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Elizbaeth

(Lack of) Rites of Passage

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So as I keep thinking about how to plan for the next stages in my kids' lives, I have found myself thinking about how to initial them into a proper, modern manhood. I strongly suspect that a lot of male promiscuity (I know ppl here argue that men just like sleeping around, but I don't think that love for the feminine form automatically equals man whoredom and the necessary lack of empathy that goes along with it.), lack of direction, addiction of video games, drug use, and other modern malaises that men experience might possibly be largely in due to not having a clear benchmark for when they are men. I wonder if they're not replacing a higher standard of masculinity with types of thrill-seeking that make them feel differentiated from boys. I've been wondering what type of Rite of Passage might be best for the modern day. Obviously we have ancient cultures to draw from, but modern manhood has very little to do with surviving in the bush. I wonder if it would make a difference to have a tailored, modern rite of passage, or would that make a difference at all? Should I just plan on a more traditional initiation, and hope that the lessons and change encountered there will carry over to modern life? What age would be best? I'm thinking as early as 11 or 12, but I don't know how that would work logistically with me being the stay at home parent. If I allow my sons to go off and "be men," then how can I mother them or live in the house as the responsible parent for the next few years? I don't know how doing so wouldn't undo the things gained from doing a rite of passage, since, as I understand it, one of the goals of a rite of passage is to sever the umbilical cords between mother and son, and set a new tone for the relationship. Would I need to look into finding a male figure to be the more constant role model? (The only reason I don't mention my husband automatically taking on this role is because he is the sole provider for our family. I would love to see him be able to have a much greater role in the family in the coming years, and he is looking for ways to give him more freedom and flexibility, but as of yet we have no solution. Not saying it's not a possibility, but we have no solid strategy for that yet. )

I think it's important for my boys to learn some lessons on mortality, they own capacities, limits, and strengths, and that they can be ferocious and wise. I have been doing research, but I would like to hear from other men about what they think is beneficial, and any other parents, too, about what worked for them or what they wish they had done. 

Also, if anyone has anything to add about female initiation rites, please mention that too. I read a few sources saying that just having a period is enough of a rite for girls, but I strongly disagree with this, although, sadly, there is not a lot I've read about what would positively initiate girls into womanhood. I don't currently have any daughters, but I think we still have some baby making in us and a daughter might be a possibility in the future. 

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Neither father nor particularly knowledgeable, but I do have a few ideas. 

1: Martial Arts. Nothing says "knowing my limits yet persevering" quite like regular sparring with boxers or other kinds of martial arts. I think, for exercise, character building, and self-defense, martial arts is a great way to get your boys into manhood as they'll at the very least know how to defend themselves and persevere in the face of adversity. 

2: Get them to try things that could be made into careers. YouTubing as a gamer is highly unlikely to be their future, so I suggest helping them find other hobbies that could be made into jobs. Like in my case the start of me becoming a novelist was being bored in Middle School. I had pen and paper, so I amused myself. Eventually I hand-wrote a dozen books into spiral notebooks and marble notebooks. Sometimes the "calling" (to a lifelong career) is unpredictable and random, other times it can be induced from childhood based on what was enjoyed and passionately pursued. 

Try to get them into hobbies that could be made into careers. Don't push them (or else they may resent it) but facilitate them if they express interests in creative stuff or potentially entrepreneurial stuff. Don't indulge sports-related career aspirations as they'll most likely fail rather than succeed (not for lack of skill--it's a free market in most other areas but sports is a heavily regulated and "elite" career path compared to being a novelist or freelance writer or anything else my skills would translate into). 

3: Figure out what they're strong in and weak in. Luckily for me I always had an interest in history (sparked by video games) and learning from others, but for other young men listening to history can be very boring and learning from others can be a challenge (by extension, maybe). If your kids are curious and adventurous, I think you'll have a far easier time educating them about being men (how you do that? I don't know for sure but at least teaching them ethics and being able to argue ethics and perhaps getting them into a productive hobby or martial arts would be a start) and they'll be far more self-motivated.

On the other hand if they're not curious and shy, I am not sure what to do then. I think in order to make your children curious and adventurous (without being stupidly so) you have to encourage it at an early age and reward them for seeking out new information and coming up with (to them at least) new ideas. 

Overall: I'm not sure. I think finding good male role models (does your husband have some good male friends you'd like to have spend time with your kids? Ideally a father and husband himself?) is very helpful as the few I had/have certainly gave me a visual proof of concept (an example of what I could become) that I might not have believed in without them. 

