by DanWolgemuth on September 15, 2011

When our three kids were young I established a Christmas tradition that involved a special gift to each of them. I called it “Daddy Gifts,” and I distributed them immediately after all of the other gifts had been unwrapped. These were gifts I had purchased on my own.

Of particular note was the Daddy Gift that I gave to our daughter, Alli, when she was nine years old. I had purchased a $15 gift certificate to the Clare’s Boutique in our local mall in Kansas City. By itself this wasn’t that unusual or noteworthy, but in addition to the dollars committed I also gave Alli something else, something far more significant. In addition to the $15, I gave Alli permission.

During the previous two years Alli had pleaded with me about getting her ears pierced. Several of her friends had entered this space without devastating consequences and, of course, her mother had her ears pierced. For whatever reason the decision making in this area seemed to fall to me; and for two years I had been dismissive, then decisive, then direct. No.

But on Christmas 1995 that changed.

In that moment I gave Alli a Daddy Gift that she and I will never forget. In that moment I gave Alli permission… to feel pain, to experience the impact of her own decision, to receive what she really wanted. In that single $15 gift certificate I gave Alli her first significant rite of passage.

Permission is a powerful gift. It needs to be dispensed with wisdom and with boundaries. It is extended with appropriate prayer and corresponding instruction. It should never be granted in a dismissive way. Permission should be extended on the foundation of confidence and trust. It is an important milestone in the life of a father and a child… in fact, it’s a holy moment.

“And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” ~ Luke 9:1-2 (ESV)

Even Jesus gave permission. To heal. To proclaim. To extend the power and plan of Christ on earth. He gave His closest friends permission to fail, to doubt, to disappoint, to question… to be wildly more impactful than they would have ever dreamed.

Permission is a gift; the gateway to a rite of passage. Grant it thoughtfully. Extend it with the understanding that pain and disappointment are often companions; but knowing that stewardship demands it and growth requires it.

Permission invites; it opens; it demands… and it inspires new levels of success and failure.

Use it with caution; but use it…

P.S. – To find out more about parenting in the arena of the “Rite of Passage,” I would encourage you to connect to This week’s Friday Fragment is a part of the Rite of Passage Blog Tour. You can follow the fourteen bloggers that will participate in the tour… additionally, you can investigate the new book by Jim McBride on the subject:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay Payleitner September 16, 2011 at 10:56 PM

An excellent take. I’m thinking that too many parents spend all their time give warnings. And forget to give permission. Rites of Passage need to be forward thinking, not ominous burdens. Plus, your $15 trip to Claire’s Boutique gave you a chance to enter her world. And that’s always a bonus.
Keep at it,


DanWolgemuth September 19, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Thanks, Jay, for your additional thoughts. Couldn’t agree more.

God’s best to you,


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