you don't have the relationship with your wife that you once did, because you're too busy being a dad and not being a husband, then get what you want. My guess is we got into this whole marriage thing so that we can feel alive and feel deeply connected. And if you don't feel that way, then it's time to step up. And those are some of the things that we do. And the organization that I run is creating spaces for guys to connect deeply and live fully. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 20:16
Did you know that when my oldest and moved into the teen years I was caught off guard, I was mistakenly under the impression that I'd have it all together. And that things would be pretty much smooth for me during adolescence considering all the hard work I'd put in early on. Plus, I'm a parent educator, this is what I do. Surely, I would know how to navigate the teen years with my own kids, right? My sweet, younger self had no idea what was in store for her. One thing was for sure, I did believe in positive discipline, I just couldn't wrap my head around how positive discipline parenting looked. With teenagers. I knew I had to move out of the driver's seat. But I wasn't sure how to behave. So I didn't get kicked out of the passenger seat. You know what I mean? Lucky for me, I have a huge community to lean on. And that's exactly what I did. I reached out to other positive discipline trainers and educators, trainers and educators that had already moved through the teen years. And I had conversations about all the tough stuff, sex and screens and substance use curfews, mental health, brain development, and so much more. I recorded all of the conversations, because I knew I wasn't the only one struggling and wanted to create something that was useful for everyone. The result is the positive discipline for teens, audio Summit, 15 interviews that offer listeners real stories and real tools for maintaining our relationships and our sanity. During the teen years. If this sounds like a resource you'd like to have and come back to time and time again, head over to beast browsable.com/pb summit, for more info and to purchase. Again, that's BS, br audible.com/p D Summit.

Casey O'Roarty 22:26
When a lot of this relationship stuff to Todd, I'm just sitting here thinking about couples and same sex relationship. And I think, you know, when we take gender out of it, I think there's still some roles that people fall into. And I just want to acknowledge that as we continue to talk, because we are kind of keeping it in a more hetero space. But I do want to acknowledge anyone who's listening, you know, listen for the things that make sense to your relationship and take away what is useful to you.

Todd Adams 22:55
That's a good qualifier. And I'll say that I happen to believe that I have somebody who has a lot of masculine traits, and I have a lot of feminine traits. And in same sex couple, it's the same thing, there's a lot of one person may be heavier on the masculine, the other person may be heavier on the feminine, but my job is to kind of, for me, because the masculine comes a little bit easier to me is can I nurture the kind of the loving, soft, tender, loving side of me to balance out the one that my wife is so good at giving to our kids? So they have that qualification? Yeah, of

Casey O'Roarty 23:25
course. So where do you see? Well, I don't know that I'm gonna ask that question. You know, so we're raising kids. And we're assuming there's a two parent household in this conversation? Do you think that boys need something? I mean, I'm hearing the modeling conversation too. And we kind of can think about, like, the different relationships that boys have with their moms versus their dads. I mean, I'm sure there's nuances, and it is unique to each family. But do you think there's particular things that boys need from each parent?

Todd Adams 23:59
This might be cheating, by answering this question is, I think what our kids need is for us parents to be self aware. I think what kids need is for us to be curious. I think what our kids need is for us to know that they are here to teach us as much as we are here to teach them. I think our kids need us to act from a place through a lens of curiosity. I think our kids need us to be to work on ourselves. It's so easy for us to work on our kids and to guide into instruct, and I spend most of my time working on myself. And I just feel like if I can work on myself and be the best version of myself, then our kids are going to be the same thing. And I don't know if I answered that in the way that you were kind of wanting me to go to which is do we need moms to be more you know, father like and the fathers to be more nurturing? Yeah, I think our kids need us to be fully human. Yeah. And the only thing they're getting from me is the heavier aggressive, typically man Ask Elan behavior. That's not what it means to be human. Like we have all of these things I have this lover inside of me. The problem is it's been beat out of me since I was little boy. And I'm trying to let that one come out a little bit more. And same as the women, I would hope that our sons want to see our mother figures as really determined, aggressive, taking radical responsibility, all the things that, you know, made sometimes land in the, you know, the dad box, you know, I think our kids deserve to see all parts of us, not just the ones that we are more typically willing to show them.

