Wanted: Rites of Passage

Jewish kids get Bar Mitvahs and Bat Mitvahs. Are Gentiles stuck with "Now-I-Can-Watch-PG-13-Movies" as the only change in their social standing when they become teenagers? The Maasai offer circumcision ceremonies to commemorate the assumption of adult responsibilities. That probably won't work around here, but our young people need the affirmation of the community as they shift from asking childish questions ("What do I get?") to becoming a new generation of leaders ("How might I serve?") Any ideas?


Jess said...

I'm way behind on this whole thread... I happened upon your blog and decided to start at the beginning. So I'm working my way through.

I just wanted to share what a friend of mine does with her kids... she's kind of a mentor to me, so I'll likely do something similar. At age 12, with each of her kids, she has had a special party for them where adults of the same gender were invited to come and celebrate them. Each person brings a small gift or token and read a letter of encouragement, exhortation, or a commentary on what they see in that young person's life (often connected to the gift). (i.e., "here's a bracelet with a tree on it... the Bible says that a person who fears God is like a tree...", etc.)

When I attended her 2 oldest daughters' parties, these were very serious and emotionally-stirring events. The girls took it very seriously and the women attending did too. It was sobering and challenging, and a wonderful entrance into life as a young woman. I can't imagine what the girls felt, but I know they were humbled and encouraged by all the women there. It was neat, because for 18 years of a person's life (really for their entire life), they can have peers of a similar age to their birthday parties if they want to. But this one year- this one different year- will probably stick out in their minds as one of the most memorable in their young lives.


Mitali Perkins said...

Wow, that sounds fabulous. And very encouraging as I've just caught a couple of episodes of MTV's hyper-materialistic show "My Super Sweet Sixteen." I love hearing about alternatives to the unhealthy stuff the culture offers our girls.