“Rite of Passage Parenting: Four Essential Experiences to Equip Your Kids For Life”: Heading Up to the Nine-Year Change and Beyond!

HI am currently reading this book; it is a Christian book that comes from a Biblical perspective, but I feel even if you are NOT Christian you would  find it  fascinating! 

The premise of this book so resonates with me.  Walker Moore, the author, takes a close look at the difficulties our children are having today with the transition between childhood and adulthood and this odd notion of adolescence.  Adolescence was a term created in the early 1940s that did not exist before then.    He talks about how the transition of society from an agrarian focus to an industrial one has had dire implications for our children

He writes, “In the post-World War II era, as our culture completed its move from the farm to the suburbs,it managed to take away even more of our children’s responsibilities. The new suburbanites enjoyed the ease and comfort of their modern lifestyle.  Many of them were thankful that their kids didn’t have to work as hard as they had during their own grown-up years.  What the parents failed to realize was that this hard work had actually helped them in their progress toward capable, responsible adulthood.  The fifteen-year-old, once thought of as a man with adult skills who could drive and run a farm, was now stuck in high school and told he was “just a kid”.

Moore talks about the four essential experiences every child should have in order to transfer to being a successful, responsible adult:

1.  A Rite of Passage – Jewish custom demonstrates this rather clearly in the tradition of Bar Mitzvah, Hispanic culture demonstrates this clearly in the fifteen-year-old girl’s quinceanera.   Moore notes that we as a society have “begun to increase the age of expected adult responsibility while the age of physical maturity continues to drop.” (By this, he means the physiological signs of puberty are occurring earlier than they have in the past but we entrust our teenagers with less and less true responsibility and less and less let them experience the consequences of their own decisions). 

How will your family develop a rite of passage for your thirteen to fifteen-year old child?  Some families have developed their own rite of passage, some families have their thirteen to fifteen year old participate in a community service project.   Moore talks about for Christian families to consider sending  their thirteen to fifteen year old on a mission trip to another country.   Think about the importance of rites of passages  for your family and share your ideas in the comment section!

2. Significant Tasks – Moore writes on page 75, “Parents, let me ask you a question: What does your child do that demonstrates her worth and add value to your family?  If she were away today and unable to perform this assignment, how much would your family suffer?  If you struggle to come up with an answer, your child is probably missing significant tasks.”

Children in agricultural societies are important to the family.  If they don’t go out and gather firewood, then the family cannot cook their food.  In our modern, suburban civilization, children are seen as a financial liability and a luxury to have and raise by many people. 

This really resonates with me as I have been thinking more and more about the significant tasks my children should be doing each and every day.  Not all of us live on farms, so what is truly significant in your house and home?   What tasks are significant that just you couldn’t go without?  Moore talks about having his nine-year-old learn how to pay the electric bill with the checkbook and how this was significant because if the bill was not paid, the electricity would be turned off!

To me, cooking is a skill that could be significant for girls and for boys.  Unless you are a raw foodist, unless one cooks, one does not eat.    I believe Don and Jeanne Elium addresses cooking for boys and its importance in their book, “Raising A Son.”  Well-worth checking into!

Taking care of the grounds also resonates with me.  Pet care as well.  These are areas where the child starts by imitating you when they are young and slowly moves into responsibility as they mature past 7.

Laundry is another area.  Walker Moore says he feels an eight-year-old (Waldorf folks might be this age a bit  higher, like after the nine-year change)   should be capable of sorting, washing, folding and putting away their own laundry.  You may be to be present to keep it going along, but as homeschoolers I feel we have a unique opportunity to devote some extra time to these important life tasks.  I also like laundry because of its built-in natural consequences – if you don’t do your laundry, you have no clothes to wear!

3. Logical Consequences– He talks about how parents in our society today too often jump in  to “save” their children from the natural consequences of their own-decision making.

There are many parents who feel the foundation of childhood is laid in the Early Years and then you have to trust your child and let go.  I agree with this in a certain respect, although I do think the seven and eight and nine year olds still need guidance and protection.  In many Waldorf circles, the world starts opening up a bit more after the nine-year change, in the fourth grade when most children are 10.

I would love to hear from all of you – do you let your under 10 children go to sleepovers at friends’ houses, what things do they get to do when they are 7 or 8 that is different than before, or do you have them wait to do things until they hit 9?  Jump in on the comment section!

4.  Grace Deposits – Walker Moore’s way of talking about filling up your child’s love tank, their emotional bank account.  In Waldorf we don’t use so many words to do this with children under 7 , but we use our warmth, our joy, our happiness, the tone in which we speak to our children, the way we run as calm and steady a household as possible to show that our children are loved.

As your children grow and their temperament becomes more pronounced, we have the opportunity to figure out what really makes our children tick, even more than in the first seven years where we think we know as attached parents but honestly we don’t!  There is a big shift that comes at 7 and 8 as children move into themselves more…

The language we use with our children is SO IMPORTANT.  Frame things positively!  If you keep framing things about your child negatively, especially in front of the child, that is what the child is going to think of themselves.  Employ other adults outside of your family – friends, other trusted adults – to help you find the wonderful things about your child and build your child up as your child grows!   Steiner talked about the importance of building a supportive, trusted and wonderful community for the child of ages 7-14. Your child is a wonderful, spiritual being who joined your family and needs you to uplift them, guide them, help them!

This was an interesting book that stimulated much thought in me today,


17 thoughts on ““Rite of Passage Parenting: Four Essential Experiences to Equip Your Kids For Life”: Heading Up to the Nine-Year Change and Beyond!

