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Dr. Helen

Is Twenty-Five the New Fifteen?

April 26th, 2013 - 11:46 am

That’s the question asked in the 1st chapter of a book I am reading called Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old. From the description:

Do you sometimes wonder how your teen is ever going to survive on his or her own as an adult? Does your high school junior seem oblivious to the challenges that lie ahead? Does your academically successful nineteen-year-old still expect you to “just take care of” even the most basic life tasks?

Welcome to the stunted world of the Endless Adolescence. Recent studies show that today’s teenagers are more anxious and stressed and less independent and motivated to grow up than ever before. Twenty-five is rapidly becoming the new fifteen for a generation suffering from a debilitating “failure to launch.” Now two preeminent clinical psychologists tell us why and chart a groundbreaking escape route for teens and parents.

Drawing on their extensive research and practice, Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen show that most teen problems are not hardwired into teens’ brains and hormones but grow instead out of a “Nurture Paradox” in which our efforts to support our teens by shielding them from the growth-spurring rigors and rewards of the adult world have backfired badly. With compelling examples and practical and profound suggestions, the authors outline a novel approach for producing dramatic leaps forward in teen maturity, including:

• Turn Consumers into Contributors Help teens experience adult maturity–its bumps and its joys–through the right kind of employment or volunteer activity.
• Feed Them with Feedback Let teens see and hear how the larger world perceives them. Shielding them from criticism–constructive or otherwise–will only leave them unequipped to deal with it when they get to the “real world.”
• Provide Adult Connections Even though they’ll deny it, teens desperately need to interact with adults (including parents) on a more mature level–and such interaction will help them blossom!
• Stretch the Teen Envelope Do fewer things for teens that they can do for themselves, and give them tasks just beyond their current level of competence and comfort.

The authors point out that even young people who appear to be succeeding by conventional standards wake up in their mid-twenties clueless about how to find a job, manage money, cook, or live on their own. They are educated but unable to care for themselves. “Twenty-five is now becoming the new fifteen.”

According to the authors, teens are living in a “bubble” that is undermining their development. They have their room at home, school, the shopping mall etc. but it

cuts them off from meaningful roles in the adult world, cuts them off from close day-to-day contact with adults, and it hyperexposes them to peer relationships, which become their primary socializing influences.

The last chapter of the book points out that the staples of the Adulthood Diet are Challenge and Feedback. Teens don’t get much of it in their lives. We have done away with competition (too masculine, I suppose) and real-world feedback (kids need high self-esteem!) and therefore they never learn to master the larger world.

The book instructs parents and adults in how to teach kids to grow up and be an adult in today’s modern world. That’s no small feat. But better late than never because twenty-five should never be the new fifteen.

*****

Cross-posted at PJ Lifestyle 

More on suspended development:

Walter Hudson: American Immaturity: How We Grow Up After We Grow Old

John Hawkins: 5 Differences Between Boys and Real Men

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Top Rated Comments   
I am a 49 year old restaurant manager. Nearly all of my employees are between 18 and 25. It is a constant struggle to keep staffed up with entry level workers. I hire about 50 new employees every year. Some of my observations: About half the young women are single mothers. They will miss work at least once a week because their child is sick, etc. About 20% of the men are court ordered to pay child support. When I hire them, the Court sends me orders to garnish their wages. Many of them are tens of thousands of dollars in debt because they've never made a payment. Most of them quit after receiving their first (heavily garnished) check.
They mostly live with Mom and/or Dad or the parents pay their housing expenses for them. They spend their paychecks on alcohol, drugs, and video games. A quarter of the staff will miss work the day after payday. Some will call out; most won't bother. Some have their mother's call on their behalf. I refuse to accept calls from my adult employees parents. I refuse to give job applications to parents, either. I tell the parent that I'm not interested in hiring someone who won't be bothered with picking up their own application. I've had a 24 year old man bring his father with him to an interview. I have been threatened with legal action by parents for terminating their sons and daughters. One of my employees has his mother get out of bed every night at midnight and drive 20 miles to pick him up at work and take him to his house 6 blocks from work. He's in perfect physical condition and he's a member of the local college's ski team.
As for their quality of work; let's say it's lacking. Even the most basic of tasks (washing dishes for instance) requires weeks of training. They mostly have very high self-esteem and unrealistic expectations. They will demand raises and promotions after only a few days, or even hours on the job. They demand raises just because they want one and they will usually become angry or petulant when I explain how raises and promotions are earned, not given away to whomever asks for it. None of them are married; none are working toward a degree, though many are enrolled in college at least part-time, as long as someone else is footing the bill. Many are functionally illiterate. None seem to have any plans or goals beyond getting drunk tonight and looking for a "hook up". A free republic requires an educated and thoughtful electorate. The Great American Experiment is doomed.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Back in the dark ages of the 70's my parents normally had 2 cars. The newer one was exclusively for their use and the second, older model was what my mom drove around town doing the errands, shopping, etc., while dad was at work. The secondary car was also what my older brother and I were allowed to drive, with permission. In my late teens I balked at this because because my older brother seemed to have exclusive use of the car and I was receiving sloppy seconds. I confronted my father with this one day saying, "Dad, I need a car!" His response was something like "Yes, you need a car. Why don't you go out and get a job so you can BUY one." So I did. I saved up enough money to buy a Buick Electra from our neighbor which was a gas hog. But, my dad did all the figures and we decided even with the "high" gas prices over a dollar a gallon it was a pretty good deal.