I'm personalizing a bit, but my love of history may have given me an edge as I sought out famous male heroes and tried to both learn from and emulate the ones I admired most. If you could educate them about history but make it a sort of storytelling (instead of dry facts, talk about the accomplishments of great heroes and how they did it and who they did it with) they may do their own research on their own and educate themselves. I love Japanese history because of historically-based video games; perhaps you could take from my mother's example (as many people I know--mostly over the internet, admittedly--love history because video games introduced it to them) or try something different. Either way I strongly suggest making history a focus of your life as I think all boys love tales of great men and how they overcame great adversity and what glorious things they did in their short lives. 

...That's all I've got. Let me know what you think as I suspect you probably already thought of #1 and #2 and part of #3, but I think my suggestion of teaching history through story-telling or video games as a way of sparking creativity and self-motivated curiosity might be fairly original. 

I don't mean to over-praise, but as a son I thank you for looking out for your own sons' futures as they may very well be blessed as a result of your own curiosity and dedication to motherhood. I wish more mothers were like you! :-D

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18 hours ago, Siegfried von Walheim said:

I'm personalizing a bit, but my love of history may have given me an edge as I sought out famous male heroes and tried to both learn from and emulate the ones I admired most. If you could educate them about history but make it a sort of storytelling (instead of dry facts, talk about the accomplishments of great heroes and how they did it and who they did it with) they may do their own research on their own and educate themselves. I love Japanese history because of historically-based video games; perhaps you could take from my mother's example (as many people I know--mostly over the internet, admittedly--love history because video games introduced it to them) or try something different. Either way I strongly suggest making history a focus of your life as I think all boys love tales of great men and how they overcame great adversity and what glorious things they did in their short lives. 

That's a great suggestion. I used to be pretty hard against video games and screen time - esp for boys, and I thought it was too much visual stimulation and caused a lot of disinterest in reality and created addiction - but I have really changed my mind and have been opened up to a lot of positive benefits of gaming. I have been really interested in unschooling lately, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like a sort of blend of structure and free-reign might be better, since I do think they'll need to know world/ancient history and literature. I can't imagine that, if they're interested, they would be curious about these things, but it would take them a long time, and there would be big holes in their discoveries if they were to go about it on their own. 

 

19 hours ago, Siegfried von Walheim said:

.That's all I've got. Let me know what you think as I suspect you probably already thought of #1 and #2 and part of #3, but I think my suggestion of teaching history through story-telling or video games as a way of sparking creativity and self-motivated curiosity might be fairly original. 

I appreciate your input.  I have thought about #1 and #2, but I think of them more as things to bring them up with rather than as a separating, liminal experience where they say goodbye to boyhood, are transformed, and come back as something different (men, I would hope). I want an event. I have ideas, and I think I know what the "plot line" of it should have, but I am finding it difficult to fill in the details and come up with a rite of passage that is relevant for the modern times. That's really what I need input with. You're a writer, right? Here's the plot line: (copy and pasted from the Good Man Project)

Pre-liminal

Confusion: The initiate doesn’t feel comfortable, he wants to change. He brings a question.
First gateway: He resolves to change and steps forward into the unknown future, seeking an answer.

Liminal

Dismemberment: He is taken apart, he is shattered, he is not in control.
Second gateway: He sees a vision of the future, he sees the answer. The answer is not what he thought it might have been, but he accepts it, he knows it is his.

Post-liminal

Recognition: He changes. He is different. He recognizes the changes within him. The wider community recognizes the changes.
Re-integration: He is re-integrated into the community, and is of benefit to others.

 

The problems are; lack of real community to return to, what to aim him towards that will be relevant in his coming future, and what type of event will help him shuck off his boyhood and encounter his emerging manhood. If we lived in the brush, I would say he could take some drugs, kill a bear, and come back as a man. I really am not sure what to do that is appropriate for our culture and how it will be changing in his lifetime. 

This reminds me of your other post about your first time going to church. I am an atheist, and I am fortunate enough to have been able to separate from a culture and environment which was very harmful for me. However, as I am approaching 30 and have these two kids, I have found a huge hole in my life which can only be filled with community and traditions, but this does not really exist for an atheist or someone who does not want to blindly follow tradition for its own sake. I am very sad about this. I feel like I'm having to reinvent the wheel in almost all areas of my life, and I wish there were people around me who could kindly, lovingly help me navigate my marriage, growing older and the way my own identity has changed ( I think this is also why modern women are balking at having children - in terms of our current culture, life for a women ends when her SMV plummets, and SMV drops drastically with having children. We have no use for the guidance, wisdom, or femininity of mature women. We only want sex objects.), raising my children, creating meaning and unifying a family, dealing with our mortality and declining physical capacities, or how to share what we have spent a lifetime learning. I feel these things very deeply and mourn it, to be honest. It seems like a crisis to me. I am trying to find a way to replace what was lost with traditional Christianity. 

