Thursday, July 23, 2009

Family Traditions: Coming of Age

I really, really, really want to incorporate some coming-of-age rituals for our kid(s). There are several that I've read about for girls; some get a new ring (possibly a ruby, for the red connection) to celebration the onset of adulthood, some get to meet with a circle of women from the extended family/friends who share about womanhood and give advice and support; some get a new book about body changes and a special dinner. One that I read about and loved involved taking the girl to the beach at night. They set up a circle of sparklers, and the girl walked into the center of the circle. A woman would get up and join her in the circle, and speak about what the girl meant to her, what she was like as a girl and what she hoped for her as a woman, and so on. It sounded so special and spiritual and very sweet; I'm wondering about setting one up like that for my favorite niece in the world...

For boys, there are other suggestions for honoring their transition into adolescence and adulthood. In one family, the weekend that a son turned 13, he would go on a long camping trip alone with his dad. Along the way, they would read and talk about manhood rituals, engage in a physical challenge (kayak, etc.), and so on. I like that a bit, but I actually prefer ones I've read about where a group of boys went with their dads for this trip; at a bonfire, the fathers would stand and talk about why they were proud of their son, what manhood meant to them, and what they hoped for the future. It seems more like the sparkler ceremony that the girls have... I like the incorporation of fire, and the idea of involving other boys and their dads. I also like the idea of getting other men in his life together to pledge their support for him as he enters adolescence. He needs adult male mentors around him as he grows; that'll be a challenge for us, as we live near so few of Joel's male friends.

For both girls and boys, I think they need a special day where they sit down and talk with mom and dad about the body, sex, hormones, love, etc.-- "The Talk"-- and I think that it needs to happen before age 13, when it's already been discussed by classmates and seen all over TV and the internet. I think we'll plan it for age 10 or age 11... get 'em early!

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