Saturday, 23 November 2013

celebrating teens--a rite of passage journey

Celebrating Teens
Join me for a series on celebrating teens. My role as a parent of a teenager is new, and I am only just discovering how rich this age is for my children and for me.  I will occasionally reflect and share ideas for simple celebrations to honor the growing teen.

I am always thinking about ways to quietly mark those rite of passage moments in our lives.  I had been pondering for some time how to simply celebrate the transitional place where my son now stands.  Neither here nor there, his world is constantly shifting. Some days he still needs me to be a mother to a boy, while most days, he needs independence and freedom to make choices, to explore the small world in front of him while learning how to be in this larger world we all inhabit.  He stands in a place practicing how to be the person he wants to be and I stand next to him.

But more and more he needs to stand next to his father. And more and more he needs to walk with men.

Recently my son and his father had the opportunity to travel together to Japan. While the trip was for business, they tagged on an extra week for traveling.  My son had been begging to go to Japan for years.  I had been thinking about ways to mark his entrance into his teen years and all it signifies, so this trip quietly became a rite of passage trip.  

The night before they left, I took my son out to dinner.  Before eating, I gave him a letter explaining that in ancient cultures, the 13 year old ventured on a quest, often times alone. While I could not recreate this ancient rite, I encouraged him to see that his two week trip was his rite of passage trip. 

And as he did his final packing, I handed him a stack of envelopes, one to be opened each day of his journey.  Each envelope included a quote or a haiku poem and a little note from me. Nothing fancy, just a little something to encourage him to pause each day.

The night he returned home, I waited excitedly, wondering about how this journey changed him. I will never know its depths, but I do know that when one steps out of the normal flow of life and enters a new land, transformation begins and continues for years to come.  

And someday, possibly years from now, I will see the light he caught on his journey far from home.

I would love to know how you celebrate the growing teen.


  1. How beautiful- the rite of passage is so important in any culture.
    I have 2 teens and I would like to see what you come up with. Right now, I am doing a baking bucket-list with my 16 year old and a creative journal with my 14...
    Nothing like your beautiful note writing though.

  2. I really like the idea of doing a baking bucket list. My daughter is working hard just now on her baking. I will pass along your idea to her. Maybe you could tell me more about the project.

    And what does the creative journal entail?

    I am amazed at how it is the simple things that add meaning to the passage of time.

    Peace, Nicki

  3. oh, to do it again.
    When my kids were teens... I was with YOU, Nicki. struggling through seminary.
    They were wonderful years.
    Glenn and I have always given our children long, long ropes. Emma's "Japan" was her time in Fiji... and Italy... and South Africa.
    While I was distracted, their father loved them up in their teen years.
    I do remember saying how much I loved their teen years... and especially, I remember how I loved to see them with their peers in this time. As though I were in a box seat at a wonderful emerging show.
    I remember Teddy when he was a toddler... dancing around your apartment as we crammed Anglican Church History into our heads.
    He was so sweet then.. and what a man he will become!