Support your Heroic Parenting Efforts with a Coming-of-Age Event
As parents, we can all appreciate that raising our children to be successful, independent, and resilient adults is a hard job. We think about it continually. We experiment, learn and seek advice from experts, family, and friends. We do all of this because parenting is the most important job we have, our kids are counting on us, and we want to do the best job of parenting that we possibly can.
The reason the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child” resonates with so many parents is because we instinctively know, deep down, that the job of raising a child well requires more than what parents alone can fully provide. We parents need to find as many tools as possible to support our parenting, and that includes the community of people around us.
A coming-of-age event provides us both supportive tools and a supportive community to help our children transition to adulthood. We’ll explain why in more detail in a minute, but first break away from reading this blog for just a moment and write a quick list of the 5-10 character traits and values that you continually are trying to teach your children. To help get you started, many lists include things like honesty, kindness, independence, etc…
Go ahead. It’ll just take a couple of minutes.
When you look at your list, you easily will think of the many ways, on a daily basis, you’re working to teach these things to your children. We do this by modeling the behavior ourselves, telling stories, rewarding these behaviors (and discouraging their opposites), imposing natural consequences for poor choices, etc. As parents we are continually teaching, teaching, teaching.
But let’s face it, character traits and values are hard to wrap your arms around and figure out how to “teach.” We also know that humans learn best from experiences and from stories (as opposed to lectures and talk), and so finding ways for our children to “experience” character and value lessons can be difficult.
That’s where the coming-of-age event comes in. The coming-of-age event provides us with a unique platform to teach these lessons through structured, fun, and interesting challenges and activities set in the context of a special occasion. Both the hands-on experiences that kids get from these activities, as well as the stories that come out of them, help create memorable impressions that will make the lessons stick for the long haul. (See some examples of interesting challenges that teach character traits and values by visiting https://marca-via.com/community/experience/)
Secondly, we all have to acknowledge that sometimes our children hear other people better than they hear their own parents. (Think of the adult voices in the Charlie Brown cartoons – “wha wha wa wa wa wa wa.”) By pulling together your close friends and family to create and put on the coming-of-age challenges and activities, we leverage different voices and perspectives that will help our children hear better. Plus you get the added benefit of building stronger connections for your child and expanding their go-to adult community. Because we all know it takes a village!
The challenges and activities we engage our children in during a coming-of-age event strongly reinforce the lessons we’re continually teaching, and helps make those lessons something they will always remember. Every time your child thinks about their coming-of-age event, or re-tells the stories about the challenges to their friends (and someday to their own children), your lessons will be remembered.
Stay tuned for our next blog when we talk about the four key elements to a successful coming-of-age event.