Adolescence is Artificial

Adolescence is Artificial

Ok, I’ve known that for some time. But I found an interesting interview with a psychologist, Robert Epstein, who’s written a book on the subject, The Case Against Adolescence. It looks good.

I’m glad that the issue is getting some attention in the media and that at least some people are beginning to question our society’s problematic attitudes toward teens, the infantilization of adults, and the foundational problems with our educational system.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

What teens do is a small fraction of what they are capable of doing. If you mistreat or restrict them, performance suffers and is extremely misleading. The teens put before us as examples by, say, the music industry tend to be highly incompetent. Teens encourage each other to perform incompetently. One of the anthems of modern pop, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, is all about how we need to behave like we’re stupid.

Teens in America are in touch with their peers on average 65 hours a week, compared to about four hours a week in preindustrial cultures. In this country, teens learn virtually everything they know from other teens, who are in turn highly influenced by certain aggressive industries. This makes no sense. Teens should be learning from the people they are about to become. When young people exit the education system and are dumped into the real world, which is not the world of Britney Spears, they have no idea what’s going on and have to spend considerable time figuring it out.

Dom and I have spent quite a bit of time dissecting the problems of extended adolescence. Unfortunately, one of the conclusions we’ve reached, and that the article reaches as well, is that there’s only so much individual parents can do to reverse the trend. Certainly homeschooling might help, removing teens from the exclusive company of their peers and letting them spend more of their time with adults, learning how to be responsible and with younger children, exercising that responsibility by helping with younger siblings’ education. But there is only so much that can be done in the family setting. What teens really need is to be treated as responsible adults not only by their immediate families but by society at large.

Anyway, it’s a good article and I think I might try to pick up a copy of the book from the library.

Read the whole interview here.

(hat tip to Wittingshire)

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1 comment
  • She’s right, too, about America having rejected God (Christ) as King. That’s too bad.  Look where it’s gotten us.