Why Fathers Shouldn’t Initiate Their Sons Into Manhood

As any man can tell you, there is no better gift than your first time. That’s why father and son relationships are so important in today’s world. While it might seem like a good idea to start teaching your boy how to shave or taking him out on the town for his birthday, these fathers will regret that decision come Father’s Day next year when their sons don’t call them daddy as often as they used too.

The “art of manliness raising a son” is a blog that talks about the importance of fathers and sons. It discusses why fathers shouldn’t initiate their sons into manhood.


We’ve already discussed the significance of a rite of passage or introduction into manhood for young males. Society has evolved rituals to assist young males transition from adolescence to adulthood — from dependency to independence — throughout history and throughout cultures.  

Cultural anthropologists have highlighted that rites of passage in the West have fallen owing to a variety of issues, including distrust of rituals and community breakdown. The consequent absence of transitions and pivot points might be one of the major causes of men’s problems today. Young men are left to be buffeted by the storms of anomie and nihilism without an initiatic experience into healthy, grounded masculinity. They are locked in limbo instead of moving into their duties and responsibilities and obtaining a feeling of confidence, competence, and purpose. Their male energy becomes destructive rather than constructive.

Because there aren’t many culturally rooted rites of passage in today’s society, some dads opt to make their own “DIY” coming-of-age difficulties for their kids. However, although this is a wonderful concept, dads are not the right people for the task.

Why Shouldn’t Fathers Be the Ones to Introduce Their Sons to Manhood?

We frequently think of dads introducing their sons into the mysteries of manhood when we think about traditional rites of passage.

In both mythology and traditional cultures, however, it is seldom the father who actively teaches the initiate, as Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk who writes about male spirituality and performs rites of passage for males, points out in his book From Wild Man to Wise Man. Instead, in coming-of-age rites, an older male cousin or friend of the father (or a group of such relatives and friends) takes the lead. 

For his entrance into the ministry, Jesus went to John the Baptist, an elder male relative. 

In the myth of Iron John, the wild man, Iron John, rather than the prince’s father, oversaw the young prince’s introduction into adulthood, according to poet Robert Bly.

It was not Odysseus who introduced his son Telemachus into manhood in the Odyssey; it was Odysseus’ friend Mentor who did so (and it is from this account that we derive the English term “mentor”). Of course, Odysseus was unavailable for the task, but the mythology is based on an archetypal pattern that extends beyond the poem’s specific facts.

This dynamic may also be seen in contemporary tales. In our cinematic tales, a boy is mentored by someone other than his father, whether or not his father is present: English teacher John Keating and his students in Dead Poets Society; Obi-Wan Kenobi (and Yoda) and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars; Coach Eric Taylor and his players in Friday Night Lights; Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san; great-uncles Hub and Garth and their nephew Walter in Secondhand Lions…

In traditional real-life societies all across the globe, a boy’s uncles and relatives were generally the ones who taught him the mysteries of manhood during his rite of passage.


According to Rohr, the bond between a biological father and his kid is just too complicated for the former to initiate contact with the latter. When a father guides his kid through his initiatic experience, he puts his own identity and sense of self on the line. This might lead to a father being too kind with his kid or being too severe in order to guarantee that he passes the exam. A parent has too much involved in an initiation to lead it objectively.

We must also keep in mind that separation is a component of the initiation process into masculinity. A little youngster is attempting to become less reliant and more self-sufficient. A father’s feeling of boyhood self is likely to be bound up with his kid’s sense of self; he views his son through the lens of having seen him grow up from a newborn. To become a man, a boy must detach himself from that image and dynamic, which necessitates a separation from his father. However, if Dad is the one guiding the rite of passage, the separating process may be slowed. 

Furthermore, since a son is so acquainted with his father, he may be less inclined to listen to him and more at ease defying his advice and challenges. Young people are more likely to heed counsel from adults who are a little farther away than from those who are closest to them.

It’s best for the father to play a loving role during a rite of passage, while someone outside of the boy’s closest circle pushes him. The former supplies him with a feeling of comfort that allows him to accept the latter’s challenge to launch forth.

A third-party initiator, at its most basic level, enables for an initiation to take place without the father-son conflict getting in the way.

I can see this trend in my own life if I go back far enough. My father was always there for me and led by example, but other adult males assisted me in maturing into a man. Throughout my growth, football coaches, teachers, and religious leaders all played a part in different rites of passage.

While a father may not be the only guide for his son’s entrance into manhood, this does not rule out the possibility of his playing a part in the process. It is the responsibility of a father to ensure that his kid has several chances to be mentored and introduced by other males. Every guy needs three families to grow up successfully, therefore a parent should concentrate on developing a community of males around himself that can serve as a pool of future initiators. Surround yourself with the kind of guys you’d want guiding and teaching your kid. It’s great if you want to create a planned ceremony for your son’s journey into manhood, but be sure to include your male friends and family as well. You and your kid will both gain more from the experience. 




The “rite of passage for son” is a ritual that takes place when a father decides to initiate his son into manhood. The ritual can be anything from hunting, fishing, or even playing football with the father.

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