See, he did the particulars on cost averaging while teaching me a lesson on fiscal responsibility. Best lesson I ever had.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Once again, I notice people seem to forget the past so easily.

We've seen this pattern before, in the form of the Gen X slackers during the early 90's. The legacy media was rife with articles bemoaning those lazy slackers. Later, when the economy recovered and the internet started, those lazy slackers then became software and dot-com entrepreneurs. This trend was so pronounced that someone at "Atlantic" magazine felt compelled to write an article complaining about the opposite problem, the famous "Organization Kid" article in 1999. It seems someone was upset that those kids were working too hard, were too future time oriented, and too focused on building careers. Now, the recession has returned and the kids today have become slackers once more.

You see, when there is a recession and jobs and careers scarce, kids make the appropriate choice to become slackers. When the economy is good and there is lots of opportunity, American people work plenty hard to pursue it. Ergo the tech bubble during the late 90's.

So, all that is required to get those kids to stop being slackers and to grow up is simply to provide them with lots of opportunity to get ahead in life. Its magic how that works, isn't it!

What some of you can't seem to wrap your heads around is the notion that being a slacker (living a minimalist lifestyle) IS a perfectly rational choice in a no-growth, zero-sum economy. You want people to grow up and work hard? Create a growth-oriented economy that provides lots of opportunity for people to do so. This really is just that simple.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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The Allens must be morons themselves. Any fool knows a bird that doesn't leave the nest will never learn how to fly.

If a parent has a child deficient in this regard, their job as a parent is to go the tough love route and encourage them to challenge themselves. If they resist, all the sooner to boot 'em out of the house.

This happened to my brother. A no-account his entire life; failed burglar, refused to work and never did. Stints in prison.

This was actively enabled by my mother, who took him in no matter how many times he robbed her or simply refused to work. Over the years I could see it all happening and where it was headed and I warned her - she didn't want to hear it. He robbed me every chance he could get, including stealing my identity so bounty hunters were looking for me.

Naturally when my mother moved to another city, he followed and has lived within blocks of her in a bewildering variety of apts. Today he is a fraud on SSI addicted to pain killers. He is as averse to interests of any kind as a vampire is to sunlight and has always been that way. He has lived the most constricted, provincial and boring life of anyone I have ever met. He literally does nothing every day and has not a single skill.

At a crucial time, had my mother acted properly, I believe he would've turned out far different. She offered concrete credibility to his character flaws and weaknesses his whole life so that reality never had a chance to put him in the school of hard knocks. She had a home for him to live in and, with no father around, is the only person who could have put him out of the nest both physically and intellectually.

Society, with PC "there, there," pats on the head and welfare, is doing the same thing. It's quite literally killing the black community in the U.S., stunting what would otherwise be the normal growth and accomplishments of a culture.

Value systems are everything, but they don't come from nowhere. They are formed in a healthy crucible of challenge and growth.

Why is anyone surprised we are seeing massive failure by people who are so stupid when it comes to their own survival or making simple comparisons that peasants from the Third World are beating us down in our own backyard in a massive con game.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
The single men I know in their 30s, 40s, and early 50s are extremely self-centered, immature, and no where near the level that the previous generations were. I sometimes have to remind myself, "Yes, he's 43, but I have to think of him as 23, then his actions make sense."
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Are you so sure that single men of previous generations were more mature and less self centered? I think not...
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Which kids are we talking about? I have no doubt that there are young people who fit into the category discussed in Dr. Helen's post and the book, and there are lots of them. These tend to be the young people with the so-called "helicopter parents" who seem to hover over their children well into adulthood. It also doesn't help when social policy encourages this infantilizing by allowing 26-year olds to be on their parents' health insurance (Obamacare), or up to 28 under SCHIP. That is a disgrace.

