Adolescence in America is mutating at an impressive rate. The experience of being a teenager has similarities to whatever your experience and mine were, of course; but there are plenty of dissimilarities. Many of these shifts are things we’re all aware of, if we stop to think about them: increased pressure and stress, constant access to and bombardment of information, instant everything (including an expectation of instant, no-presence-required communication). Each of these interwoven shifts (and others) have an impact on the spiritual lives of teenagers, of course, and we youth workers need to be thoughtful about where we pander or acquiesce, and where we take counter-cultural stands, helping teenagers know and embrace what I like to call a “truthier truth.” (I suppose “truer truth” would be more grammatically correct, but I like the former, so deal with it.)
But perhaps the biggest shift in American adolescence is the duration.
Adolescence is now, on average, an almost 20-year trek, lasting all the way through the 20s. Of course, there are 20somethings who are fully living as adults long before they reach the ‘used to be the marker of entering middle age’: 30. But then, there are plenty of young 30somethings still living in an extended adolescence.
There are hundreds of questions we could ask about this, and thousands we could ask about the implications. But I want to zero in on one:
What impact does extended adolescence have on the faith formation of teenagers? Ok, a second question: How should we respond?
[Go here] for the rest of the article.
2 Comments Published by Terrace Crawford on 9/28/11 at 7:34 AM.
I've done some research and have been having lots of conversations with youth workers on a growing phenomenon known as "Extended Adolescence." One of the people that I love hearing from on this topic (who has done much more research than I) is my friend, Mark Oestreicher (Marko).
Recently Marko's new start-up (the Youth Cartel) announced that he was hosting a symposium on the heels of the National Youth Worker's Convention this year in Atlanta and he's invited a few leading experts to share on this important subject matter.
I asked Marko if he would write a piece for ChurchLeaders and asked him to address a couple of questions. We featured this article just yesterday on the site. If you missed it you can catch an exerpt here on my blog and [go here] for the rest: