Just for Dads ~ June 2020

by Ward Williams

My friends and I made up a gang called the Rotor Rooters when I was in fifth grade. We wore black shirts, slicked our hair back, and climbed into local sewers to be initiated. This was a stupid and smelly gang, but we were plenty proud of ourselves for our bravery and knew that only a few could make it into our gang. My friends and I continually made up different clubs, gangs, and make-believe organizations that had a test or rite of passage as part of the initiation.

Rites of passage have been around in every known society marking social, cultural, religious, and lifecycle changes. Some cultures have very distinctive rites including quests, initiations, battles, psychological tests, eating weird food, saying prayers, chanting rituals and countless rites that are unique to that culture.

Every family should develop their own unique rituals, part of what makes your family special. We have a blessing book in our house in which we celebrate important events, including holidays, birthdays, and religious celebrations. Rituals help kids realize that something has been accomplished. My family celebrates accomplishments with Dairy Queen treats just as my wife did when she was a child.

With this pandemic, there have been lots of rituals postponed, cancelled, or celebrated in a different way. Just because this has happened, doesn’t mean it can’t be celebrated in your own way. What memories will you make during this time? How will your time during this pandemic be remembered? During this time, our family has established a ritual of a nightly long family walk where we have talked to each other more than we have in a long time. We are promising to continue this even when things get back to normal. As my son goes through a modified rite of passage of high school graduation, I pray he is ready for this transition and that he is deeply connected to his family with fond memories of the steps he has taken. My prayer is that you and your family are finding comfort in the new rituals that you may have established over these past months.

Ward Williams is the founder and executive director of Vineyard Family Services. Contact him at ward@vfsdads.com.

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