My son’s tenth birthday was coming up. While talking with him about how to celebrate and trying to convince him just to stay little, he proudly announced that he wanted to turn 10 so he could “do more manly things.” His stance was honestly pretty cute, but it started to sink in that this little boy before me is turning into a young man.
As much as we all want our sons to stay little, there really is no stopping the clock. We might as well find ways to mark their transitions into manhood and encourage our boys to become the best men they can be. These 5 boys’ rites of passage can be memorable experiences for both mom and son.
Host a ceremonial dinner.
Connecting your son to a wider community provides him with other men he can look up to. Since they were babies, our sons have had men around them who know them well and can speak truth into their lives. This has become essential for us since they tend to listen less to us and more to others. Inviting these men over for a ceremonial dinner is a great way to mark their journey into manhood. Even if you don’t have guys like this in your son’s life, pick the birthday or date that you’d like to mark as the beginning of his journey and make a big deal out of it.
Encourage him in his faith.
Recently my son asked me if he could have a blank notebook that he found in my office to write his prayers down like I do. It was an expensive one, but I’m glad I gave it to him—he treasures it! I often spot him writing short prayers in it. For boys, rites of passage mean owning their own beliefs. Encourage your son in his faith with a leather-bound Bible or ask him if he’s ready to get baptized. Choosing to follow Jesus is no small decision. It will change your son’s life! It will affect who he chooses to marry and how he raises his kids. Encouraging him to pursue God and marking his decision with a celebration will let him know he is supported as he owns his own faith.
Teach him a survival skill.
Teaching your son a new skill such as whittling with a pocket knife or starting a fire feels like a predictable addition to the list of boys’ rites of passage. But survival skills exist for a reason. Learning and mastering these types of skills will teach him how to do something with caution and care. He won’t just be building a fire; he’ll be building his confidence while learning a skill that can help himself and others. You can also teach him new skills in the kitchen. Teaching my son how to cut his own apple with a sharp knife might seem small, but showing me that he is able to handle that responsibility with care has led me to trust him with bigger responsibilities in the kitchen that have helped me tremendously.
Have “the talk.”
When our oldest son turned 10, we had “the talk.” I wanted to make sure that he heard about sex from me and not some kid at school who has no idea what he’s talking about. It also helped make sure he understood our value system behind sex. I had planned on doing the same with his younger brother, but the kids at school beat me to it! To prevent having to do some damage control and since there is no formula for the perfect time to talk to your son about sex, consider bringing it up sooner. Normalize talking about sex so that the conversation is easier to bring up. It’s strange giving them such adult information, but I’m glad they have real information to help them grow up into men of dignity.
Give him hard work to do by himself.
Giving your son a chance to do something on his own will mark stepping into manhood because it separates him from you. As much as we want to keep them near us all the time, letting your son drive a car, mow the lawn, or get a job will communicate that you trust him and believe in him. It teaches him the value of hard work and allows him to participate in the world as an independent man. Lending our sons heavier responsibility gives them just the right amount of weight to help them take their lives and purpose seriously.
Lending our sons heavier responsibility gives them just the right amount of weight to help them take their lives and purpose seriously.
Do you have any good boys’ rites of passage to add? What are some ways you have seen your son grow into a man?