Mark Twain once quipped: “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow as well.” This should be the new motto of today’s adolescent. While adulthood has many benefits to be desired, its responsibilities make it something to be put off until many days after tomorrow. The good news for teens today is that the mental health experts (at least the ones in the UK) will now officially enable young people to delay adulthood at least until the age of 25. It’s time to party in the streets for years on end, British teenagers!
Here’s the official headline from the Daily Mail (UK): “An adult at 18? Not any more: Adolescence now ends at 25 to prevent young people from getting an inferiority complex”. Anyone over 40 with some amount of common sense has observed more and more teenagers being far from responsible adults by the age of 18. Just go to your local college campus and watch the future leaders of America for a while. Unfortunately, over the last few decades, a growing amount of college students are ending up on their parents’ couches, avoiding as much adult responsibility as possible. But is this a new development in human behavior that we are to condone? Apparently so. according to the experts.
The movement to officially delay the start of adulthood has been going on for quite some time in America and Britain. Much of the conversation has surrounded new research that the brain actually continues to develop well into a person’s twenties. That has led some experts to advocate for extended adolescence. So what’s laughable is not that child psychologists announced that adulthood now starts at 25, but WHY it must be this way–to prevent young people from getting inferiority complexes! Obviously teenagers have a need to be saved from the horrors of adulthood. Here’s more from the Daily Mail article:
It is hoped that the initiative will stop children being “rushed” through their childhood and feeling pressured to achieve key milestones quickly…Some adolescents may want to stay longer with their families because they need more support during these formative years and that it is important for parents to realize that all young people do not develop at the same pace.
Now I get the fact that not all adolescents develop the same way at the same pace. But what are these “key milestones” that they are felling pressured to achieve? Graduation from high school and college? Getting their first job? Marriage? Voting? And who is doing the pressuring? Parents? Society? It’s all just silly. Let’s remember that for centuries, there were only two recognized stages of human development: Childhood and adulthood. Long story short, adolescence is a hastily invented category that has a long history of being stretched an manipulated just to enable people to avoid responsibility. Of course there are teens that want to put off key milestones like a career, marriage, and family. They’re hard! They require work, commitment, and sacrifice!
So what if we also delayed other key components of adulthood for today’s teenagers. Let’s make driver’s licenses only available at 25. And cell phones. And, of course, we need to move the drinking age to 25 as well. I don’t think our mental health experts will be recommending these changes to societal norms any time soon. The reality is that our young people are just sinners like the rest of us. They want to enjoy the privileges of adulthood without the commensurate responsibilities of adulthood. Adolescents aren’t really longing for more years as children–they simply want to the spoils of adulthood much more quickly than they can handle them. Case in point for another post: Cell phones and social media.
If child psychologists were truly observant about teenagers suffering from “inferiority complexes” they would understand that the problem occurs when they aren’t challenged and “pressured” to grow up and become adults. Allowing our children to languish in extended adolescence only enables and encourages them to become fools (in the Book of Proverbs sense of the term). With the requisite love, compassion, and patience, adults are responsible to press teenagers to grow up, mature, and become full-fledged adults. And, as Christians, we should be leading in this area and fighting against the cultural trend–preparing our young people to become responsible, Jesus-loving, people loving, young adults. Our children need to be challenged to avoid the pitfall of extended adolescence and embrace the calling of adulthood!