Casey O'Roarty 25:40
Yeah. are conditioned. Yeah, express. So coming back to those of us raising these boys. Yeah. What are in your groups? Because I'm assuming it's probably similar. I know you live in a household full of women. Yeah, lucky guy.

Todd Adams 25:58
I am a lucky guy.

Casey O'Roarty 26:01
So when we're thinking about, you know, parenting, these young, white males, what are some ways to call them in that aren't also, you know, that balance that responsibility without making it this heavy burden? Yeah,

Todd Adams 26:17
it's tricky. Because we have this thing called teams and and we have these n talks, and yesterday was about two moms who said, I don't know how to connect with my son. Turns out one was 14, one was 16. I don't know how to connect with my sons. And what is it because it's very natural for our kids to pull away from us. They're not supposed to be they were when they were 10. So just

Casey O'Roarty 26:37
everybody hear that? Everybody hear that? Because that's important. This

Todd Adams 26:41
is the way that growth happens. They need to start separating, we all know that. And if we are engaging with them, where we need something from them, they feel it and they resist. So I would say, especially with boys like the intensity of okay, let's talk at the dinner table and just, you know, face to face, eye to eye. Tell me how your day you dating anybody? What are you worried about? Like, that's a really intense way of going about it, Kathy and I tend to do things while we're making dinner, have casual conversations in the car where you're not facing each other easier. It's safer to share things when you're shoulder to shoulder versus when you're face to face. And my biggest lesson is I need to connect when they're ready. What I find myself doing is connecting when I'm ready. Okay, I got this hour in the car with this kid. And this is going to be the most fantastic hour of all time. And she wants to listen to her headphones. And I'm like, no, no, no, you understand this is the time that we're connecting. And she's like, No, actually, we're not. So I have one daughter, who sometimes is a little bit more challenging to connect with. And then she called me, she's 17. And she's like, Dad, can you come pick me up. And she was in this really light hearted open mood, which sometimes you don't always see. I'm like, Oh, this is my time, even though I was tired, and it was late at night. So I picked her up and then we went and get got some french fries from the burger joint. And she was really open. So I think, you know, there's so many ways to answer this question. After parenting for 19 years, I have a lot of different answers. But one of them is be ready when they're ready. And you know, there's a mom out there a dad out there saying, well, they're never ready. I don't think that's true. It just think that it sometimes happens not when it's on our schedule. And instead it's on their schedule. And it's not going to be as often as you want it to be. It's not going to be as deep as you want it to be. But just make it when you get the opportunity just jump on it as best you can't and then get out like end on a high note versus squeezing as much out of it to the point where like, Well, I'm not going to talk to dad again, because he won't stop trying to connect with me. And I know that he's just trying to make himself feel better instead of really be curious about what's going on in my life.

Casey O'Roarty 28:50
Yeah, their radars are fine tuned. They're fine, too. And especially when we come in with an agenda there, it is fine tuned. So yes. And I'm thinking about, you know, these, like, I'm thinking to myself about having, you know, like I mentioned before we came on, I live in a super liberal pocket of the Pacific Northwest. And it is glorious, how kids are coming of age in our area. And I know there's other places as well like this, just really invited and given so much permission to be in their fullest expression. And it's fascinating to watch my kind of more traditional, I guess, I don't know if that's the right word, but just to watch my kid, look for a place of belonging inside of so much diversity in expression. And that's kind of where I'm really curious. Right? And there's that in group out group mentality that as humans exists, and it's just so interesting to watch Watch him who you know, 10 years ago or even more recently, like, that's the model, right? Like, he's sporty, he's good at school. He's, you know, outgoing, like, he's the guy. And here he is plopped in this experience where that's not nobody's like, celebrating that right? And so noticing, I'm just wondering, like, how can I bring this up? To have a conversation with him in a way? That just, I don't even know, like? What are some openings of having this conversation with him about how he feels about who he is in sight of this context and what it means to him? And you know, and I want him to be an ally, and I want him to, like, celebrate everybody, but at the same time, I think he feels a little outgroup. Sure. And there's some defensiveness there. And, yeah,

