Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

What Is The Motivation To Grow Up?

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Many of us are conscious of the fact that not only has our culture extending adolescence to about age 22, now "adultescence" seems to be becoming the norm. This phenomenon is experienced by parents whose adult children return home after college, for whatever reason - some financial, others just not sure what else to do - creating a large number of "failure to launch" scenarios for parents who should be retiring and worrying about their own parents, without adult children to worry about, too!

Paralleling this process seems to be what my daughter, a rising senior in high school, describes as her own "I won't grow up" crisis. She drives, she works, she makes decisions, she has friends and a boyfriend, she is excited about her summer plans, applying for college as well as going to college, and perceives her life as supported, magical and pretty darn perfect. So, why on earth should she look forward to being a grown-up?

What is the motivation? What do adults in our society have that teens and young adults who go to college do not - well let me see - marriages, bills, worry, stress, chores, a full time job, a house, cars to purchase and maintain, kids, colleagues, bosses, pets, neighborhood issues - and so on.

Newsflash folks, by giving our teens the rights and privileges associated with adulthood at younger and younger ages, we have effectively removed their motivation to grow up and leave home! Parenting has become a lifelong profession as we uberly competent and supportive parents have created a generation of young adults who do not need to become responsible for their own lives, and we have made it exceedingly difficult to answer the question - why should I grow up?

Beats me, is all I can say!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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