Rite of Passage in Youth Work 2

Yesterday, I wrote a post that looked at Rite of Passages in Youth Work. Read it here.

Reflecting on it some more, I think there are some questions we need to ask ourselves as we reflect on how we travel with our young people through these experiences.

When are young people ready?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, our culture tends to put an ‘age’ on when cultural rite of passages should happen. ie first sexual experience, smoking, drinking etc. But adolescent development teaches us that there is no set age for when someone is ready for this. An indicator for me is when young people start reflecting on things outside of themselves. The moments when they begin to realise that the world is bigger than them and they start to care about what else is going on in the world. These are signs that young people may be ready to move into a new ‘status’ and that a rite of passage experience may be helpful here.

What rite of passage?

Yesterday I reflected on how my first mission to London with my youth group was probably a rite of passage as it allowed me to put into practice some of the theology (god talk) that my youth worker had been teaching us. There is no one size fits all when it comes to this but an understanding of the young person will aid this discussion.

Who joins them on the journey?

Generations ago, men join with the young boys and lead them into adulthood. the same with women and girls. Children of both sexes had older examples that they could look up to and imitate. This has all but been lost in our generation because rather than seeing adolescent as a transitional stage between two fixed stages “child”/ “adult”, we have turned it into its own fixed stage “teenager”. Faith communities have the opportunity now to bring some of those ancient practices back to the forefront. There must be older men and women joining in for the rite of passage. I am not saying there needs to be a set age but it cannot simply be just their peers and there must be older guys for boys and older women for girls.

Any further thoughts? Have I missed things?


One response

  1. I recently taught my way through the “Quest for Authentic Manhood” series with the guys at the treatment facility I work at. Most of the young men I did this with are drug addicts or gang members. The series talks about becoming a Godly man. One of the sessions is on rites of passage. The same guy wrote a book: Raising a Modern Day Knight. This one also has some good material pin rites of passage.

    Btw, I agree with you on the premiss. Young people in our culture benefit greatly from a rite of passage and there are few available in our culture.This is particularly the case with young people growing up in non-iontact homes. Great Post. I enjoyed your comments. They got me thinking.

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