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10 Ways to Celebrate Milestones in Your Child's Life

10 Ways to Celebrate Milestones in Your Child's Life

We believe it’s important to celebrate the milestones in your child’s life. Here are some rite of passage ideas we share in 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex book that you can use in the pre-puberty years up through young adulthood.

Marking Manhood

Man of Honor: Give your son two gifts: a sword to hang on the wall and a new Bible to remind your young man to turn to the Sword of the Spirit, the Bible, for strength as he serves the King of Kings. You might even include a “knighting” ceremony! This can be done at any age—from twelve up through twenty-one. You choose the moment of manhood you want to mark (the book Raising a Modern Day Knight has more ideas along these lines).

Draft Card Dinner: Use registering for the draft as a way to mark manhood. If he is old enough to die for his country, he is definitely a man. Celebrate him and give gifts to help him be even more responsible: a briefcase, a business card holder, his own checking account, etc.

Walk into Manhood: Mentors, grandparents, uncles, older male friends and role models (coaches, school teachers, youth group leaders) are invited to a special celebration in honor of the eighteen (or twenty-one) year old . Before the event, the honoree is taken to a designated spot. It can be a forest trail, a lakeside, a beach, or even a track. The male members of the family have been given designated spots to stand along the trail. The father and son walk the first mile (or less) together, and Dad imparts any last words of advice. He shares what he believes is the meaning of manhood with his son. Each man, in turn, walks and talks, imparting words of wisdom, affirmation, and a gift needed in adult life. At the trail end, all the men gather and pray over this young man as he enters adulthood.

Shaving Rituals: Give a tween or early teen all the goods for shaving when his voice begins to change. A nice addition to the gift would be to accompany the present with a meal out with the men of the family: older brothers, dad, uncles, grandpa, etc. Each person can share a story starting with, “I knew I was a man when…”

Welcoming Womanhood 

Here are a few ways to celebrate your daughter and her step across some of the thresholds into womanhood:

Modern-Day Princess: In this rite of passage, a mom or a mentor walks a tween or teen girl through seven weeks of preparation in areas such as friendships, relationships with parents and mentors, makeup and manners, what God says about boys and men, how to grow with God, how to serve others, and the traits of a godly woman. The program culminates with the night of celebration where the father (or a father figure) reads a blessing that he has written and personalized for the young woman. He then places a crown on her head, declaring her a modern-day princess, a daughter of the King of kings (

The Beginning: Beginning menses can be a traumatic experience. But a mother can turn trauma into triumph with a little tender loving care. Take her to get her first grown-up silky nightgown or a precious set of pearls. If she is older when she begins, have her makeup done at the department store makeup counter. Plan a special dinner at the fanciest café in town. Present her with a delicate charm bracelet that you can add to with every future big moment in her teen life. Somehow, some way, celebrate her beginning moment as a true woman. (For more ideas: Julie Hiramine, president of Generations of Virtue, wrote the Beautifully Made series to walk a girl through puberty.)

Terrific Twelve. You might be able to beat your daughter to the starting line of womanhood by making her twelfth birthday a celebration packed with firsts. Buy her that first bra, a razor to shave her legs, her first set of high heels, or her first make up set. You might take her to get her ears pierced. You choose whatever next step you feel is age-appropriate for your family.

Once a Girl, Now a Woman: One family we know took their daughter on a weekend trip when she hit the “double digits” (age eleven). They flew to New York City and took her to the American Girl museum to get a doll made that looks just like her, making a memory of her appearance as a little girl. Then the next day, they went to shop for a grown-up outfit and went to a nice restaurant for dinner…and the next segment of “the talk” escorting her into womanhood.

Sweet 16: Try one of these ideas to mark this big moment:

  • On the Town: Host a formal dinner party where her closest friends (guys and gals) dress to the nines and eat the fanciest gourmet food you can afford.
  • High Tea: Take your daughter and a few of her closest friends (and maybe their moms or all the female relatives) to high tea. Bring along photos of her growing up years—and yours. Hand down a piece of jewelry that has been in the family for several generations.

Tweens, teens and young adults that have memories with the significant adults in their lives are less likely to rebel and more likely to make wiser choices. Each memory ties your son or daughter’s heart to your values. 

Pam and Bill Farrel are the authors of 40 books including several on parenting including 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex; 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make; Raising a Modern Day Princess (co-author Doreen Hanna); Got Teens? and 10 Best Decisions a Graduate Can Make all available at  

Publication date: September 9, 2014