Adolescence cannot last from 11 years old to 29 years old. Our society will crumble economically & socially under the pressure.
I think most people understand that intuitively. They reflect on their teenage years and their early twenties as a time of coming of age.
But times have changed. Most sociologists believe adolescence stretches from the onset of puberty (11-12 years old) until the late 20s. In other words, the adolescence you and I knew is now 8-10 years LONGER than when we went through it just 20 years ago.
When I think of people in their 20s I think of two distinct subsets.
- Those who move out and declare independence.
- Those who don’t.
1. Declaration of Independence
For some, moving out and declaring personal independence happens after high school when they join the military. Even though I’ve heard NCOs refer to their platoons as “their kids” certainly they are not dependent on their parents any more. They are earning their own way in the world, they provide their own housing, and they are trained in complex adults tasks. A 20 year old Army Specialist repairing a Blackhawk helicopter on a base in Germany is an adult role.
For others, they go to college and pay their own way and handle all of the responsibilities of being a college student on their own. They reject the childish party life and are serious about their education from day 1. The young woman who watched our kids this summer was this way. She worked multiple jobs all summer to bridge the gap between student loans, grants, and her need. And she takes her studies seriously because she needs this degree to take her and her family a step closer to the American dream.
Still others, high school ends with a thud and they enter young adulthood when their parents either kick them out or they move out. They discover adult responsibilities when they realize that they have to work or starve. Or they have to work or become homeless.
2. Declaration of Co-Dependency
I’m no psychologist. But over the past 10 years I’ve encountered dozens of parents whom exhibit co-dependent tendencies on their adult-aged children. They track their progress at school. They call them daily. They financially support so their college students don’t work. They either directly or indirectly tell their adult-aged children that they can always live at home, they will never have to support themselves. So they don’t. They lightly attend college and learn almost nothing. They party like Paris Hilton. They don’t even do their own laundry.
Essentially, they are pets. They know it. And love it. They know their parents are co-dependent on them and they take full advantage.
Most of these co-dependent parents have one thing in common: Disposable income. Their adult-aged children hang around with nearly no responsibility… because their parents can afford for them to do so.
- What role does responsibility play in extended adolescence?
- If you serve in ministry, how do you help parents who exhibit co-dependent tendencies?
- Do you agree with my premise that extended adolescence is tied to household economics?