But there are other groups of yung Americans who do not fit this mold at all. For one, those who go into military service. For another, and a very specific example, those kids in N. Dakota who head for oil field jobs right out of high school. I imagine these last two groups will turn out alright, won't they? The Dakota kids, for one, are already earning at or above the national median for individual income.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, there are quite a few kids of the newly wealthy natural gas and oil families that are turning up dead from drug overdoses. More money doesn't always equal success or happiness.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most of the kids from the 'rural areas' of the Plains States will do just fine. Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of the nation -- as are their children who don't abandoned their upbringing of work ethics and values.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Which values are you referring to, Zeke?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Read my comment to letthereberock on the topic "Dems want more anti-sequestration to FAA deal. I write of the generations of past in the Plains states. Some of those values and human qualities still linger in those rural areas today but to a lesser degree of course.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am a 49 year old restaurant manager. Nearly all of my employees are between 18 and 25. It is a constant struggle to keep staffed up with entry level workers. I hire about 50 new employees every year. Some of my observations: About half the young women are single mothers. They will miss work at least once a week because their child is sick, etc. About 20% of the men are court ordered to pay child support. When I hire them, the Court sends me orders to garnish their wages. Many of them are tens of thousands of dollars in debt because they've never made a payment. Most of them quit after receiving their first (heavily garnished) check.
They mostly live with Mom and/or Dad or the parents pay their housing expenses for them. They spend their paychecks on alcohol, drugs, and video games. A quarter of the staff will miss work the day after payday. Some will call out; most won't bother. Some have their mother's call on their behalf. I refuse to accept calls from my adult employees parents. I refuse to give job applications to parents, either. I tell the parent that I'm not interested in hiring someone who won't be bothered with picking up their own application. I've had a 24 year old man bring his father with him to an interview. I have been threatened with legal action by parents for terminating their sons and daughters. One of my employees has his mother get out of bed every night at midnight and drive 20 miles to pick him up at work and take him to his house 6 blocks from work. He's in perfect physical condition and he's a member of the local college's ski team.
As for their quality of work; let's say it's lacking. Even the most basic of tasks (washing dishes for instance) requires weeks of training. They mostly have very high self-esteem and unrealistic expectations. They will demand raises and promotions after only a few days, or even hours on the job. They demand raises just because they want one and they will usually become angry or petulant when I explain how raises and promotions are earned, not given away to whomever asks for it. None of them are married; none are working toward a degree, though many are enrolled in college at least part-time, as long as someone else is footing the bill. Many are functionally illiterate. None seem to have any plans or goals beyond getting drunk tonight and looking for a "hook up". A free republic requires an educated and thoughtful electorate. The Great American Experiment is doomed.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
"A free republic requires an educated and thoughtful electorate."

Years ago, I was part of a small group of investors in a few national specialty chain restaurants -- full service and buffets. The worst of the worst of our operations was a unit located in a medium sized small rural town hosting a major university in the PacWest. We experienced everything in that unit you spoke too but all were college kids. The year before we sold that unit we hired nothing but graduate students from Nigeria except for our unit and kitchen managers. In one year they (as a team) increased our PM by 7 points. When we sold, we gave each of them very lucrative bonuses to help them with their college expenses. I feel for you!
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
You nailed it. Doomed indeed.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
If we wait a few months, we'll get another book from psychologist experts to tell us everything in this advice is all wrong. Remember experts on chocolate and fat, and sundry others who know all there is to know how to live our lives.

As if nobody lived well, happily and successfully or brought up their children to be happy successful adults before the "experts" became the "people to turn to".
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've seen this before on numerous occasions, with incoming freshman at college.

This is the grading standard: an A paper is tightly focussed, effectively organized, fully devloped, and error free.

It's my name on the board. It's my classroom. These are my rules. Period.

Then when they get these kids get their papers back, with every mistake marked, and don't like their grade, they go running to the department chair, or the dean, or the president of the university, as if any of them are going to tell me not to enforce the grading standard. Call your mother and cry to her about it.

Every word processor has a grammar and spell checker, so there is absolutely no excuse for turning in a paper full of grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes.

When I was an undergraduate, unless you owned an electric typewriter, you had to go the library and plug a quarter into a typewriter to type your paper. And that quarter was only good for 30 minutes. The typewriter shook and vibrated the entire time.

There were no PCs. There were no lap tops. There were no grammar and spell checkers. If you made a mistake on one page, you had to type it all over again.

But the grading standard was the same. An A paper is error free. Excuse me, but we had to work for our grades.

But kids today, they turn in this flop and slop. And complain about their grade.

Hey, click on grammar/spell check, for crying out loud. I thought you were Generation Technology. You're definitely not Generation Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling.

