Rituals... for boys - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 03-06-2002, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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As a woman, the start of her menstruation signifies (to me, at least) the physical manifestation of her entry into womanhood/adulthood.

I have two daughters and plan on having a 'celebration' with them and whoever they chose to attend to celebrate their coming into womanhood. They know about this, and talk about it a lot. They are ten and six. It will happen soon, I think. In a few years.

I also have a boy. He is nine. He is becoming... well... aggressive? .. I feel like he is lost.. not really knowing where he stands in the mix of things.

I am a single mother. So he is the only male in the household. He hasn't yet taken on the role of the "male" of the household, except in small areas where he will jump up to help someone when *HE* feels like it.

I have a friend who has a boy, eight years old. And we have been brainstorming to find some kind of ritual for our boys so they may find their place in society. In the past, it was when the boy made his first "big" kill: a bull, a moose, etc. something big enough to feed the entire tribe. They would then feast on his kill, and he was then proclaimed a man and capable of taking a wife, having proved his ability to feed a family. That was what was considered important: the ability to provide enough food.

In today's world, what is the most important thing a man needs to do to proof his "manhood"??? Make money? Make enough money? legally he can't start that until he is 16. But before that, there are stirrings within the boy and no outlet for these stirrings. By the time the boy is 16, he is so full of these stirrings that he really can't think properly, in my mind. I don't want my boy to grow up so confused about his place in the world. And I don't want him to think that his only responsibility is to make money. I had a husband like that and I left him because of that.

I want him to grow up understanding that people come before things. but ...

Any ideas, thoughts, opinions...

K. : :
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#2 of 4 Old 03-18-2002, 02:54 PM
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My son is only 5.5yo, so I don't know if I can help. I've been thinking about him growing up and becoming a man - actually, I've been thinking about it since before he was born. I know I don't want him to end up like his dad - not able to express his emotions - so it's on my mind a lot.

I've been reading a great book - "The Courage to Raise Good Men", by Olga Silverstein & Beth Rashbaum. I'm just beginning the chapter on the adolescent years and rituals are discussed in that chapter. There's also a lot of discussion in the book about single moms and how a male role model is probably not necessary for a boy to grow into a successful man.

My biggest concern is that I might unintentionally push my boy away, expecting him to become a man before he's ready. I think that's how my husband grew up (he won't discuss it with me, so I'm left to guess), and it hasn't served him well. Most people expect that we will treat our boys as men as soon as they begin to act or look like men, but they're still boys for a long time. They need their moms well into adolescence, and beyond.

I would love to see some replies here from moms who have some experience with older boys.
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#3 of 4 Old 03-19-2002, 12:51 AM
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Here's a reply from a mom whose 20 year old has only JUST learned to be away from mama's apronstrings! And, it's my own fault. We didn't mark his post-childhood benchmark in any way. I continued to do for him things he should have done for himself. Instead of "mothering", I suspect I fed my need for control by "smothering".
My son and I are utterly dedicated to each other, but he has made some big bad mistakes, and, in retrospect, I think he would have made better choices if I hadn't been so much in the picture. . .
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#4 of 4 Old 03-22-2002, 04:39 PM
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My boys are 8 and 14. When ds1 turned 13, I planned a bday party with a sense of ritual.

First we simply gathered & "hung out" - this was JUST family. Which, for him, was: Me, his dad, my younger son's dad & his wife (since he's sort of a stepdad and definitely family member), grandma's, grandpa's, siblings, aunts & uncles. Probably about 15 people.

I then called everyone outside to sit in a circle. I passed around a shell with smoking sage and cedar and related their historical uses as spiritual/emotional/physical purifiers and bringers of positive energy, respectively. Then, I had made a beautiful walking stick and attached some rocks, feathers, little meaningful tokens. I told everyone that this was a celebration of ds's journey out of 'childhood' and the beginning of his path toward 'manhood', that I'd pass the staff around and asked that each person relate some thoughts on ds, memories etc., and then give the gift of their wisdom/wishes for ds: sound advice, sharing powerful experiences, attributes they hope he will acquire.

It was very beautiful. I started, as his mother, and passed the staff around. Everyone spoke from their hearts; it was very powerful. Ds had tears in his eyes; so did his dad. His dad went last.

When everyone was done, I presented ds w/the staff and welcomed him onto his path of adulthood.

At his 15th birthday, I plan on including another ritual of some kind, as he will have spent two years on his path to manhood. I want to have him do some self-evaluation and get some feedback from his family members.

As far as supporting him in becoming a man, I just do what I can. I am also a single parent, but luckily his dad is involved and has him 50% of the time. I don't agree with all the ways his dad parents him, but am glad ds is given love and the attention he needs. His dad seems to be making up for lost time, and that makes me happy. I am seeing a wonderful man so my boys also get to have healthy male friends/mentors.

He is 5'11'' or so and has gotten quite muscular. I make him use that around the house and property; boys need to use their bodies (so do girls). He chops and brings in wood, stacks it on the porch and next to the woodstove. I have him dig holes to plant trees, postholes for the porch we're building on the south side of the house, pluck the turkey after he helps me kill it, move wheelbarrowfuls of dirt to the new garden site. This summer he'll be helping me fell trees and chainsawing them up. Just wait until gardening happens; moving the compost, weeding, pruning etc!

He's a computer geek by nature, so I feel it's my duty to balance out all the computer time he has w/his dad with physical and nature-based activities with me. (Kind of funny that he's so sedentary w/his dad and so active w/me- keeps me in shape!!) I forced him to get involved in a team sport and told him I'd choose one if he didn't- he chose snowboarding (we live in the mountains near Lake Tahoe). So guess what I'm doing on my weekend? Up in the snow...

A book I love: The Wonder of Boys. There's one for older boys (teens) that I can't remember the title of right now, but by the same author. Excellent book.

There's another excellent book that I love, not aimed at boys in particular, but great, short little book on wisdom/self-help (you can read volumes and volumes and not absorb it; sometimes I think simplicity is helpful). It's called The Four Agreements my Dr. Miguel Ruiz.

Most of all, check in with your inner wisdom, use the resources around you (if you don't have male friends, make some), support him is his 'maleness' but remind him that the most important thing is his 'humanness.' Know that as testosterone gets going, boys undergo a powerful physical change (like us at pms/menstruation/pregnancy/birth) and he will have specific needs to get met.

I am so blessed to have boys- they make me keep my vow to be very physically active. IMHO I think activity in nature is a #1 way to stay healthy overall. Can't get enough of it.

That and good, long, honest talks about life. Which reminds me, I need to have one w/my boys tonight; my students talked alot about the messages boys/girls get re: emotions and we had such an excellent discussion, I need to share it w/my boys!

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