Until recent times in western cultures, adolescence – a time between childhood and adulthood - did not exist.
Children at a puberty were simply considered adults. Their ability to reproduce was the sign that they were now ready to take on adult responsibilitiesIn western cultures, there can now be 6 or 7 years from puberty to the age where a boy or girl is considered legally an adult. In many cases, there may be a further 5, 10 or 15 years before marriage, the legal institution considered the appropriate framework within which to have and raise children.
This “in-between” time has particular challenges for young people, who maybe biologically ripe for parenthood, but considered too immature for the status of adulthood.Being a relatively ‘new’ phenomenon, it also brings challenges to parents and society generally. The latter are often unsure of what guidelines and boundaries to maintain to support young people through time time.
In Australia, it is a period of high suicide rates, of alcohol and other drug related problems, of unwanted sex and pregnancies and increased risk of depressive and other mental illness.
Increasingly celebrants and others consider that our society needs to develop a rite of passage that
- celebrates the coming of adolescence at perhaps 12 - perhaps better sooner than later - or the fact of arrival at age 13 depending on the maturity of the child.
- clarifies the uncertain nature of this ‘in between’ time between child and adult
- acknowledges the benefits and challenges of this time in developing ‘independence’ from family of origin, whilst supported by peers.
- affirms the preciousness of ‘life’ and ‘being’, and thus survival as a key goal
- the importance of family and peer relationships
- the responsibilities of parents, mentors, friends and peer support groups during this time.
Such a ceremony could involve families, peer and community groups participating as much as possible.
Whether celebrants are hired to facilitate or initiate such ceremonies themselves, there is a lot of work to be done in developing such ceremonies in the Australian context.
The role of a celebrant would be to
- work with the group to plan the ceremony for its form and content are psychologically and socially appropriate
- lead and guide the ceremony through its various stages,
- conclude the ceremony, by affirming the participants and the value of this next stage of life’s journey
Ceremonies are usually followed by some food and drink, again appropriate to the situation. Depending on where such an event is held, such a meal could be a picnic, an BYO luncheon or afternoon tea in a community hall or catered for by an appropriate restaurant or function centre.
Being newer ceremonies finding a celebrant to use may take a little time. Please contact us if you need assistance locating such a celebrant.
That's why we say:
- Let the celebration be your gift!
- Club together to engage an independent professional celebrant to work with you to the depth you desire.
If you have ideas to share about how such a ceremony could work or suggestions for its components please contact us