Jun 222007

Free Talk Live spent a good portion of the show today discussing an interview with Robert Epstein, editor-in-chief of Psychology Today. The gist of the article was that American society essentially keeps kids down by assuming they’re incapable of anything worthwhile and reinforcing that belief in the teens themselves.

In every mammalian species, immediately upon reaching puberty, animals function as adults, often having offspring. We call our offspring “children” well past puberty. The trend started a hundred years ago and now extends childhood well into the 20s. The age at which Americans reach adulthood is increasing—30 is the new 20—and most Americans now believe a person isn’t an adult until age 26.

In observing my younger associates as they went through their late teens and early twenties, I came to believe the same thing some years ago. I graduated from high school at 17 and basically left my parents house at the same time. (Actually, due to boarding school, I hadn’t lived at home since 7th grade.) Being prone to male friendships over female friendships I had always attributed this to the lack of a rite of passage for young males.

In watching Z move into her tween years the idea has struck home even more. X and I constantly struggle over how much freedom and responsibility to give Z. If only I could get X to listen to this broadcast, or even read the article, I think those fights would be gone. Alas, that is but a dream.

instead, I’ve started to push Z more and more into ‘fending for herself’. I regularly remind her that she only has 7 short years of ‘guaranteed care’ coming from me. At 18 she’s on her own, both figuratively and literally. Not that I won’t be there to help, of course, should she be worthy of that help. At that point she gets judged for the person she has become. Of course, this also give me a deadline. The clock is ticking on my time to shape her into the person that I hope she becomes.

I’m constantly told that my socio-political views would be the downfall of civilization should they come to fruition. If you’ve thought that yourself after reading some of my posts I highly recommend you check out Dr. Epstein’s book: The Case Against Adolescence.

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