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23 minutes ago, Elizbaeth said:

That's a great suggestion. I used to be pretty hard against video games and screen time - esp for boys, and I thought it was too much visual stimulation and caused a lot of disinterest in reality and created addiction - but I have really changed my mind and have been opened up to a lot of positive benefits of gaming. I have been really interested in unschooling lately, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like a sort of blend of structure and free-reign might be better, since I do think they'll need to know world/ancient history and literature. I can't imagine that, if they're interested, they would be curious about these things, but it would take them a long time, and there would be big holes in their discoveries if they were to go about it on their own. 

Naturally there will be big historical holes as they do research. There's a heck of a lot of it and a lot of nuance but the important thing is to have at least an ideal hero to aspire to become like (ideally multiple as few men are great in all the major areas but you can certainly find great men who excel in a few major areas) and from there learn about the conflicts and struggles of the real men. I'd be more worried of holes in more recent (i.e. post WWII) history as it's a lot more relevant than a great Japanese warlord who wanted to turn Japan into a Westernized nation state. 

I agree that you ought not to either be controlling nor not-there but rather find a way to facilitate them and guide them without holding their hands or making (too many) decisions for them. You ought to grow them gradually so they can make decisions on their own and view you as a wise advisor rather than a necessary director. 

As for video games: there's a lot to be said and I don't know if you're a gamer or ever were but there's so much variety in the gaming world that they're not all equally good or bad in terms of influence. Some can be very inspirational, some are simply very fun, others can be toxic (especially on the youth). The problem is I'm not sure you can just choose video games for your children. My mother sorta did that (especially when I was young) but it worked well because I almost always enjoyed her picks (and that may be because she herself played video games a lot before becoming a mother. She still plays games every now and then but not much compared to when I was a toddler and before). However if you're not a gamer (or were one) then you probably won't have much knowledge or sway over your children's desires to play video games.

My therapist himself only played a video game once in his life and his son (who is in Dentistry school, a few years older than me) likes video games but never let it come at the cost of having a personal social life or career. I think part of it was that his son had him to look up to as a role model (he even planned on becoming a brain surgeon or therapist like his dad was but his dad, my therapist, convinced him to look into another medical field as therapy is apparently not as profitable as it used to be) and they have really good genes. Literally every male in my therapist's family is a doctor or engineer of some sort. 

However... my conclusion is I'm not sure how you can positively influence your sons taste (or lack of) for video games. They were escapism when I was a kid as I had a very bad age 7-13 when my father was still around but once I no longer felt threatened or in danger I started to seek out things and got into writing. My video games became sources of inspiration rather than escapism. Now they're rewards for a good day's work. However most kids with bad childhoods I knew didn't make this transition. However again, I assume you will make sure your kids aren't fearful and looking for an escape. So you might have it a lot easier as a result. 

23 minutes ago, Elizbaeth said:

I appreciate your input.  I have thought about #1 and #2, but I think of them more as things to bring them up with rather than as a separating, liminal experience where they say goodbye to boyhood, are transformed, and come back as something different (men, I would hope). I want an event. I have ideas, and I think I know what the "plot line" of it should have, but I am finding it difficult to fill in the details and come up with a rite of passage that is relevant for the modern times. That's really what I need input with. You're a writer, right? Here's the plot line: (copy and pasted from the Good Man Project)

I think most of it is a gradual process. I did not become a man overnight; I was grown into it as I learned more and sought more and became wiser. I eventually did the adult things of work and taxes and responsibility to authority for the first time and they could be called "rites of passage" but beyond the basic things we have to do in order to get a living and legally keep the income there isn't much overnight stuff. Except where it comes to career and ideals. 

Inserting myself as I easily had that 3 part experience myself; I started off learning about modern politics and governance and was originally a Socialist. I learned Socialism was actually very evil and broken, which broke my enthusiasm and so I spent half a year recovering while essentially hopping from ideology to ideology until I could find one without a fatal flaw. I eventually recognized (as I had already to some degree) that the reason why I was fixated on ideologies and their heroes was because of the lack of them in my own life. I had no father growing up and looked up to the Communist "heroes" as father-figures. Losing them was a big but painful step towards manhood. Respecting the "minor heroes" I didn't pay much attention to and realizing how truly heroic they were was another step. Accepting my own ignorance and limitations and all the while charting how I can make my own life good was the next. In short my lifetime goal is to become a novelist and family patriarch. The income bracket I am aiming for is 60-100,000 per year and to live in a low crime and Midwestern neighborhood far from the over-boiling melting pots and hedonism of night lives and drugs. 

