Celebrate Coming of Age Rites of Passage

This is a time to use some creativity and insight about what your child turning into an adolescent or your adolescent turning young adult might like. One thing I think that is universal to any Coming of Age ceremony is the planning of special time with an adult or adults in the child's/youth's life. Planning a special dinner with just the teen or a camping trip is a way to say that we recognize the passage of time and that the child is growing up. There are huge celebrations planned in some religious traditions, but don't be intimidated by those big celebrations into doing nothing! A quiet and meaningful time can be as simple as a dinner at home with special readings. The book Coming of Age, A Treasury of Poems, Quotations and Readings on Growing Up collected by Edward Searl is a great place to get such readings.

I love this quote from Mary Pipher: "Maturity involves being honest and true to oneself, making decisions based on a conscious internal process, assuming responsibility for one's decisions, having healthy relationships with others and developing one's own true gifts. It involves thinking about one's environment and deciding what one will and won't accept." Decorate a frame for your child and frame this or another special quote that captures your feelings about maturity.

Coming of age is also a great time to pass down special keepsakes from family members—a true statement that the maturing young person represents the future.

Many Unitarian Universalist churches have Coming of Age programs for teens where they look at themselves and the big questions in life. It would worth looking into for a group experience for your youth.

This is also the perfect time to write your growing child a letter telling how you treasure him or her, your hopes for the future, and what values you hope your child will have. It should be a time to talk about how far he or she has come and how far is still left to go! Talk to your child about the life lessons you have learned that might help along the way. Present this at a special time in a special envelope.

Adapt Existing Ceremonies

Choose a traditional coming-of-age ceremony, such as a Mexican Quinceanera. Adapt it by substituting your values and symbols for the traditional elements.

(Also see the Appendix for great movies with themes related to coming-of-age and other issues of finding one's identity.)

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