dependent teen

Dear Teen: Why Won’t You Grow Up?

Dear Mr. Dad: Back when I was in high school, all I wanted was to be independent. I wanted more responsibility, a job so I could have my own spending money, and I was obsessed with getting a girlfriend. Despite my parents’ warnings, I experimented with drinking alcohol and, well, a few other things. I’m asking because my two teens have zero interest in any of that—and as far as I can tell, neither do their friends. Is there something different about teens today or am I imagining things?

A: You’re not imagining. Teens and young adults these days are very different than we were their age when we were doing many of the things you described. San Diego State University researcher Jean Twenge and her Bryn Mawr College colleague Heejung Park just published a study that confirmed what a lot of us have long suspected: Compared to their parents and grandparents, today’s young people are much less mature, much less interested in taking on the trappings of adulthood (more on that in a minute), and are content to be dependent on their parents for far longer.

The quest for independence starts very early. Remember back when your kids were two and wanted to do everything themselves? And when they were three or four and wanted to do everything we did, whether it was talking on the phone, working on the computer, or washing dishes? That process—of seeking independence and engaging in adult-like activities—continues through adolescence and, theoretically at least, ends at actual adulthood.

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Armin Brott

View posts by Armin Brott
Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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