What does it mean to 'Come of Age'?

For many parents of teens coming of age, as young men and women, that time can be challenging to say the least.  At a minimum there are the attitude changes and hormonal ebb and flow.  In some cases it can be a time of crisis- chaos ensues in the family unit, shaking the foundations of relationships and lifestyle.  It can also present itself to adults entering a new era, a transition time in their adult life.

In indigenous cultures as long as we can look back into recorded history Coming of Age/ Rites of Passage have been a foundational component of a community. It marked that critical moment when a child becomes a functioning member of the tribe or community. Typically they would then assume a role outside of their home and become peers with all in the community as a whole. Granted some of these rites of passages were quite traumatic even deadly. We're not going there!  However the point is- we need to acknowledge recognize and feel the power of this time. It's a time when a young mind and heart and soul awakens to the potential that is universal to the Human Condition. And unfortunately in our 21st century Rites of Passage in Western culture at least have been eliminated. Yes there's the bar mitzvah and the bat mitzvah and the quinceanera, or the confirmation in the Christian churches. However those  are less frequent and less accessible anymore. Unfortunately the Rites of Passage are happening out of touch with the parents and even the adult peers in the community. This is to say that teens are looking to teens for some form of energetic shift., and acknowledgement. And it can happen as dysfunction or even dangerously. Often the consequences of our social media and misrepresentation of fame and popular culture/media cause the teen to strive for something practically unattainable or perhaps at least undesirable.

Why offer your teen this program?

We all know stress and its effect on overall wellness is an issue, maybe the key health issue. In regards to our mental health, an often overlooked group are kids and teens. A growing number of individuals across all demographics are utilizing online delivery and mobile browsing devices.

And yet...there is a dichotomy of social media and technology. Here in lies the basic problem. If someone is in a stress dominated system, they have a difficult time experientially creating changes (mindfulness steps are elusive, as mindfulness professionals will attest).

We, the community, need to engage these young individuals,.

How about social media, is it serving them, and can we use it in this case?  As Bill Murray recently stated; 'Social media is training us to compare our lives, instead of appreciating everything we are. No wonder why everyone is always depressed’

What I hear in this quote is people are having a mental/emotional response rather than an experiential awareness.   There is a need to create a Rite of Passage, as a tool to empower the individual teen in their own unique way, with the support of parents and community.

Where do we start?

The first steps for any of us are a commitment. We have to want to change, to have a new way of relating as parents, as teens, and community.. It has been said, “We become the hero of our own life, when we become tired of being the victim of our own life”. 

This is our call to action; to make the changes to empower us to become the hero of our own life.  This Rite of Passage/Coming of Age is an opportunity to support them on their unique journey. It begins with a simple orientation, included in the content below.  And, to understand there is safety and integrity in this program. As well, it must be relevant to your teen’s life, beliefs, and ideals.

What are the pieces and parts? 

We will continue to use components of the Take a Breath for Schools and Communities program. Which technically we represented as assess, adapt, and relate.

  • The assessment process means they are ready, it's time, whether that be an indication via hormones, or the personal growth, or the chaos and upset. Or perhaps it's simply starts with an invitation to discuss this program with them. To let them know there's an opportunity here.  For them, and for us as parents.  It is time...
  • Next is the adaptation. What are the components of the Rite of Passage ceremony?

We recommend this happen on a specific day best chosen in advance.  We suggest having some type of an archway, a door from the childhood and the past into the adult future.  This is where the child is acknowledged moving into an adult.  We recommend they do some journaling, some writing, or a video blog or some form.  Some form of expression about what their childhood has been. And what they dream of, or see as their potential for their future. 

We have an audio recording which they could additionally use as a model to support the process, it is a guided experience from the past to the future.  In addition, parents can also journal, or express in some way the history of their perception of this child's youth.  And the parents supportive dreams for the future of their child Coming of Age.

This practice will culminate in a time and a place where the child moves through the door into adulthood leaving behind something; a stuffy, a special thing that represents their youth for them. They then step through the door, leaving the child behind with represented as that object(s).  Stepping through as an adult to receive a hug from the parents, and the parents/adults have something for them - the car keys!?  An adult representation of some kind; perhaps relative to this child becoming an adult. It could be a piece of clothing, it could be a gift certificate for something more adult, etc.  Or a special heirloom of that family.  

  • The final piece is Community. This is an invitation for special people who know or support or have an understanding of this young person. In a physical space this could be a gathering. Around a fire, around the table in a living room. It could also be done virtually with a letter, an email, a video log, or a Zoom group.  Each of these adults in the circle acknowledging this young person how they see them uniquely and lovingly and offering their support in whatever way for their future. It can be a very powerful time in this final piece of this rite of passage. 

This represents the child who had the parents as the god and goddesses-their intimate leaders, mentors, and steward.  The parents were everything to the child. Now this represents the community, the village,  the world as one family if you will.  The key point for them to recognize their are  now part of something larger. It's also a powerful moment for the parents to recognize the letting go and the need for their all consuming support as parents now evolving to me parents still, but also as peers in the community.

It can be really nice to complete this whole event with something. I know some people have jumped in the lake or the ocean together with all the adults.  There will be laughs, and smiles, tears and hugs. It could be a dance party. It could be whatever you choose relative to this young person in the group. But it's nice to have a moment of celebration for sure.

Contact us for custom support and pricing for this program.  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment