Rite-of-Passage & Initiation (Part One of Two)

There is a much-needed focus today by both broadcast and print media on males and masculinity; you can virtually find a program or article on the subject at any given moment.  What I don’t see or hear is something I know very well through years of research, data and facilitation. Boys need a rite-of-passage and initiation to manhood!

In this Part 1 my intention is to ease your mind about those two terms, rite-of-passage and initiation, which are often misunderstood as cult or gang.  They have in fact been around for centuries! Our society today has forgotten or chose to ignore the importance and significance these have to the healthy development of an adolescent boy.


Let’s start here:  Rite-of-passage is a transition, and in its simplest terms means “changing from a boy to a man.”

Once upon a time, rite-of-passage teaching was innate between father and son. Fast forward to today, amidst the crisis of absent fathers and fatherlessness we see boys acting out in various, sometimes violent ways, and finally we are beginning to take notice.

It’s about time and hopefully it’s not too late!

Typically, the agreed upon rites of passage today are sports, education, work, Boy Scouts and war.  Mentors are found in coaches, drill sergeants, educators and scout leaders.  Boys self-initiate by smoking and driving, money and merit badges, graduation and girlfriends.  Few have something to teach, as is evident with the downward spiral of so many young men, more is needed.

Adolescence is the time traditionally chosen for initiation through a rite-of-passage.  It’s a crucial time for teaching the following:

  • Humility-by understanding his unique gifts.
  • Compassion & Empathy-by healing his own wound.
  • Contentment-by establishing his values.
  • Grit, determination & diligence-by setting his goals.
  • Self-discipline & impulse control-by understanding and safely dealing with anger.
  • Courage & honesty-by having these in the “tool box.”
  • Dependability-by goal setting and mission.
  • Leading & following-by learning conflict resolution.
  • Proactive-by creating his purpose=mission.
  • Serenity- by learning forgiveness.
  • Patience-by understanding his anger shadow.
  • Kindness to self and others-by building a safe container.
  • There’s integrity, gratitude, adaptability, sense of curiosity & wonder, optimism & positivity, endurance, respect, and hope.

Strong Boy=Healthy Man

When a boy learns these important character building processes he has the tools he needs to transition to manhood in a healthy manner.  Rite-of-passage initiates the young man by engaging his ego and helping create an identity versus identity confusion. 

In next week’s blog (Part Two) I cover healthy initiation; what that means, and more importantly I’ll remove the negative perceptions!



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