View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Growing up isn’t what it used to be

Posted: December 15, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 15, 2013 2:00 a.m.

At a recent seminar I listened as the presenter explained the social phenomenon now understood as “expanding adolescence.” It’s quite simple. While in the 1950’s the life stage known as adolescence was defined as the 12-18 age period, it is now recognized that adolescence often expands up to 30 years of age. And if you just take a careful look around, you’ll see this is no hair-brained idea.

In New York Times Magazine, August 18, 2010, Robin Marantz Henig chronicled the explosive emergence of “20 somethings” that are simply refusing to grow up. Her research found that one-third find a new place to live every year, while 40 percent end up moving home with their parents. They run through an average of 7 jobs in their 20’s while two-thirds co-habitat before marriage. And if they do marry, it happens five years later than it did for the generation just preceding them. Henig reports that the sociologists are referring to this cultural dynamic as “the changing timetable for adulthood.”

While some may consider this generation is simply taking more time to make the basic decisions of life, I’d like to propose another theory to explain what appears to be a cultural aberration. I think they just have never learned to plan, have never had to, and now don’t want to, and don’t know how.

I realize this is a broad brushed, even somewhat harsh generalization. I also realize that there are many 20 somethings that don’t fit in this shoe, and I applaud them for it. There are many who formulated a plan while in their teen years, worked hard to gain a useable education, travelled the path of romance in an honorable manner, and gained the privileges of family and career without giving in to the selfish inertia that is affecting so many of their peers. They simply decided what was worth doing, and then got busy doing it. It wasn’t that they were smarter. It was that they were discerning, able to look through the fog of our amusement driven society to find a purpose for their existence, and a passion worth pursuing.

Given that this is an ethics column it will come as no surprise that the fundamental reason some are efficient in growing up and becoming valuable contributors to society rather than hitchhikers on the highway of life is that, at their core, they believe something that brings a needed sense of urgency to the essential components of their lives. They have convictions, and those convictions contribute to their strength of character, their passion to persevere through trials, and their dedication to make each day count.

Fifty years ago my father was already busy teaching me that each day was a unique, 24-hour gift from God that would never be given in the same way, with the same opportunities again … ever. Each day is like money, and how you spend it will eventually determine the value of your life.

But this kind of intentional thinking seems to be jettisoned to the gutter more and more today, especially as we see a corresponding sense among the young that life really has no meaning except to make money, and enjoy not working. We’re fast becoming a society that believes being passive is the goal. It sees the best work is the least work. And if not working works, why not postpone adulthood since we all know it really just means “work.”

An old mentor once told me “I don’t let other people spend my money; why would I let them spend my time?” That stuck with me as a young man and it worries me today that too many are happily engaged in spending their time in ways that stunt their maturity. Being a child is fine but not when you’re 30.

Hey 20 somethings, we need you! We need you to understand that your generation is a goldmine of talent, creativity, and meaning. We just hope you’ll discover about yourselves what we already know, and soon. After all, someday all this will be yours, and those of us who are on the way out just hope you’ll know what to do with it.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs every Sunday in The Signal.


Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...