Why Your Teenage Son Needs A Rite Of Passage

picture-2I’ve worked with teens for years and have come to one vast conclusion. Teenage boys need a real, raw, intense initiation into manhood. Many want it and these kids deserve it.

When I was a teen, I lived a pretty easy life so it wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I started taking stupid risks and pushing my limits, unconsciously attempting to find the truth, some grain of evidence that about my life’s purpose or the meaning of it all. I did a lot of drugs, drank a lot and pissed many people off along the way.

Had I had a male mentor to check in with, to consult with and to seek wisdom from, perhaps I would have avoided many pitfalls. Not only that, it is possible I would have come into my own sooner as opposed to later, thus serving more people earlier.

At some point on the human journey, boys are supposed to become men. In our culture, we don’t do anything to honor, acknowledge and promote this huge transition. As a result, grown men remain boys even though they look like men.

What would your teenage son be like if he had a male mentor, leading him through a challenging ordeal and giving
him course corrections now and again, letting him fall down when appropriate, and mostly “holding space” for him as he heads out on his journey of self-discovery.

The price tag for no mentor, no initiation? One such possibility here. Please read. This is key to know.

You can listen to an interview and learn more about why a rite of passage is so critical here.

There are many resources for your son out there. Here are a few:

Boys to Men

School of Lost Borders, California

Sacred Passages, Colorado

Animas Valley Institute, Colorado

The Wilderness Within, California

My only issue with many of these programs is that the journeys are very short, even a month-long program is wonderful, but my professional bias is that your son needs at least a year-long program. Sorry, but a month-long Outward Bound course ain’t going to cut it either.

Stay tuned as I’m working on it. No such program exists currently.

Three more important articles on the subject here:

Into the Wild

The Problem with Grown Men



  • Liz

    Reply Reply April 15, 2009

    Sign me (my son) up!!

  • Bunk

    Reply Reply May 2, 2009

    “As a result, grown men remain boys even though they look like men”

    I think that you hit the proverbial nail on the head with this statement Jason. In a day and time when most men consider the articles found in Maxim magazine to be the unheralded truth to manhood, the rites of passage that they could have faced when adolescence could have steered them in a totally different direction in their path to find meaning as men.

    As a father to a 3 year old son, I am already trying to think of ways to introduce him to manliness as he gets older here in several years.

    Superb article my friend.

  • Joe Arnold

    Reply Reply May 25, 2009

    Loved your writing and I am just now putting together a program for fathers with sons on Whidbey Island and the Northwest region. I am beginning with two 13 year old boys and will guide them on a rite paddling up Lake Chelan along with their teacher. I have had requests for this from other parents and hope to create a program that will begin with boys 6-7 and their fathers. The idea is to guide them up to their early teens culminating with a hero’s journey rite that he can use over and over again as he journeys through his own adult life. Contact me if you wish

  • Erin Brandt

    Reply Reply August 13, 2009

    yes, pls keep me updated on your goal of a longer time investment.
    i love it.

  • Ruth Goodman

    Reply Reply November 23, 2009

    What about an initiation into womanhood for our young women? Is this important? If so, are they programs that offer a positive initiation?

    • jayson

      Reply Reply November 25, 2009


      Absolutely. This is not my specialty. But I would look into the School of Lost Borders and http://www.sobonfu.com/. Let me know what you discover!

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