The Conversations Continue
September 8, 2015
David G. Blumenkrantz, Ph.D., with Laura Remaschi, Ph.D.,
Ilana Bahbout, & Diego Galli
Children entering puberty is nature’s way of saying that something needs to happen. It needs to happen in ways that help children understand the normal physical changes that go along with entering adolescence. Children also need guidance and support to understand the psychological and emotional challenges, opportunities and social responsibilities. Parents too are confronted with the changes in their children during adolescence that impacts the entire family. Most important something needs to happen in the schools and community where children live. Schools and the community help children to come of age best when they link all of their resources within a common story of rites of passage. They also need to enhance the environment to provide appropriate incentives, rewards and public affirmation of a child’s transition through adolescence and into adulthood.
For millennia, civilizations throughout the world helped children move to adulthood via rites of passage. A growing number of youth development specialists believe that in the absence of community-oriented and culturally sensitive rites of passage young people revert to driving, drinking, smoking, use of drugs, and involvement in gangs to mark for themselves and their peer group their entry into adulthood.
"All you need to know you already know,
and all you need is already within your community".
Conversations on youth and community development through rites of passage can help us to remember how to guide our children through adolescence to healthy adulthood.
“Yin-Yang” - Painting by Jim Thompson
Youth & community development through rites of passage is not a program, or solution but a whole system’s approach that recognizes reciprocity between youth and their community. It includes interrelated design principles that inform and guide a community process that helps them to develop their own culturally appropriate community-oriented rites of passage.
A whole system’s approach to youth development through rites of passage involves connecting and enhancing environments and building competencies, which promote the positive development of children and youth in their families, in their schools, among their peers in their community and with a strong connection to the natural world. Youth come of age through initiation into these environments, which are connected within a systems framework that promotes whole human beings and strong, resilient and adaptive communities.
Through a community-oriented rite of passage process authentic partnerships are forged that foster trust, mutual respect and honors diversity across an array of individuals and institutions. Adults and students can engage in authentic relationships, in the place they live and work that weave a web of support during a child’s transition – over years of maturation - during the natural coming of age process.
Community and culture are what children are being initiated into. Rites of passage help children separate from the ways of the past, leaving childish behaviors and attitudes behind and enter the place on uncertainty from which new beginnings become possible. Most important these public processes affirm and welcome the child’s emerging adulthood into their family and community in ways that affirm and honor their new status. A place is made for them to demonstrate new skills, receive recognition and offer something of value back into their family, culture and community.
Unless you are welcomed back to the village and honored for completing an ordeal you become sick. The transformation is only complete when the child returns and is honored and welcomed back into their family and the community.
In our work with youth and community development through rites of passage we believe that the work of initiation is individual while responsibility for its transformative potential belongs to the community.
Coming of age within a community “Story” of initiation & rites of passage honors the central developmental task of adolescents - finding identity, meaning and purpose and a search for their authentic spiritual self. Rites of passage are the public unification of secular and spiritual practices that affirm an individual’s transition while creating the conditions for an emerging adult to feel a sense of meaning & connection with their community, culture, nature and self. In reciprocity it strengthens the bonds between people in a community in ways that serve survival.
In his book Change the Story, Change the Future, (2015) David Korten writes: “When we get our story wrong, we get our future wrong,” (p.1). If the children are indeed our future than the stories about how we educate and help them come of age are the most important stories we need to get right. When we get that story wrong our future will certainly be wrong. Our present reality is the future produced by yesterday’s story of how we educated and helped our children come of age 2.
Come join the conversation – share stories and weave the language of initiation and rites of passage into your work and life with and for our children our communities and the future of our sacred Earth.
Florence – Italy
September 8, 2015
3 - 7 pm
"Generational" bridges and crossings:
How to pass to adulthood in a community?
The rites of passage
At the Jewish Community of Florence
Via Luigi Carlo Farini, 4 - 50121 Firenze
Ponti e attraversamenti "generazionali":
Come passare all'età adulta in una comunità?
I riti di passaggio
8 Settembre 2015
Organizzano – Organizers
Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane
Comunità Ebraica di Firenze -
The Union of Italian Jewish communities Jewish community in Florence
LabCom - Ricerca e Azione per il benessere psicosociale
LabCom-research and action for the psychosocial well-being
Maestri di strada
Street Teachers Association
Center for Youth & Community, Inc. United States
1 © Center for Youth & Community, Inc. (For a copy in Italian download here)
2 From: Blumenkrantz, D.G., “Coming of Age the RITE Way: Youth & Community Development Through Rites of Passage. Oxford University Press, (Fall - 2015).Posted in ROPE
It’t time for a Paradigm Shift – a fundamental change in beliefs, theory and approach – in developing community-centered responses to the challenges faced by today’s Youth & Community. More here>>