• Rites of Passage That Motivate Boys—Mighty Parenting 212 with Dr. Mark Schillinger

  • motivate boys

    Rights of passage, especially those of transitioning from a teenager to an adult, are often critical to our teens’ self-identities and their motivation to move in the world. Our society has been shifting, however, and many of those rights of passage don’t quite fit anymore, which leaves our teens floundering and stuck. Dr. Mark Schillinger joins Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler in discussing how our current society and cultural habits have impacted our teens’ emotions, habits and future plans and how we can help motivate boys and girls into moving forward and finding who they can be as adults in today’s world.

    Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Player FM | iheartradio | Castbox | Podchaser | Overcast

    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    Dreams don’t work unless you do.

    High Points From Our Conversation on How to Motivate Boys:

    Quote about how to motivate boys

    Our culture has created so many distractions that it’s difficult to parent. Digital devices are so prevalent and alluring that our kids are losing their innate instinctual biological drive to get out of the house.

    Parents respond to that increase in lethargy, laziness or apathy by parenting harder, exerting more control, pushing because they want their teens to succeed and do the right things, and that leads to conflict.

    Everybody may be living together in one house, but they’re still isolated as everyone’s on their own digital devices doing their own thing.

    We are missing mentors in our current culture; adults other than parents or other related family that teens can interact with, ask questions of, go to when they’re having issues and don’t want to go running to their parents. 

    Children used to effectively be raised communally, by a neighborhood’s worth of adults. Now, in the past 30 years with the prevalence of digital devices and artificial realities, our kids are being raised, basically, by their parents and their devices.

    Where’s the motivation? We as parents are struggling to figure out how to motivate boys and girls to get up, get moving, and get out of the house—to go gain experiences that aren’t all online.

    It’s a struggle to motivate our children to get out of the house when they’ve been given everything they need to live while living in the house; there’s no driving need for them to leave when they can survive just fin where they are.

    We need to bring back rites of passage—let the kids have fun as kids, then encourage them to keep having fun as teens, but also learn how to have greater responses to the outside world that they will have to live in as adults. 

    Many ancient civilizations, as well as various indigenous tribes around the world, have used (and still use) rites of passage (for children and adults) for thousands of years.

    Rites of passage are also a point of commonality, where everyone learns to get along, to cooperate, to have more cooperative and caring relationships because they’re all treading the same ground. Parents also learn to moderate their discipline and not dish out punishment when they’re upset; and both parents and teens learn that they all need each other to better get along.

    What are rites of passage? They’re myriad and they vary, but here’s a few key elements:
    • Separation 
      • Separate the teens and parents
      • Make it a bit dramatic
      • The teens need to feel like their lives are about to change
    • Journey of Self-Discovery
      • Motivate boys with challenges
      • Mental, physical, emotional, spiritual challenges
      • Be authentic; you want them to find what they need to learn to fully develop into confident, happy, motivated adults
    • Re-emergence
      • Re-emerge from the rite of passage
      • Re-integrate back into current culture and society
      • Parents and teens re-unite and have to integrate what they’ve learned separately back together with respect for each other

    Part of the rite of passage includes letting go of the boy—grieving in a very demonstrative way for all the pain they’ve been through with all the people in their lives. To be a man, you have to know how to control your emotions. You have to know when, where, and how to let them out and in the right directions, and that you need other people to make it in your life. You can’t do life all alone.

    Current culture has done an excellent job of telling boys and men that they need to know how to control their emotions, but it hasn’t included that there’s times and places for control, and there’s times and places for release. If you’re in a safe space you can and should let yourself feel and experience those emotions.

    Parents can, at home, do small rites of passage for their kids. Give them some responsibility and let them handle it without excess hovering or directions. Make them readiness-based, not age-based; if they’ve shown they can handle this piece of responsibility, give them another piece.

    Rites of passage can be used as a process to allow teens and parents to adjust to the idea that it’s time for the teens to switch gears to begin adulthood. So the teens start getting more responsibility and the parents start stepping back on hovering and protecting their teens from consequences.

    Our teens may feel like we love them, but they don’t always feel like we trust them. So here’s part of fixing that—give them real responsibility and trust them to make their choices and deal with the consequences of those choices. Sometimes there’s nothing that can motivate boys and girls quite so much as knowing they’re trusted with important jobs or decisions.

    It’s hard to let go and let our kids go out into the world, and oftentimes we say we’ve done that but we actually haven’t. There has to be some formality, a real acknowledgement around letting go. Then there needs to be some mentoring, some less emotional teaching on here’s how you do these things because young people don’t want to admit that they don’t know how to do things.

    We have to teach them and then let them go. They may make mistakes. But mistakes are opportunities to adapt, to endure adversity more efficiently. We don’t want our children feeling afraid to make mistakes, and we don’t want ourselves to beat them up for making mistakes.

    When your teen makes a mistake, challenge them. Make them curious. Ask them, How would you do this better? What results do you want and how can you get them? What other ways are there to get those results? Then give them chances to work on the problem.

    Rites of passage aren’t solely to help and motivate boys and girls to transition from teens to young adults; they’re also to help parents change and adjust from being parents of a child or teen to being parents of a young adult.

    The real value of the rite of passage is that it’s visceral. It’s guttural and physical, not just a mental and emotional experience. Our brains and bodies are connected and actually physically doing that experience will shift our brains. The rite of passage integrates into our mental and emotional worlds through the physical activities we do.

    Ultimately, the bottom line of parenting is still monkey see, monkey do; what we model for our children is still largely what they’re going to grow up and do. So let’s model for our kids and show them that even with today’s stressful world, it’s not impossible to be happy, healthy and have meaningful, caring relationships with the important people in our lives.


    Rites of Passage: Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend

    Marriage And Kids: Why It Matters | Dr Terri Orbuch | Episode 27

    Teen Behavior: Punishment vs Discipline vs Problem Solving | Cindy Kaplan | Episode 31

    How To Change Your Family With Intentional Parenting And Daddy Saturdays | Justin Batt | Episode 87

    Decoding Boys – Understanding Boys’ Silence, Anger And Other Signals | Cara Natterson MD | Episode 118

    Our Guest Dr. Mark Schillinger:

    Dr. Mark Schillinger discusses how to motivate boys

    Dr. Mark Schillinger, founder of the non-profit, Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend (a modern-day rite of passage wilderness adventure camp) has been mentoring families for 20 years. Having successfully navigated challenges with his own teen children, his guidance and personal insights are especially key during this time when he is needed more than ever. His work with families will be featured on the CNN show “This Is Life with Lisa Ling”, November 29, 2020.

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit www.challengingteenagesons.com.

    From Sandy:

    It’s easier to listen and connect with your teenager when you are calm. Grab Sandy’s complimentary lesson on finding calm at https://sandyfowler.com