Todd Adams 30:50
it's an important topic and kind of how I talked to her earlier about how you look at the who's in the positions of power in this world and the government and corporations, it's usually white men, while at the same time we're getting left way behind, you know, we are the highest demographic of suicide is men in their middle ages, which surprised me when I first heard that I figured it'd be kids, but it's men in their middle ages, girls are passes by on college graduations, obviously, the prison population is mostly male, substance abuse, depression, not to say that women don't struggle with this, too. Obviously, they do. But we're getting so left behind. And it's tricky, because it's two things can be true at the same time. One is, yes, we are the ones in a position of power, while at the same time, we're getting lost. And I think the reason we're getting lost is because we get raised in this man box. And we're taught that you know, that the only way that we connect is through these very limited vehicles of sports and things like that. And we don't have space to be human, which is why we're getting so far behind. I think it's, you know, how do you have these conversations with your son just talking about this? Like, what do you think? What do you think about how this world goes in regards to the positions of power, while at the same time, you know, statistically, you know, girls have higher grade point averages, more girls graduated from school, and have that conversation, you know, we all have this kind of like thought or mine of these, like boys is sitting in their basement kaming. And the idea is just to bring them out and have the conversations about it. And just remind them that yeah, there's a collective here that we need to address. Right when Dr. Blasi Ford was in the trial with Kavanaugh, I wore a shirt called i and it just said I believe her. That's all it was. And there's I got a lot of people, a lot of women like, yes, thank you. And a lot of women and men are like, Hold on, wait a second, what do you mean, and I don't know whether or not is a good idea or a bad idea for me to say it. But I just wanted to be some type of advocate for equality and voice the oppressed. You know, I don't know what the status, there's all these different versions and stats, but one in six women on a college campus are going to be sexually assaulted. I happen to think that number is much higher than that. So we need to have these conversations with our sons for equality. I was having a conversation with another friend of mine, and he was driving his niece and his nephew and his son to college. And he had this long conversation to her about how to keep herself safe. And then when it had to do with talking to the men, the young men, like, you know, just keep an eye out for like that. Was it like all these different things for the woman, but for the boys just, you know, look out for like, No, we got to have these in depth conversations with these young men of what consent is of what it means to be a man in this world. And I get really sometimes bothered when I hear parents like, Oh, my daughters are so dramatic. And my sons are so easy. And my question is always like, Are you sure about that? Because just because they're not sharing something doesn't mean that they're hurt doesn't mean that they're not confused, but because they don't bring it up. We think that they're okay. And they're not

Casey O'Roarty 33:59
so? Well. It's funny, when I asked that question, I really wanted you to just give me a really easy answer. Like, just tell me what to do tell me. And as you're talking, I'm like, Oh, right. You just do it. You just have the conversations and you sit inside of the messy like there really isn't a perfect answer to that. It's just step into it. And I appreciate what you just said too, because I've noticed often where I've held my daughter as a victim and my son as the guy that's going to potentially hurt someone. And you know, when we talk about substance use, that's a big one. You know, where I'm noticing for her. It's like you're out of control. You can't always get out of situations but with him and I don't know if this is right, because I think it can work both ways. But with him, it's often like you don't want to be out of control because you might not be reading a situation the right way and make choices that could ultimately really hurt someone else and Ah, oh, God. I mean, that's almost hard. Well, it's a toss up, right? Which would be worse. Yeah, him hurting somebody else her being hurt. I don't know, they're both awful and not what I want to have to navigate with them. And, you know, we do talk about it. I do notice as well, like, sometimes my son is like, Yeah, I'm not gonna rape anyone, Mom, you know. So there's also an opportunity there for me to check myself and my tone and my languaging. Because I also don't want to set up a situation where my kids feel like I'm expecting this to happen, and they better not do it, you know, like, so?

