We can tell our son that he becomes a young man at the age of 13, but how much more memorable and meaningful would it be if we did something specifically geared toward initiating him and welcoming him into young adulthood. The culmination of creating men and women is definitely this: ceremonies. We believe that our son’s ceremony should be done by other men (Just as our daughter’s ceremony should be done by other women). There are two main reasons for this:
1) What better way for him to realize that he has new responsibilities as a young man than for other men that he can look up to and respect to come alongside him and welcome him into “the club” of manhood. He is given role models, instruction, and advice from other men. If you do not have men such as these in you son’s life, I encourage you to be purposeful in finding them in your church and amongst your friends. There are very good men out there who would not mind stepping in to be a mentor.
2) This creates a responsibility and bond from the older men who participate as well. They are given the responsibility to continue to teach him how to be a godly man.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to how to plan these events. The book “Raising a Modern Day Knight” by Lewis gives a lot of heart warming examples. One of my favorites is a man who asked his son, “Do you want to become a man?” When his son said yes he told him to get out of the car. He drove off, leaving his son thinking that he had to hike the rest of the way to where they were camping in the dark when out from the woods popped his cousin who walked alongside him for a time, talking to him about what it means to be a godly man. He then left and the young man’s youth pastor came out from the woods to walk along with him for a time. The story goes on with other initiation rites, tasks, and family members. At one point he has a backpack of bricks put on his back and blindfolded and told to find his father. All the men began calling him, but the boy followed his own father’s voice. You can tell where they were going with that….
Your options are endless, but the point is to make it a day or night that your young adult will never forget, feel loved, and know he or she is supported.
After the initiation or welcoming can be a time when other family members have the opportunity to congratulate the new young man.
The last thing we need to do is train our tongues so that we do not call our young men and women “children” or “kids” any more. Someone I talked to today referred to a 19-year-old as a “kid”. Remove the word “teenager” from your vocabulary as well. Your young adult has moved beyond a harmful contemporary phenomenon of being a “lazy, emotional teenager,” to being a responsible young adult who is learning his role from other responsible adults – even if they have to be reminded sometimes 😉