How long is adolescence?

There are a couple of articles floating around that  adolescence lasts longer than we thought. This is no news to any parent, who realizes that 18 is just a number, not a magic moment when a young person suddenly becomes wholly responsible for his or her life and manages to thoughtfully and wisely think through decisions.

However, a lot of parents also know something else: if you treat a kid as a kid, they will keep acting like a kid as long as you let them. Call it being a "helicopter" parent or rescuing or whatever, a young person will learn what you teach them. And if you teach them that, at age 24, you'll still bail them out of a jam, they'll keep doing it.

Here is a good thing for a parent of a young adult to say, "Wow. That sounds tough. What are you going to do about it?"

Another good one: "Yeah, I remember when that happened to me. It was hard. How are you planning on dealing with it?"

If you say things like, "Oh, Dad and I will give you the money" or "I'll be happy to call your prof/boss/doctor/plumber/mechanic and take care of that", then  you will have a 25 year old adolescent on your hands. You'll be doing no one any favors.

I know (oh, trust me: I KNOW) that young brains don't fully develop until mid-twenties or so. But we train our brains. Remember teaching your toddler colors and numbers? You started really early, far earlier than they'd be able to rattle off, "twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine." But you were training their little brains. Train bigger brains: rely on yourself. Figure it out. Gut it out. Pray. Ask for advice. Figure out who to trust and when.

Because no one wants a 30 year old adolescent. We have enough of them.

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