What we're about
**Note much of this text has been borrowed from the founder of our sister club in Southfield, known as the Oakland County Men's Group. Many thanks to him for helping me to start this group!**
A men’s group is an opportunity for a small group of men to provide mutual support and friendship and facilitate emotional growth.
Meetings take place every other Wednesday evening. We start at 6:00 PM. We go for as long as the discussion stays lively (or until some members begin to nod off). Meetings run anywhere from an hour and a half to four hours; typical is probably about three hours. There is a break in the middle.
Currently, we are meeting in a conference room at the Rochester Public Library. (There is no affiliation; we're merely renting a meeting room there.) We have a sister club in Southfield, known as the Oakland County Men's Group.
Cost (for renting the room and for maintaining the group on Meetup) is split equally among all active members.
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 want to be listened to this week, and don’t want comments or advice). Then, following a short break, the remainder of the meeting usually is a discussion of a topic chosen by that week’s facilitator. We rotate who is facilitator each meeting. In addition to chairing the meeting and choosing the discussion topic, the facilitator brings snacks for the members.
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 our fathers influenced us, and how we can best retain the positive influences and free ourselves of the destructive forces.
* As men, do we define ourselves too much regarding work and career?
* Are we living our lives by the values we claim to believe?
But 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 law, but we will if necessary to keep things civil. In any case, subjects like that should be de-emphasized, and indeed, 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 problems 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 speak to them in non-judgmental, non-argumentative, supportive ways.
If you do choose to become a member, regular attendance is essential. 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. 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 into an occasional session 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 fundamental group values like mutual respect and civility.