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Is 13 too young to tell your son that he is a man?

Some dad’s think that 13 years old is too young to initiate their sons into manhood. After all, if you tell a 13 year old boy that he is a man, then he might get big-headed and start asking for things like driving your car or drinking your beer; things that he is objectively not ready for.

But we are not talking about initiating your son into adulthood at the age of 13. We are talking about initiating him into manhood. There is a difference.

So just because you bestow the title of “man” on him, if your 13 year old son asks you for the keys to the family car, you can emphatically tell him “no”. It also means that just because you held a Rite of Passage for him, that doesn’t mean you are going to make him get a full-time job or move out of the house.

The purpose of a Rite of Passage weekend is to give your son a “moment” so it’s clear in his mind when he became a man. When a father does this, then his son does not feel the need to 1) try to prove his manhood himself through things like violence, video games, or the sexual conquest of women or 2) reject his masculine identity completely. When a father holds a Rite of Passage for his son and tells him “in my eyes, I no longer see you as a boy, but I consider you to be a man now just like me”, then the boy never has to question his identity as a man.

When you hold a Rite of Passage for your son, becoming a man is a moment. Becoming a GOOD man, however, is a process. Becoming a good man takes wisdom and maturity, both of which come with age. Good men are always learning how to become better men. Just because you hold a Rite of Passage for your son, manhood is still something that he has to grow into.

So no, your 13 year old son cannot drink, drive, or smoke, just because you have officially bestowed the title of "man" on him. Those privileges will come later in his journey as a man. A rite of passage is about giving him a starting point on that journey.


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