What is a Coming of Age Ceremony?

Some of you have asked me about the coming of age ceremony we are planning for our almost 13-year-old son Kaleb. There were a couple different reasons to create this event. As a ceremonialist, I wanted to continue the tradition common to many different cultures, including my own Jewish one, of marking the passage from childhood to adolescence. I knew our process would need to reflect a more homegrown choose-your-own-adventure spirituality, one that would remind our son of his roots, while also giving him the freedom to follow his own compass and know his own heart. 

Then the social pressure cooker of middle school started happening in earnest. I won’t go into details because I want to protect his privacy. But the idea of gathering family, friends, teachers, and mentors that have truly appreciated Kaleb started to feel essential. I want him to remember there are people out there who see him and who have his back, especially on the darker days. As much as possible, I want him to understand that this next phase of life really is a transitional bridge. No one can give a kid this kind of context. When we are young, we can’t imagine the current dramas ever passing. But ceremony creates a context, as well as a deep memory of community acceptance. 

To prepare for the coming of age, we’ve included some  elements of the traditions we come from as well as some borrowed and new ideas. There are aspects of physical preparation, spiritual study, self-reflection, creative play, and community service. The ceremony itself will be a coming together in community to acknowledge and support one of our young people as he develops into the man he will someday be. So far, the process has been a fun experiment in life preparation homeschooling, for lack of a better word. 

Here is one of the study projects Kaleb has been working on. I pulled out some of our best wisdom books and asked him to pick five to read and reflect on. As you may imagine, he’s been choosing the thinner ones. So far, he seems to have liked The Alchemist best, judging by the fact that he read it in one evening. Definitely one of my top ten favorites too. 

Kaleb is our first child, so he’s getting the trial run. I’m looking forward to spending a weekend with family we rarely see and friends who have taken the time to know our quiet, earnest boy over the years. It’s a lot of attention, for sure. But hopefully the good kind, the kind that stays with you through the lonelier days and reminds you where you come from. 

Maybe you’re going through something important in your life, whether it be a marriage, a divorce, a death, a birth, or parenting a child transitioning into another stage. In addition to individual counseling, which can be really helpful during big changes, I work with people in creating personalized, meaningful events that reflect who you are and what you value. If you’re not sure exactly what you need, you’re welcome to set up a free call. Changes can be rough, but they are also ripe for growth. I hope you give yourself permission to receive all the support that’s available to you. And may that be true for all the children as well!

Some of the books he’s choosing from

2 thoughts on “What is a Coming of Age Ceremony?

  1. I love this, especially the idea of preparing your son through study and offering him such a treasure trove of books. I’ve done rituals and ceremonies in the past for young women crossing the threshold of menstruation, but not for a young man. Your son is very fortunate to have this opportunity for a home-grown crossing, created just for him.


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