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A men’s group is an opportunity for a small group of men to provide mutual support and friendship, and facilitate emotional growth. (This article I found Googling provides some background on what a men’s group is, for those who are not already familiar with the concept: http://mensightmagazine.com/columns/transit... )
Meetings take place every other Wednesday evening, from 6:30 PM until about 9:00 PM. Currently we are meeting in a classroom at the Unitarian church in Farmington Hills.
The group functions as primarily a discussion group. In a typical meeting, we first go around the table and “check in,” which means that each member briefly gives an update on what’s been going on in his life and what’s been on his mind to talk about since the last meeting. Other members may provide feedback (if he wants it; it’s allowed to say you just want to be listened to this week, and don’t want comments or advice). Then the remainder of the meeting usually is a discussion of a topic chosen by that week’s facilitator.
Sample topics might be:
* Difficulties we’ve run into trying to communicate with a significant other, and how as men we can be better communicators in our relationships.
* Ways we were influenced by our fathers, and how we can best retain the positive influences and free ourselves of the destructive influences.
* As men, do we define ourselves too much in terms of work and career?
* Are we living our lives in accordance with the values we claim to believe in?
But really the topics are limited only by our imaginations.
What a men’s group of this kind is not:
* Formal group therapy: Though we hope the group will be therapeutic for its members and help them to grow emotionally, this is not a group run by a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or trained mental health professional of that kind and thus does not purport to provide treatment. Someone who needs the services of a mental health professional should never forego that and turn to a men’s group instead.
* Tied to any specific religion, political ideology, New Age philosophy, etc.: Many men’s groups have a rule that religion and politics are not to be among the topics discussed. For now we haven't instituted such a rule, but we will if necessary to keep things civil. In any case, subjects like that should be de-emphasized, and certainly the group is not explicitly for only Christians, Jews, atheists, conservatives, environmentalists, or whatever.
* A “men’s rights” anti-feminist group: This isn’t about hostility to women or lamenting the supposedly disadvantaged state of men in today’s society.
* A purely intellectual, impersonal discussion group: We typically don’t discuss issues in the abstract. Instead we talk about our lives, and we talk about issues insofar as they relate to our lives. So members should have some willingness to open up, and should be able to listen to others and talk to them in non-judgmental, non-argumentative, supportive ways.
The ideal size for a men’s group is probably about 4-10. If we grow beyond that size, we will want to consider splitting into multiple groups.
If you do choose to become a member, regular attendance is very important. At "check-in" especially we talk about our lives, and if you're there sometimes and missing sometimes it'll be like you're only hearing random chapters of people's stories. Obviously if there's an emergency or you're out of town or something then no one is going to be upset with you for missing a meeting. But we do ask for more of a commitment than that you drop in to an occasional meeting when you happen to be free and in the mood.
Diversity is a positive. We can never guarantee it’ll happen, but it would be great to have a group that ranged in age from college students to retirees, with men of different races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations and occupations, as well as different worldviews, personalities, and values. The more different perspectives we have the better, as long as everyone abides by basic group values like mutual respect and civility.