  1. This is all food for thought Carrie. I don’t think we want to go back to the days prior to 1940 but we would probably serve our children well by giving them more responsibility in many areas of their lives. Nurturing dependence doesn’t prepare them well for the adult world. I couldn’t agree with you more that the language we use is so important. The kind of results we get, completely depends on how approach our kids. “Go peel the potatoes” will not be received as well as “I need help peeling potatoes and putting away the dishes. What would you like to do?” Showing appreciation for their contribution is a motivator as well.

  2. I am curious as to how you came by this book. I struggle to find Christian texts that aren’t geared towards a gentle style of parenting.
    I have an 8 year-old daughter who we are struggling with on responsibilities, though a part of it, I feel, is her temperament.
    She likes to do things that she feels makes her needed, that she is the one uniquely “made” for that task. Around the house, she seems to have found that caring for our chickens is something she enjoys doing. She is also a serious organizer, so things that relate in any way to order work for her.

    I would like to check into this book……Q: I would love some pointers towards things about discipline (not punishment) surrounding the 9-year change. Know of any?

    • Have you read the article on Rahima Baldwin Dancy’s website regarding the nine-year-old change? There are also several classic waldorf texts out there about the nine-year-old change – have you seen any of those? Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore has a number of them listed….
      If those are things you have investigated, please do email me back. I know Donna Simmons has just come out with a audio download regarding discipline for children 9 and over, it should be available in her Christopherus bookstore – have you heard that yet?
      PS. I literally just found that book by chance on the bookshelf at my local Christian bookstore. I agree with you there are not many out there that coincide with gentle parenting and/or waldorf parenting. Let’s share titles as we find them!

  3. As the parent of a 14 and soon-to-be (Friday) 13 year old I have found that responsibility for various ‘household tasks’ is a natural part of home education.

    I’m shuddering at the thought of having to put away dry washing-up, taking the rubbish out and having to delve through my teen’s dirty laundry 😉 Well, ok, I do do all 3 things occasionally, but that is very occasionally.

    My boys are also good cooks. They are used to seeing me prepare meals and took an early interest. Now I’m quite happy to leave them at the helm and only dip in if they ask for some support.

    My 12 year old has been helping move wardrobes and drawers and if I ask will happily get on with other household tasks.

    He’s also very good at building block cities and train tracks when needed (for his younger siblings).

    I missed him terribly in the day whilst he was at school for a period, he’s told me he much prefers to be at home 🙂 I miss my 14 year old (he’s at boarding school).

    For me (and I guess for them) it all seems very natural. Supporting them to learn about supporting themselves is surely one of the most important lessons of all?

    When they have friends visiting they cook together (erm, did have one pan fire incident once…) In my experience, give teen boys the chance and likely they’ll surprise you in their enthusiasm for cooking, for crafts, etc. (all the things that might otherwise been seen as ‘less than manly’ by mainstream society).

    I’ve yet to get them to attempt ironing though…

  4. Oh I love this post. It made me smile as I think of the times my mother comes to visit and is constantly telling me “they are just children, don’t be mean.” This because my kids 5 and 6 help me sort the laundry, together they toss it into the washer and put in the detergent. I always point out, they love helping me. She smiles and argues, but they are so little.

    Then I hear through the grapevine, how she gushes about how independent and helpful my kids are. She goes on to tell people how wise beyond their years they are.

    I know as they get older these things will become their responsibilities. I know someday they will thank me for it. (Well, I’m not holding my breath, but in their hearts they’ll be grateful:)

  5. Thanks for the kind words! There is a workbook that you can get at Thomas Nelson that will guide parents in the details of implementing these principles in their lives. Again, thanks for an accurate review.
    Walker Moore
    Rite of Passage Parenting

  6. Designing a rites of passage program in 1999 for our son and the sons and daughters of our friends took us on a wonderful journey that included attending a bar and bat mitzvah and several programs for African-American children. In 2000, we wrote a book about our experience entitled “Orita: Rites of Passage for Youth of African Descent in America (was on Amazon.com’s bestseller list). Today in 2009, we’re amazed at how that program has emerged as one of the most significant experiences of our lives. Our friendships (of the parents) have survived the test of time. And the 9 boys (now men) have remained in close touch with one another. The program has crossed all religous, racial, and cultural boundaries because of its simple and adaptable implementation. Thank you for your work in this area of family relationships and for providing an opportunity for expression via this blog.

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  8. Hi,

    Thanks for logging your read of this book. I came across it in a search for rite of passage ideas for my son(s). My oldest(11) will be 12 in May and sometime in his 12th year I’m planning to have a weekend rite of passage with him and other men friends of mine and our family that will welcome and challenge him in his entrance to early manhood.

    I think I’m going to have to pick up this book you read as over the past 2 years we have become interested in moving out of the suburbs and into farming to become more self-sufficient and provide property for our kids to build on in the future debt free. We just sold our house and are renting until we have the money save to purchace land and build a house for multigenerations. Our lives have really been transformed over the past 3 years or so since we started home educating our kids, we’re starting to see what a family really is and that children really can be a blessing!

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  13. Hi, my partner and I would like to conduct a small rite of passage ceramony for our beautiful seven year old daughter. I am seeking practical ideas. Suggestions greatly appriciated.

    • HI Nicole,
      If you search seven year old and birthdays on this blog, I think some things will come up from past posts…One book some families work with is “The Seven Year Old Wonder Book” by Isabelle Wyatt and work with the Rhyme Elves themselves at bedtime. A birthday party that recounts the child’s life up to this point is also an element many families incorporate. In our family, we have a special place we take our children when they turn seven years old (Rock City, TN). Maybe there is a place that is special in your area that would be wonderful to visit for the seven year old birthday.
      Many blessings,

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