Creating a Personal Rite of Passage
Congratulations! If you have found
your way to this page, you have recognized that the passage from
childhood to adulthood is an important milestone worthy of celebration.
Human beings create rituals as a way to understand
the world and their place in it. The rituals we create –
from baptisms and brises, to birthdays, to marriages, to wakes and
funerals – help us make our lives more meaningful. They allow
us to welcome new members to our families, celebrate the milestones
in our lives, and remember loved ones who are no longer with us.
Among the most important rituals in any society
are those that acknowledge and celebrate the passage from childhood
to adulthood, and welcome children and teens into the larger community
The Rite of Passage Experience:
The Journey to Adulthood
We here at The Center are always available
to support parents and other adults who are interested in
creating a rite of passage experience for their children and teens,
or simply want to learn more about rites of passage.
When children enter adolescence, parents
face the challenge of how to assist these young adults in discovering
who they are and how they can live a meaningful life, and in initiating
them into what it means to be part of a community.
This quest for identity and meaning is natural
in children and teens, and if not acknowledged and channeled, can
result in them turning to their peer group for direction. While
at times this can be constructive, it more often leads to destructive
behavior like drinking in an attempt to create a shared ritual that
makes them feel grown up and independent.
So, it is important for parents to take an
active role in guiding children through their adolescence
and into adulthood. One way to begin this process is to design a
personalized rite of passage experience for your child.
This experience or celebration could
be tied to your family’s religious practices, or could be
secular in nature. It could involve just your immediate family,
or include a broader community – your church, friends, children’s
school, or a community organization. It could take place in your
home, at school, or in nature (for example: your local park or nature
Typically a Rite of Passage Experience takes
place when a child is between 10 and 13 and might include
the following elements for the initiate.
- Preparing for the experience.
- Spending time alone in reflection.
- Receiving knowledge from elders as a way to be initiated into
what it means to be a woman, a man, an adult (in their family,
community and/or religion).
- Spending time being of service to their community.
- Welcoming the initiate into the family/community as somebody
ready to take on becoming a responsible adult. This is often done
in the form of a community-wide celebration.
Please contact TheCenter@rope.org
for additional information or to request our assistance in
creating a personal Rite of Passage Experience for your child.
For more information on the transformative aspect of rites of passage
experiences, download “Rites
of Passage: Pathways to Spirituality for Adolescents.”