Boys' Rites of Passage

Our Sons' Futures

Posts Tagged ‘black boy’

Where Do I Fit in the Big Scheme?

Posted by Thomas on October 6, 2011

Before you continue:  

This post has 363 words. 

On average, it will take you less than 5 minutes to read.


Change is inevitable. Although we know this, it takes life events to make us know, see, and respect it. 

This year has been filled with deep personal changes. My mother-in-law, a close family member that lived with her and my grandmother died. My son graduated from high school. I achieved a special honor in my professional life. We just welcomed our newest grandchild into the family on Monday, AJ. 

Change is inevitable. Some we look forward to, some we try to avoid. 

In less than a month my son leaves for the U.S. Coast Guard—a huge change for him. He’s entering the next phase of his life—a space of greater self-reliance and accountability. He will be challenged in ways we haven’t discussed.


With this change (the next learning experience along his rites of passage journey) comes the question. A question everyone reading this has asked “Where do I fit in the big scheme of things?” I tell him he is better off at 18 years old than I was when I was that age. But, the question is the same. It is a scary question. All of us yearn for a deep sense of place, a deep sense of belonging, of mattering. 

In a recent conversation I asked him “As you move into this next stage of your life, what is your biggest concern?” 

His answer (simplified here) “Where I fit. How will being in the military jive with who I am as a person.”  

As parents, we do our best with the tools we have to raise our children to face the world. Our hope is simple; that we’ve given them enough to answer the big question. As much as we would like otherwise they MUST answer the “Where do I fit in the big scheme of things?” question for themselves. 

The journey to “know thy self…to thy own self be true” has truly now begun for my son. 

Change the World Answer the Question

Son I love you! I am proud of you! I’ve given you the best (and sometimes the worst) of me. Now, go change the world—answering the big question along the way! 



Posted in Black Boys, Mentorship, success, What is Manhood to You? | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Has the Rites of Passage Ended?

Posted by Thomas on January 20, 2011

Before you continue:

This post has 375 words.

On average, it will take you less than 4 minutes to read.

Life Shifts

My son has turned 18 and will graduate from high school in a few months. During the holidays I had a conversation with a cousin of mine. He talked about shifts—how, when we move from one stage or phase of our lives into another. I had not framed it that way but my son moving into the next part of his life is a shift for us as parents. So, what do parents do when the rites of passage ends?

Stop Living in Denial

I thought a good deal about this question, prompted by the conversation with my cousin in December. To some degree I was in denial—thinking that my son moving on would not affect me. Now, I know otherwise.

So much energy is bound up in seeing after our children that it is inevitable a hole forms once they are no longer under roof. Though I am excited for my son, I know I will miss him. In fact, many in our circle of friends and family will miss him incredibly. So what’s next for us as parents, for me as a father?

Parenting Never Ends

Well, parenting never stops. I always think of myself at my son’s age. I vividly recall how much support and guidance I still required in my late teens and early twenties from the caring adults around me. Though I feel my son is better positioned than I was by eighteen he will still need wise counsel. The formalized rites of passage may be over, but continued guidance remains constant. He may need us less but he will still need us.

Manhood Training Continues

I have been open with my son, letting him know there is a great deal of information I cannot teach him due to my ignorance. I have encouraged him to continue seeking out mentors—older, wiser men that are willing to continue his responsible manhood training by example or through friendships. In that vein his rites of passage program will last a long time. To all other dads out there take comfort in the parenting you have done; because the proper foundation has been set, all else will be as it should. No need to fear the shift ahead.


Posted in African American Men, Black Boys, Black Dads, Black Fathers, Dads, Family, Mentorship | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »