He’s earned it!
In the Brazilian Amazon, young boys belonging to the indigenous Sateré-Mawé tribe mark their coming of age when they turn 13 in a Bullet and Ant Initiation. The tradition goes as so: they search the jungle for bullet ants which are sedated by a leader who submerges them in an herbal solution. The ants are then weaved into gloves with the stingers pointed inwards. An hour or so later, the ants wake up angrier than ever, and the initiation begins. Each boy has to wear the gloves for ten minutes.
In North Baffin Island, Inuit boys have traditionally gone out to the wilderness with their fathers between the ages of 11 and 12 to test their hunting skills and acclimatise to the harsh arctic weather. As part of the tradition, a shaman would be called to open the lines of communication between men and animals.
n Ethiopia, some grooms-to-be have their own “bachelor party” of sorts- a rite of passage they must complete prior to being able to marry. Participants must successfully jump over a castrated, male cow four times while naked, symbolizing the childhood they are leaving behind them
In East Africa, the boys’ heads are shaved, and the tribal elders administer three deep cuts in their skulls from ear to ear. This leaves permanent scars
Jewish tradition known as the Bar Mitzvah is a rite of passage where a boy is called to consciously begin the transformation from childhood to maturity, becoming a “son of the Law” – a “bar mitzvah.” Since we are not under the law of Moses, our family desires our boys to become “sons of grace”—”bar chanan”—with the similar expectation that each begins to put away childish things, prepare himself for the responsibilities of manhood.
Tien will celebrate his thirteenth birthday. We believe it is important to establish milestones in the life of a young man, and this year is a time traditionally recognized as the threshold of adult life. we set aside a time of celebration and reflection to mark this as a special day in their lives. Likewise, we would like to invite your family to join with ours on this occasion, to share a meal, fellowship, and a time of challenge and encouragement for our son.
As a part of this celebration, we would appreciate it if each of the fathers would prepare a short exhortation or bit advice you received or wish you’d known starting out in manhood, and if you wish, a small gift as an object lesson and memorial to him. One example might be a hammer, which illustrates the responsibility of a man to use his strength and diligence to work, build, and provide for himself and his family, but also a warning that his strength can be misused to injure and destroy;
We don’t want this to be a burden on anyone—three to five minutes, and nothing expensive or elaborate necessary—because the focus is on your wisdom and counsel. Each of you has been a friend to our family and to our boys, and we appreciate your advice for our son.”
We often tell our kids the downsides of adulthood, such as a difficult workday or the troubles of the world. “Grown-ups should try telling their children three terrific things about growing up. Hearing those things from the most trusted adult in their lives can mean a lot to preteens and teens worried about their future,” he says. “Don’t make it general, make it specific: [Here’s] what is good to me about being an adult.” Your teen may still roll his eyes when you mention the possibility of celebrating his first shave. But if he knows you love your job, maybe growing up won’t sound like such a raw deal.