Sunday, May 6, 2012

Modern adolescence in modern America

At what age does adolescence end? How does age 24 grab you?

That's the story MedpageToday picked up in reviewing an Australian researcher's recent article in a medical journal:
Today, the phase of adolescence begins at age 10 and ends at age 24, expanded at both ends by an earlier onset of puberty and a delay of mature social roles, respectively.
Is delay of mature of social roles a medical condition? Or are we simply creating societal roadblocks that stymie our kids in their quest to grow up?

Think about Occupy. You've likely seen some of its people complain they have worthless college degrees and mountains of student debt, and many of them have never held a job. I guess you could make the case they're acting like a bunch of immature adolescents running wild in the streets.

I admit, by adult standards, something's not quite right with a bunch of our 20-somethings. But let's not hang a medical diagnosis on, normalize it and coddle it. Let's start to roll back some of the pampering kids are getting well beyond an age where previous generations have moved on to adulthood.

And don't just blame progressives or political liberals for taking us down this road. There's a push in Congress to impose a national roadblock to kids getting full drivers licenses at age 16. One of the key sponsors of the bill is proclaimed conservative Tea Party favorite Congressman Allen West of Florida.

Yeah. I know. West sees it as a way to reduce novice driver accidents. But maybe what we need is to reemphasize that with adult comes comes adult personal responsibility, and quit trying to engineer ways around it. The drivers license is just one example.

On the broader issue, if we're not willing to roll back the coddling so those in their late teens and early 20s begin standing on their own, and we accept the notion that adolescence runs into the 20s, then let's move in another direction. And take the legal voting age back to at least age 21.

I don't want a big block of older adolescents deciding election outcomes anymore than I'd let an adolescent eleven year old have full sway over how I run a household and its budget.

No comments:

Post a Comment