Todd Adams 35:43
Well, it's funny, like, first of all, I believe you're someone who says I'm not going to rape anybody. Yeah, what I'm hoping to do is raise men who will not only not rape women, or not assault, women are not harass women, but to really step up and stand up when they notice it and observe. He goes to college, he's gonna be in the middle of it. It's a toxic environment. I was part of it. I was in a fraternity, there's so many, you know, alcohol, drugs. I mean, it really messes some things up. There's a story. My daughter was young, she was probably like 14 or 15. But they were getting she was getting pictures with her friends who she got dolled up. So she looked a little bit older than she did. And these guys who were like 19, or 20, were harassing. I wasn't there. My daughter told me the story afterwards. And the restaurant was full of people. And the three people that called these guys out on their behavior were three women. And like, where are the guys, and the reason the women call it out is because they know what it's like to be on the other side of that, yeah, and they have this radar. And my hope is that we can raise young men, not just to not commit sexual assault, but instead be on the lookout and step into the space and intervene in a way, whether it's about rape, or whether it's about a sexist joke. And that doesn't mean that you go in with guns blazing, if there's a safety issue than you do. But you know, we've all been in circles where these either racist or sexist jokes, and what I have done, because I no longer am part of those conversations, but when I witness it, I sometimes say it in the moment, but most of the time I pull the guy aside and say listen to you, just so you know, I've been there. I've said a lot of stupid stuff as well, I just needed to know from over here from my world, that's not cool. And that is a way to, you know, instead of calling him out in this moment, and Barisan him in front of his friends and his group, all mountain have a one on one conversation with him so that you can have that discussion. And, you know, I'm sure that guy's just saying it because he feels he wants to be accepted. He feels like this is a vehicle of acceptance by making fun of women are making funny fun of somebody that has different skin color. And what I want to do is raise healthy, masculine men, and we have a long ways to go, we're getting better. I don't want to just sit on the fact that we're getting better, because we're getting better very slowly.

Casey O'Roarty 38:00
Yeah, well, and I appreciate that. I'm definitely thinking about conversations that I'm going to be having. My kids are so lucky, I come up out of podcast recording super hot. But you know, that conversation too, because I think there is this messaging around like you have to stand up, you have to call people out you have to say something, but I really appreciate it. And that is a high risk. You know,

Todd Adams 38:26
think about it. How many of us adults do that? Right? It's hard for us to do so for us to ask somebody who has doesn't have a fully developed prefrontal cortex. Yeah. 17 years old, who's lost and just trying to find his way in this world? I think we forget how scary that is. Right? And it's because we still don't do it in front of my friends. Right? There's a mercy in there. Yeah. So

Casey O'Roarty 38:47
I love talking about hey, you know what, you can always pull someone aside and make that a private one on one. I think that that, you know, and the outcome probably is going to be influenced in a better direction as well. If that's the case, you wrote a blog post inviting men into mature masculinity that I read recently, where you talk about what mature masculinity is

Todd Adams 39:10
learning, I kind of dance around what adjective I want to put in front of masculinity. Mature masculinity is one that I use conscious masculinity. There was that Gillette commercial from a few years ago, which was about toxic masculinity. And I'm always so surprised by how many men get offended by that, because they think it's an attack on manhood. For me, it's not an attack on manhood. Instead, it's making us aware of something that is broken, that needs to be fixed. But if I'm really trying to connect with a group of men, because I've been called out when I'm doing presentations with some of these guys are like, well, you lost me as soon as you call this toxic. No, dude, I'm not calling you toxic. I'm saying that some of the behaviors that we emit, are toxic, they're poisonous. And that doesn't mean that doesn't happen with women over there. I just became aware of there's some Northwestern professor and he coined the term restrict masculinity, which is pretty good. And what that means is, you know, the version of masculinity that we grew up in is really restricting our ability to be fully human and restricting our ability to be fully alive. But yeah, to be a materially masculine man, it's, am I investigating when I get reactive towards my wife or my kids? If my taking radical responsibility for the events that happen in my life? Am I feeling all of my emotions all the way through to expression and then finding the intuition that's on the other side of that feeling? Am I stopping blaming others and instead taking responsibility for myself? Am I using conflict is an opportunity to connect the idea of repairing conflict is a wonderful way to connect with other people instead of running away from it. There's so many different versions of healthy masculinity, but it starts and ends with awareness. Whenever I get triggered when I get reactive around something, there's some learning in it for me, and there's a lot of guys walking around that are just blaming themselves. And I'm really good at that, by the way, or blaming others and not playing a role that they need to play to make their world a better place.

