Rite-of-Passage & Initiation (Part Two)

Last week I explained “rite-of-passage” and the important processes an adolescent boy goes through to become an initiated man.  Now let’s cover what being an initiated man means!

Initiation to Manhood

Adolescence ranges from 11-18 years of age. According to theorist, this stage of life is crucial; it gives individuals the challenge of establishing an identity, which can lead to a positive self-concept. It is not uncommon for boys to experience a surge of aggression during their adolescent years.

Many cultures offer boys challenges that enable them to find their identities and learn responsible behavior. The initiation by male elders help the boys move from their mother’s world to their father’s world.

As civilization developed (Industrial Revolution) and grew more complicated, more situations arose (long work hours, traveling for work, divorce etc.) where the father’s teaching role was taken over by others.

The fundamental problem in the continuation of a decent life everywhere in the world is the question of the socialization of young males.

Why It’s Important

There is a need to initiate all boys, because most of the development of the young male’s heroic identity takes place during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.

Initiation rituals for teenage boys in America are basically non-existent.

Some of the primary experiences and lessons a boy goes through in an initiation are:

  1. Respect for the feminine-mother, women, female community.
  2. Anger management
  3. Mentoring
  4. Spiritual connection to the divine through personal rituals of renewal.
  5. Religious rituals for communal protection and growth, the acceptance of fear and to power through it.
  6. A male role and the important life work that goes with that role.
  7. Respect for one’s own flaws and limitations.
  8. Integration of one’s shadow side of personality into one’s life.
  9. Communication skills
  10. Relationship training
  11. Knowledge of the natural world.
  12. Values and morals

The decline in these experiences is evident in our society, resulting in behavior disorders, at-risk youth, and various emotional disorders.

What He’s Missing

Today, initiation into manhood is conducted in unconscious manner as young men unthinkingly try to initiate themselves by the way they drive, drink, rebel against their parents or society, or treat women.

Ask yourself this question. “What can we all do to shape boys into healthy men?”

A boy needs adventure and a sense of mission, competition, group involvement, and a healthy male example. It is these very same needs that people fear, and if not met, are found in unhealthy ways and examples.

I hope I’ve calmed some fears and explained what both a “rite-of-passage and initiation” mean, I also talk about it at length here on The Tom Roten Morning Show.  

Finally, I hope I’ve conveyed the importance of these in an adolescent boy’s life as he navigates the turbulent teens.



  1. Angie on April 22, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Great article. Before going through the program I kept asking “What is wrong with him?”, not realizing that there is this huge shift from boyhood to manhood that happens. Being a woman I had no clue that this happens. I took everything personal and blamed my son. Now, after the program, I get that a “rite of passage” happens and if parents do not help in this your son will look to others and their peers on what it looks like to be a man. It was not that he was being “bad” he was trying to navigate this path that we never knew or taught him about. You can’t give something you don’t have but now that we know and have the tools we finally get it and can support him growing into the man he sees himself as. Not who we think he should be. And his Dad now knows how important his role is in our sons life. It’s a bigger role than when he was little and it is a pivotal relationship to cultivate and encourage as a Mom. Send those men out to do their men things! It nurtures confidence and Dads build a healthy relationship with their sons. Can never “Thank you” enough for your work and dedication to families but especially your mission to our boys. Thank you for being their voice when we (parents) are not listening to them.

    • Clayton Lessor on April 22, 2018 at 11:15 am

      Thank you for changing and honoring his growth! It’s feedback like this that gives me hope and confidence for the next family!

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