I don't know your sons so I can't "write their story" in advance. You could, however. If they're curious then that's a great start because curiosity is the mother of wisdom-seeking and humility (that's to say an accurate appraisal of oneself and others). I suspect your sons will, on their own power, become interested in the way the world works around 12-14 and probably have some "out there" political ideas around 15-16 (that I suggest you debate them about in order to help them grow out of bad ideas and teach them how to find the weaknesses of an ideology as well as to encourage continuous growth and wisdom) and finally be set on what they're about by 18. By the time I was 19 I knew exactly what I'd be doing for the next 5 years and what the markers for success and failure are. I knew what would happen if I shirked my responsibilities and the benefits of success. I sought ways of doing more in less time, making more of less, and otherwise finding ways I could make enough money to do as I want while also making enough to one day have a wife and children and actually be there to raise them. I am especially keen on being an active father in my children's raising. 

While I can induce a sort of schizophrenia on myself as a novelist, I cannot be so arrogant as to assume I know your children just because I know a little bit about you. I assume they'll be curious because YOU are (as demonstrated by the fact you're looking for parenting advice from an out-there philosophy forum and occasionally debating far-out ideas even as an active mother and wife) and you're their primary influence at home (I assume). 

23 minutes ago, Elizbaeth said:

The problems are; lack of real community to return to, what to aim him towards that will be relevant in his coming future, and what type of event will help him shuck off his boyhood and encounter his emerging manhood. If we lived in the brush, I would say he could take some drugs, kill a bear, and come back as a man. I really am not sure what to do that is appropriate for our culture and how it will be changing in his lifetime. 

Yeah, I get that. That's why I intend to found my own community (either "so to speak" or literally) and set the foundation for a very interconnected family so that my grandchildren will have lots of uncles, aunts, and grandparents to look up to besides their own parents. And for the generation after mine, at least my kids will have their parents and maybe a couple grandparents. We founders however have to work it with only a few like-minded hands, but in the long term our descendants will have it far easier so long as we set a good precedent and be sure to get involved in their lives as positive examples and advisors. I'd sooner emulate the traditional Japanese style of interconnectivity than the more recent Western isolation of modern false-families. They were far from perfect but definitely good for stability and continual improvement. I have a few families such as the Tokugawa and Mori to look up to for proofs of concept. 

23 minutes ago, Elizbaeth said:

This reminds me of your other post about your first time going to church. I am an atheist, and I am fortunate enough to have been able to separate from a culture and environment which was very harmful for me. However, as I am approaching 30 and have these two kids, I have found a huge hole in my life which can only be filled with community and traditions, but this does not really exist for an atheist or someone who does not want to blindly follow tradition for its own sake. I am very sad about this. I feel like I'm having to reinvent the wheel in almost all areas of my life, and I wish there were people around me who could kindly, lovingly help me navigate my marriage, growing older and the way my own identity has changed ( I think this is also why modern women are balking at having children - in terms of our current culture, life for a women ends when her SMV plummets, and SMV drops drastically with having children. We have no use for the guidance, wisdom, or femininity of mature women. We only want sex objects.), raising my children, creating meaning and unifying a family, dealing with our mortality and declining physical capacities, or how to share what we have spent a lifetime learning. I feel these things very deeply and mourn it, to be honest. It seems like a crisis to me. I am trying to find a way to replace what was lost with traditional Christianity. 

My compromise, at least for now, is to do as Stefpai does and teach Christianity with the aim of it being storytelling rather than treating it like it's totally true. I don't want to call myself an atheist because I do have a lot of Roman Catholic values but I don't really believe in God (and thus am technically an atheist even if I don't want to identify as such) however I do have some of their values plus what I learned of the Japanese, Chinese, and some European traditions. 

A benefit of history learning is having a large pool of ideas and concepts to draw from. I plan on having a sort of East-meets-West approach to parenting and family culture as I think there's a lot to be gained from the strong and sturdy families of Japan (although they do have severe weaknesses I make personal note of) alongside the free and flying families of the West (who have weaknesses we can all easily identify) and of course the parenting advances guys like Stefpai made. I plan to incorporate much of what Stefpai did into my own future parenting but to do so while incorporating my own knowledge as a history lover and Japanophile. 

And how do I plan on actually making that happen? Find a good woman, find a good place to live, and at the very least practice it with the confines of my household so that even if the environment is fairly alien my children will be armed with wisdom to dissect the good from the bad and make their own advances as well as protect themselves, especially their souls and integrity. 

