Past and present, cultures around the world have held rite of passage ceremonies to support their boys during the transition from boyhood to manhood. Examples of this include the Jewish Bar-Mitzvah and the Walkabout in Australian Aboriginal society.
To the detriment of our sons, society today does not offer a similar coming-of-age event. This leaves our young men confused, rudderless, and questioning their masculine identity.
Because the transition from boyhood to manhood is so crucial, our family developed a special Rite of Passage weekend experience for the thirteen year old boys of our family to offer them support as they entered into manhood. We wanted to make it clear to the thirteen year old boys of the family that he was a man now, and that the other men of the family considered him to be a man now too.
It is important that this Rite of Passage weekend occurs on a boy’s thirteenth birthday, as opposed to his tenth birthday, eighteenth birthday, or twenty-first birthday, for example.
There are a few reasons why thirteen is the magic number. It marks the entrance into his teenage years and is a milestone birthday. It is the perfect age when a boy is mature enough to understand the significance of the advice that is given to him from the other men, but still young enough to be open to unsolicited advice from adults.
If you wait until a boy is eighteen years old, it could be too late. More than likely, he will have already made some life-altering decisions by that point, without full access to the guidance of the men of his family. It is better to hold a Rite of Passage for your son just a little too early, than it is to hold one just a little too late.
You may be thinking that bestowing the title of “man” on a thirteen-year-old is a bit premature. It is true that a thirteen-year-old might not look, think, or act like a fully grown adult. You are not going to make him get a full-time job or move out on his own. But we are not talking about initiating him into adulthood; we are talking about initiating him into manhood. There is a difference between being an adult and being a man. There are many adult males who do not act like men, but act like boys instead. It is a man who respects the dignity of women, tells the truth, and maintains a relationship with God. We can - and should - expect that out of a thirteen-year-old.
Do you have a son or grandson about to turn thirteen? Are you looking to do something memorable for this birthday, to mark his entrance into manhood in a special way? Check out our new book Milestone to Manhood on Amazon here.