I have spent many years researching, speaking and writing about, and engaging with Rites of Passages.
I think of rites of passages as being events or activities meant to communicate (within a given relationship or community) a change in status, responsibility and/or identity. I know that sounds technical, but it isn’t. In fact, it feels clumsy to me, but I cannot figure out what to take out of it without making it inaccurate.
What I mean to communicate in particular to my sons (we are doing these for daughters too, but I am going to focus on the boys) are rites that tell them that I see them as becoming a man… and what I believe that means.
I don’t intend to spend a lot of time here on the philosophy of rites of passages, but I do want to offer up some traits of effective and meaningful rites of passages.
There is a lot to talk about within the philosophy of rites of passages, and I intend to write about that too… and I think the church is one of the last places where rites can be meaningfully reinstated, and I intend to write more about that too soon. This article is specifically just revealing the plan that I am working with my sons to help create ideas for others too.
Of course, there are dozens… hundreds of small rites of passages in the relationship between parents and children. My goal is to be intentional about as many as possible.
For example, we have property and woods around our house. Each year, we revisit what each child’s boundaries are… meaning how far they can go into the woods… to the ridge, to the opening, to the pond, to the other side of the pond, etc. This is a form of a rite of passage: I am seeing them as responsible enough to deal with a new level of challenges.
We also make kind of a big deal of certain movies:
Age 5-6: big deal of Star Wars Ep 4 is made… with episodes 5 & 6 the next two years.
Age 12: Raiders of the Lost Ark (and Jurassic Park). (more to follow in the future)
Then we talk about the movies – what is right and what is wrong.
Others include book series, tool usage, shooting, etc.
Giving something importance that isn’t all that important can be a great part of developing rites of passage for your kids… or rather, things that aren’t important outside of the importance you give them.
You will have to work out what they look like in your family. However, I also think it is a good idea for fathers and mothers to plan out a general format for the stages of telling a boy that he is a MAN (and a daughter that she is a WOMAN).
My belief is that we are not able to accept that we are a man until someone we believe is a man tells us that he believes we are a man.
You may want to read back through that last line until it makes sense.
So next time – the format I intend to use (and have been using so far):