Conclusion on the rite of passage thing: I don't think, beyond the basics of learning how to manage one's tax files and find one's career, there is a real overnight shift from boy to man. I think the way to do it is to educate and rear your children because it's a gradual shift and that by the time they're 18 they ought to be mostly certain of what they want to do and have the personal characteristics needed to seek out what's needed to make it happen. I think the big leaps in a boy's life are really when he discovers the truth of the world around him and when he finds his calling. Most men, sadly, only do the first by crashing into the worst of the world while failing to ever do the latter, thus relegating themselves to work they don't want and lives a wiser man could have avoided living. Therefore I think what you ought to focus on is building a strong moral fiber, humility, curiosity, and helping them find a career calling. Once a man has a "why" he ought to do anything in life, he can do just about any "how" in getting it done.

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Do they already know about guns? If not, that could be part of it, have them start shooting. Or maybe its when you allow them to have their own gun (even if by law you must actually keep it yourself, it would be theirs to pick out, clean, shoot etc).

Have a camping trip and make them go out in the woods by themselves for 24 hours. I suppose you would need to teach them survival skills first if they don't already know.

As a man I think a rite of passage needs to "feel" powerful, because as a child you feel like you have no control over anything, feeling like you have some kind of power over your own existence I think is important, so something that doesn't make you FEEL that isn't going to work well IMO.

Regarding being a man ho, not necessary. I do think losing your virginity is both a current in society rite of passage for men, and its also a good one. Male virginity is not valued. Even if some female virgins seek male virgins, the majority don't, and there is an over abundance of them anyways. I mean i've met plenty virgins and none had a problem with my extensive history. So I think a healthy sexual experience is perfectly fine, needing to make more notches than your friend or something I wouldn't encourage but unless hes lying cheating and stealing to get there, I wouldn't discourage it either.

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On 6/13/2018 at 12:14 AM, smarterthanone said:

Do they already know about guns? If not, that could be part of it, have them start shooting. Or maybe its when you allow them to have their own gun (even if by law you must actually keep it yourself, it would be theirs to pick out, clean, shoot etc).

Have a camping trip and make them go out in the woods by themselves for 24 hours. I suppose you would need to teach them survival skills first if they don't already know.

As a man I think a rite of passage needs to "feel" powerful, because as a child you feel like you have no control over anything, feeling like you have some kind of power over your own existence I think is important, so something that doesn't make you FEEL that isn't going to work well IMO.

Regarding being a man ho, not necessary. I do think losing your virginity is both a current in society rite of passage for men, and its also a good one. Male virginity is not valued. Even if some female virgins seek male virgins, the majority don't, and there is an over abundance of them anyways. I mean i've met plenty virgins and none had a problem with my extensive history. So I think a healthy sexual experience is perfectly fine, needing to make more notches than your friend or something I wouldn't encourage but unless hes lying cheating and stealing to get there, I wouldn't discourage it either.

Exactly what I'm trying to figure out, :)

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15 minutes ago, Elizbaeth said:

Exactly what I'm trying to figure out, :)

If it's that simple, holding a job and renting for the first time is a rite because nothing says "I am in control of my life" quite like having to be responsible for one's finances.

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Chores, develope a responsible adult. They should start by helping you out even if it slows you down, and low pressure offer opportunities for them to do something on their own...

Allowance, unrelated to chores, when they are old enough not to lose money, 1 week allowance equals enough for two small snacks/candies/etc., 2 weeks allowance is enough for a small toy (it is always their choice to save or spend, No pressure), 3 weeks allowance a book with change left over, etc.

Jobs, you can hire your own child, but it can’t be an ordinary household chore, hard work taking a longer period, etc. They can take on a paper route, help in local library, etc.

Allow them more latitude outside the home. Walk on their own to a near friend, stay out later, etc. (unfortunately I must warn you not to violate any stupid laws in your community here)

Shooting, very big step up, Go karts, other more important activities which can be seen as manly.

strict policy on dating before a certain age...

Camping, fishing, building a fire, cooking, age appropriate...

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Scouts at a non Boy Scouts troop.

Little League (if they don’t all get trophies preferred). Even soccer, if there are no other opportunities.

Martial Arts, musical instruction...

Every time you negotiate with him you are telling him he is an adult. 

The goal of parenting is to socialize your child, and teach them skills. You must build a good relationship, because if you don’t like your child, you will hurt your child (Jordan Peterson). But other than that, it is building their self confidence by offer them opportunities to succeed and creating a sense of self dependence.

Create a hundred Rites of Passage. Not interfering when they are skate boarding is one of those steps. Every time you tell your child you are a big boy now, you are a young man now (13 years old) every time you trust him with a new responsibility...

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