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From Boys to Men

From Boys to Men

Spiritual Rites of Passage in an Indulgent Age

A guide to restoring the successful models used by ancient cultures the world over to raise adolescent boys

• Explains the negative effects of Western youth culture and how it can be transformed

• Offers instructions for integrating basic rites of passage into modern family life and youth programs

For tens of thousands of years all across the globe, societies have been coping with raising adolescents. Why is it then that native cultures never had the need for juvenile halls, residential treatment centers, mood-altering drugs, or boot camps? How did they avoid the high incidence of teen violence America is experiencing, and how did they prevent their youth from relying on drugs and alcohol, the use of which has become so prevalent in Western society?

In From Boys to Men, Bret Stephenson shows readers that older cultures didn’t magically avoid adolescence; instead they developed successful rituals and rites of passage for sculpting teen boys into healthy young men. From Aleutian Eskimos to Polynesian Islanders, from tribal Africans to Australian Aborigines, each culture found archetypal ways to initiate their boys into the adult community. Stephenson explains the basics of rites of passage and offers insight into how to reintroduce these successful practices and traditional understandings into modern family life and programs for youth. He discusses the damaging effects of our youth culture and the negative teen products that are fueled by corporate America and reveals how we can counteract these negative forces by using meaningful rites of passage to create a society with happy and healthy adolescent boys.
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  • Park Street Press | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594771408 | 
  • October 2006
List Price $18.95
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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 3

Loss of Initiation


Adulthood vs. Manhood

Initiations were designed to help create a healthy and successful transition for boys from adolescence into manhood. One of the underlying concepts to these practices is the understanding that there is a marked difference between becoming an adult and becoming a man. In modern Western society we tend to lump them together.

Becoming an adult is reasonably easy in our country. One need merely live long enough to gain the appropriate age-related reward or responsibility: getting a driver’s license at sixteen, signing up for the draft or, in some... see more

About the Author

Bret Stephenson

Bret Stephenson is a counselor of at-risk and high-risk adolescents and a men’s group facilitator. In addition to his duties as executive director at Labyrinth Center, a facility in South Lake Tahoe offering classes and workshops on adolescent issues for teens and adults, he is currently working on designing and implementing youth employment and youth entrepreneurial projects for teens. He has been a presenter and speaker at the United Nations World Peace Festival and the World Children’s Summit. He lives in Lake Tahoe, California.

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