I come to you all as a concerned mother of boys, and mostly about that transition from boyhood to manhood, and what that really means to the male counterparts of our species. I am looking at the difference between men and women and seeing a great divide in how becoming an adult is celebrated. Women are generally considered women when they start menstruating (not going into details guys so please keep reading). It is a biological clock which gives a clear physical distinction between child and adult, but men do not have this clock, this alarm that says “You are an adult.”
Back when we were all tribal, there were ceremonies that went with becoming an adult and the whole tribe would see that as the time when boys were expected to join the ranks of the men and protect and help provide for family and tribe. Now many of the behaviors that I am going to mention do apply to both male and female, but since I am concerned about my children, I am going to stick to the male half of this problem, concern, issue….whatever you would like to call it.
Our society does seem to allow for some rites of passage, but not really a clear cut distinction between adult and child. At, about 13 you go from elementary to junior high school. Which is not the line that you become an adult yet, because you still have years of learning ahead of you. At this point, males in a traditional Jewish community are considered an adult when they have their Bar Mitzvah (even though I have heard it said this is not completely accurate). I still would have problems considering a 13 year old a man.
Then at 16, we allow you to be tested and become one of the drivers on the road, but even though our male maybe responsible for his behavior behind the wheel and possibly even shaving, we still allow them their moments of donuts in the parking lot or racing each other on some country back road in the middle of nowhere. And what do we do? We say “Boys will be boys” and laugh it off; so clearly not an adult yet.
High school graduation and the 18th birthday seem to come close together so we are lumping them as one. Graduating from high school means that part of your life if over, the formative education years anyway, but most of us go on to college and spend 2-5 more years learning a trade or skill to gain a better paying job, so childhood is not over in that respect. According to secular law, 18 is the age of majority and carries with it the ability to vote and to be considered your own person and not an extension of your parents, but you are still not fully and adult because you do not have all your rights yet. And again, since you are still in school and have not joined the ranks of the job holder, we still allow that boys will be boys mentality when they get busted for underage drinking or attempting to have sex in the back of a car (which has probably been happening since the whole driver’s license part, but being a mom hard to face so let me have my fantasy, ok?)
Now there is college and academic probation and still I see that boys will be boys mentality with my friends who have kids that age, and the same through pregnancy scares, and underage drinking arrests…and then there is 21 and DUI’s and depending on the boy, illegal drugs….and still oh, it’s just boys being boys. So, when really, do we abandon this thinking and start telling our boys, it is time to grow up, and be responsible and be a man?