Adolescence, the newest research shows, is from 13 to 26+.
The first Adulthood begins between 28 and 30.
A mother of babies ages 1 and 3 called me this week for marriage counseling. She’s 23. Her husband, 24, called me today to cancel, he refuses – he’s not ready. They’ve been together 7 years, he’s moved out. And, even with such little information, I know that, of course he’s not ready! He’s an adolescent boy ready for adventure and exploration. My hopes that he might consider developing his manhood now would require him to resist his innate drive to develop identity and leap (unprepared, immature and un-mentored) into the responsibility for the role of husband and father. We need our men – but we can’t mix up an instant fix to inject them with adulthood; that takes time, experience and the wonder of growing up.
I see this all the time: we, the adults, abandon the schooling of many teens in the ways they need (most of them have given up trying). So, without healthy adventures for experimentation, the teens self-stimulate. They usually find what kids can access; they “use” sex, alcohol, drugs, protest songs and virtual reality with their peers to assuage the relentless desire for experience which naturally sculpts identity.
So, at 16 and 17, these two teens got together and now they have two children. She can’t leave her little ones and he can’t take the conflicts over his going out to do what adolescents do with their friends rather than staying with her as a husband and father. She is left exhausted, discouraged and trapped as a girl who must abandon herself and care for her babies. My heart weeps for all of them.
Meanwhile, dear teenagers, may my mentoring help you to put yourself in adventures and experiences. I encourage you to seek and explore the best in the world that you can reach. And, I hope that you refuse to stay stuck with those who abandon their shining dreams, substantial goals and thrilling adventures.