Casey O'Roarty 41:06
Yeah. I love this conversation. It's so powerful. And it's so exciting to me as a self help personal growth junkie love it, in it every day to hear somebody else super stoked about it, and that you're guiding other men in this work gives me a lot of hope that we can speed things up a little bit, maybe.

Todd Adams 41:34
So we need

Casey O'Roarty 41:36
is there anything else you want to make sure to leave listeners with today, Todd,

Todd Adams 41:40
let's see what comes to me right now. Just keep role modeling. Keep working on yourselves. That's what I try to do. On my good days. keep growing, keep evolving. Yeah, I appreciate you creating the space for us to have this conversation. If anybody's interested to look at some of the things we're doing and men living, everything we do is free with the exception of some in person weekend. So we're not trying to get any money from you. We're just creating spaces for men to be authentic, vulnerable, connect with one another, learn some personal growth resources. We do six programs a week, and it's all free. So check it out at been living.org. And Zen parenting is something that I feel really inspired by and Kathy and I have been doing this for 11 years. And we just keep having this conversation. And I'll mention the motto that we do, which we stole from Dr. Dan Siegel, which I'm sure you're familiar with. Love him. He's like one of the best predictor of a child's well being is a parent's self understanding. And it's something that just resonates with Kathy and I and we just need to keep looking at ourselves to see how we show up. So.

Casey O'Roarty 42:47
So Dan Siegel side story. I Psalms. He's been on the podcast a couple times. I tried to keep my shit together when I'm interviewing him. Yeah, right. So fan girling. Yeah, I saw him speak and there was a q&a. And the mom came up to the mic and told this whole story about backtalk in the kitchen. And Dr. Siegel was like, Well, you're not gonna like this response. But really, you need to turn inward and figure out what's going on for you. And it's was just so beautiful, you know? Yeah, so yes, men living.org, Zan, parenting radio. You guys, you mentioned it quickly. But I want listeners to know that you have the Zen talks that you do once a month that you and Kathy both facilitate, right? Yeah. You're both a few times a month, actually. Yeah, yeah, a few times a month. You all heard Kathy come on last spring and talk about her book she actually came in was a part of my book club and the membership program that I run, so I adore her work as well. The final question that I asked all my guests, and I'm gonna ask you to is what does joyful courage mean to you?

Todd Adams 43:52
Hmm. What is joyful courage. I mean, to me, just the I just think the vulnerability, joyful courage, for me means being vulnerable. So that's what I'm going to leave you with is, the more vulnerable I am the more joy that shows up in my life and it requires courage. So

Casey O'Roarty 44:12
beautiful. Thank you so much for hanging out with me, Todd. This is awesome. Thank you

Casey O'Roarty 44:26
Yay. All right. Thank you again for listening in to a another show. Please check the show notes for any links mentioned in this episode. If you liked what you heard today, will you do me a favor and share it? Screenshot the show plastered all over your socials so that other parents know that we are creating value over here for them? If you really want to earn a gold star, head to Apple podcasts and leave us a review? This does so much For the show for the exposure, it's a great way to give back. Thank you to my team at Sprout double for all your support. Alana Juliet, I love you so much. Thank you to Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for keeping the show sounding so good. And you listener, thank you for continuing to show up. This is hard work that we're doing. I encourage you in this moment, in this moment together. Let's take a deep breath in. And follow that into your body. Hold it for a moment, exhale. And with that exhale, release the tension. And I invite you to trust, trust that everything is going to be okay. I'm so happy to support you. So glad to have spent time with you today. I'll see you next week.

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