It's ridicululous, these children. They spend their entire lives with PCs, but they can't figure out how to click on a grammar/spell checkerbutton?

I'm a realtor. I used to be a teacher and professor, but that's beside the point. Does aynone have any concept of what would happen to me if I misspelled a buyer's name,or a street name, or accidentally inverted the street number on the address?

That's an actionable offense, meaning I could lose my license. I could also be sued for treble damages, which is three times the sales value of the house.

It doesn't benefit me in any way to lie to anybody. It doesn't benefit me to overvalue a property.

It does benefit me to make sure that the contract is filled out precisely and correctly. And that requires grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

So, back when I was teaching, if some freshman turned in a paper full of mistakes, I gave him or her the grade they deserved. They can complain all they want about it, but it's not going to change the grade.

It's the same with our real estate company. Whenever we need to hire a new secretary, there's this simple spelling and math test. It's probably 8th grade level. What are the responsibilities of a secretary? She answers phone calls and refers potential buyers to realtors. She cannot give advice and opinions on real estate--only a licensed realtor can do that. She can't even give the list price on a property. All she can do is answer phones, refer inquiries to realtos, and fill out receipts.

But she has to be able to pass a simple spelling/math test to even be considered to do that. You would be shocked at how many college graduates couldn't pass that simple test. They have a college degree and they can't even pass a simple test to get a job answering phones at a small real estate company? Give me a break.

We deal with millions of dollars of property every year. We cannot afford to pay someone who does not know how to spell or perform simple math. It's that's obvious.

All the education system does is pat children on their heads and say, "Good boy, good girl." That works for self esteem. But when they get out into the real world and find out they don't have the skills necessary to succeed, that fault lies not only on their parents, but with the government.

And who is responsible for the government? We are. The extent to which the government, the public schools, the universities and all the rest is a failure, is the extent to which we are a failure.

Either we get back to business, or we are a failure. It comes down to that.

As someone wha has spent his life in education and then in business, I'm not counting on either one. We need to get serious.


51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
MeridianMan you can certainly use the quote as much as you like. As you may know, home-schoolers are constantly bombarded by questions that are more like accusations about the social development of their children. The assumptions behind the not-so-subtle attacks always need to be addressed. I'm so sorry about your daughters but there is always hope. I believe one of Margaret Thatcher's most well-known quotes was that the facts of life are conservative. I pray the facts of life will ultimately bring your daughters back. I trust God is whispering in their ears about those facts.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would never pretend to be the perfect parent, for I made my share of mistakes with our two boys. However, by 25 both were adult men, taking care of themselves and others. Both had some personal pride, and both would not ask for a handout unless they were literally helpless and starving. One is just 28, but has a great career and raising his own family.

The politically correct crap the current generation has been subjected to is largely to blame. We lament the work ethic of the younger generation, yet parents don't require teens to earn their way. Self-esteem is taught to be a right instead of earned. The schools have "zero tolerance" policies for self-defense so bullying is a worse problem than ever. Instant gratification is the new norm, when we should be emphasizing delayed gratification, independence, hard work, and personal responsibility.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wonder how many teens were encouraged to fight the Phantom war Global Warming?
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
From what I'm witnessing 35-45 is the new 15 year olds. Probably one of the best gauges on this subject are classroom teachers and school administrators. They have parent contact that certainly brings forth validation. They also have the contact with their students who express embarrassment and friustration of the parents.

it always amazes me at how so many parents escape their own parenting failures by blaming childrens social and academic failures onto public education and classroom teachers. Therein lies the generational problems of today that adults-parents. They don't want to claim any responsibility for much of anything. From birth to adulthood, children represent the environmental nurturing or lack of nurturing in the homes of their custodial parents.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
The culture has changed. Things that are okay today weren't only twenty or so years ago. You have no idea the negative impact the sixties generation had on our nation. I lived it. I'm old enough to remember Wally and the Bev, Linda Lovelace, I'm Okay- your Okay, Me too generation, If it feels good do it, free love, and the rest. The sixties is like an infection we just can't rid ourselves of.

As for 25 being the new fifteen. I know a woman who is pushing fifty and swears its the new twenty-five. She had an "enhancement" of impressive nature and decided that made her young again.

A counselor I spoke to in passing pointed out more than half of the divorces she deals with with couples in their forties had that issue involved. Something do do with refusing to grow up or having a "right" given to her by Demi Moore and Susan Sarandon and Courtney Cox to relive their twenties.

I think the disconnect from the realities of adulthood are not limited just to kids.

Like I said, it's the culture. So, I'm not going to say the kids are the only ones at fault here.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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