It seems everywhere I go, I run into parents who ask how my wife and I pulled off the “Rite of Passage” for our son and daughter, when they turned thirteen years old.
As you know, in many cultures worldwide, adolescents experience a ceremony when they turn twelve or thirteen years old. It is a sort of passage from childhood to adulthood, which includes a ceremony involving adults in their community and words of affirmation and direction. Oh, how we need this today in America.
So, I decided we’d make up our own in the Elmore household. In light of what we did, let me provide steps to you, if want to offer this sort of passage into adulthood for your children. The following are the steps we took as we furnished this rite of passage for our daughter Bethany…
THE STEPS WE TOOK
1. Sit down with your child and talk over the importance of this idea. A “rite of passage” is an experience or ceremony that exists in many cultures through history.
2. Together with your child, choose a handful of women (if you are doing this for your daughter) or men (if its for your son) to be “one-day-mentors” that year. If possible, choose people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
3. Call the men/women and ask them if they would spend a day with your son/daughter that year and be a “one day mentor.” Select a day and arrange for your child to “shadow” them the entire day—whether it’s joining them at work or at home or whatever. During the day, ask the “mentor” to share one life-lesson with your child; a lesson they wish someone had shared with them but never did.
4. Take your son or daughter to the mentor on the chosen day and arrange when to pick them up. The mentor may be very creative so be ready to discuss when and where it will be best to pick up your child.
5. Always provide a chance for your child to talk over what happened at the end of each day with their mentors. Help them “unpack” the experience.
6. At the end of the year, plan a dinner celebration to host all the mentors at your home or in a special place. This is for the purpose of thanking them for their investment in your son or daughter. During that night, prepare your child to read a thank you note to each mentor, sharing with them the specific lessons they learned while spending the day with them.
7. End the dinner celebration with a time of “blessing.” Just as the ancient Hebrews would offer a word of blessing to their children, invite the mentors to gather around your child and speak a word of affirmation and belief in their potential. It may be joined with a word of caution as well. But speak to them about their future. You may even want to end the evening by asking a mentor to pray over your child.
We created a little different experience for our son, Jonathan when he turned 13. This is because males often relate to people a bit different than females do. I worked with four other dads and as a group introduced them to outstanding men in our community. We exposed them to greatness and discussed important character issues we wanted them to master.
If you want to learn further details about how we planned this for our son, or further details about our daughter’s experience, I share these in some of our resources at Growing Leaders. The following books or PDFs contain details of the stories:
1. Book: Life Giving Mentors.
2. PDF: 52 Leadership Ideas You Can Use with Students
3. Book: Nurturing the Leader Within Your Child
You can find these resources in our store at: www.GrowingLeaders.com.
Here’s to preparing a new generation for life and leadership as adults. May we provide them with emotional intelligence, robust character and leadership perspective. May they eventually change the world, just like they believe they can.