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Adulthood Rites of Passage

Initiating adolescents into adult status in the community

Susan M. Mumm, MA

In the past, in many primitive cultures, rituals to initiate adolescents into adult status in the community served as very important rites of passage for young men and women. Only a small minority of young adults in the United States today participate in young adulthood rites of passage. Those of the Jewish faith participate in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration. We currently have no secular rituals to assist young adults in making the transition to full adult citizens in our society. I believe very strongly that we are neglecting some very important needs by not having such rituals.

After doing some reading about what adulthood ceremonies were like historically, and giving some serious thought to what functions they need to serve in the here and now, I have concluded that it would be most workable for emerging young adults to participate in two adulthood rites of passage. The first ceremony would happen at the age of thirteen, and the second one at eighteen.

At thirteen, young people begin the stage of young adulthood; age eighteen is the end of young adulthood, and the beginning of full adulthood. I have thus designed a separate ceremony for each of these passages. The ceremonies are just examples; readers are encouraged to use these ceremonies as food for thought in designing their own rituals.

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