Rite of Passage
On of the key reasons why we see males flailing in society, or having a low achievement level, or involved with the law is due to fatherlessness.
On thing a father does for his son (and daughter) is that he tells them when they become a man. I have decided to leave behind this idea of youth or the 'teen-age' years and to separate my children's lives into two stages:
2. Becoming an Adult
It is the Rite of Passage that will move them from childhood to begin the journey of becoming a man or woman.
Rite of Passage Outline for Boys
A. Key Decisions
1. Choose the time. My sons will receive their rite of passage around the age of 14 years old. The rite of passage year will be the same year that I decide they are ready to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
2. Choose the men that you want involved. Which men need to be a part of your son's journey to becoming a man? What skills do they bring to the table? What is their relationship to your son? What virtues do they emulate? What wisdom can they pass on?
3. Choose the virtues you want your son to learn:
- perseverance, humility, courage, faithfulness, temperance ...
B. Key Elements to Include
1. Books: give your son a list of books that need to be read by the
end of the year. See my list of books for boys for some examples.
2. Journal: provide a nice journal so he can record his journey.
3. Activities: plan specific activities with the men you've chosen,
once per month that will bring bonding, challenge, and create a
E.g.: Pray the Stations of the Cross together. But make each
station in a different place and do something physical. At the station
where Christ falls for the first time, carry a tire up and down a hill 10x
and then pray the station.
4. Plan for the men to spend individual time with your son - imparting their wisdom, mentoring, teaching a skill.
5. Provide for your son to learn the skills of surviving in the wilderness: fire lighting, building a shelter, tracking, hunting, staying warm, finding water ...
6. Spiritual Disciplines: Confession once/month, Sunday Mass, daily Mass, Adoration, fasting Fridays, spiritual reading, Scripture memorization, retreats, silent retreats, ...
There needs to be a moment when your son crosses the line, so to speak, from boy to man.
I suggest the boy spend one night on his own in the wilderness and then on the 2nd night join the men around their fire. There are a plethora of activities that could be done in the wilderness depending on where you are hiking. The climax needs to be tough. Don't wimp out! Set high expectations. Be patient. Support. Let your son struggle through the experience. He'll need to trust you that you will be there. If he fails, go again a 2nd time and try again.
The key is teaching them to take responsibility for the decisions they make in their journey.
At the end of the year, each man involved in the journey should gift something to the boy at a public ceremony that represents what they see in the boy. For example: a hunting knife may represent his ability to adapt to changing situations as a knife adapts to various uses.
The year should be documented with photos and reviewed. The boy should then be commissioned by the men, prayed over, and blessed by a priest as he crosses over from being a child to a becoming a man.
The 'boy no-longer' now begins his journey and stays in community with the men in his life. Continual skill development needs to be planned, spiritual disciplines need to be maintained, his responsibilities need to be increased, his independence needs to grow and his father needs to walk beside him.