Tag Archives: extended adolescence

my talks on extended adolescence to the parents at my church

recently my church held an amazing ‘parent summit’ on a saturday morning. we’ve done these before, but this one took it up about 16 notches. we had an amazing turn-out, and great participation. our ‘generations pastor’, brian berry, blogged an overview of the whole day here.

here’s the link for the podcast page of the content for the whole day.

but i was asked me to specifically address the topic of extended adolescence.

my first talk, to all the parents, was called THE ILLUSION OF ADOLESCENCE, AND HOW IT’S DAMAGING OUR CHILDREN. if you want to hear it, it starts at the 8-minute mark on this mp3 (but brian berry’s opening comments are really worth hearing also), and i land with a bump just before the 32-minute mark. i was feelin’ a bit feisty, as you might notice.

then, my talk to only the parents of teenagers, on how we can respond to the reality i talked about in that earlier piece, starts at the 17-minute mark, and ends at the 45-minute mark here

three helpful epstein tests

i’ve mentioned dr. robert epstein‘s book, teen 2.0 on this blog a few times. it continues to shape my thinking (and, i can tell, the thinking of those in the one of my youth ministry coaching program cohorts that read the book).

i’d been aware of a couple of dr. epstein’s simple, online diagnostic tests. but i finally looked at them in more detail the other day, after he emailed me to tell me about his newest online test.

first, the ones i’d already been aware of:

how adult are you?
this test is based on the competencies of adulthood that epstein developed in conjunction with writing teen 2.0 (and it’s earlier version, the case against adolescence). not only is it interesting to take (i was VERY relieved to score 96%, btw!), the results show the categories that epstein describes as the primary competencies of adulthood.

and, there are a couple things worth mentioning here:
first, epstein found that, when he administered this test to a sizeable group of mid- and older teens, as well as a sizeable group of adults, there was no statistically significant difference between the groups. what that reveals, or at least suggests, is that older teenagers (say, 16 – 20 year-olds) have the capacity for living as adults. capacity is an important word there — because, as the book unpacks, and all of us youth workers are observing, teenagers and young adults are postponing adulthood longer and longer.

how infantalized are you?
this second test measures teen and young adult infantilization, or, to what extent they are treated as children, rather than aspiring adults. it didn’t make sense to take this one myself; but i’d be very interested to have a group of high schoolers (and even moreso, young adults) from my church take the test.

epstein’s newest online tool is based on what he’s now considering a “disorder” (of sorts):
extended childhood disorder
this would be interesting to use with young adults who seem stuck in extended adolescence, and would be good to use as a 3rd set part along with the other two.

all very useful, i think, for our youth ministry contexts.

btw: ys booked epstein to speak in a ‘big room’ at next fall’s national youth workers convention in san diego. should be very interesting!

a handful of noteworthy (or at least amusing) links, part 1 (of 2)

my broken palace is a great (new) ministry site for people (from the looks of it, teenagers and young adults) in pain. it’s just getting going, and i’m expecting it will be more robust in the months to come. from their “about us” page:

Our shared desire is that no one should ever have to deal with the crushing weight of loneliness, depression, anxiety, stress, abuse, addictions, or thoughts of suicide alone. Become part of the movement. Whether you are the one in need or someone who desires to encourage others in theirs, My Broken Palace embraces your participation.

it’s a good resource for youth workers also, either to point hurting teens to, or as a reference (see the “get help” page) for online links and referral stuff.


truly, one of the strangest interactive webthings i’ve seen in a while: nails. not a game, just a very strange mouse click interaction featuring a few dozen dudes exhibiting odd behavior. weird. but not in a bad way.


now that i’m thinking more about the problem of extended adolescence, i’m also noticing our cultural endorsement of it more often. for instance, this cnn.com article on homeless ‘youth’ (focused on denver), uses the terms ‘youth’, ‘teen’ and ‘young adult’, but never ‘young adult’ or anything else remotely adult. every ‘youth’ they refer to in the article, or in photo captions in the gallery, is between 18 and 26. fascinating to me, and frustrating also.


here’s a lovely little time-waster: pulsate. not a game, really. just a visual and aural treat. click your mouse and start expanding circles, which chime and retract when they bump into each other. i had fun trying different patterns to see how they’d play out. and — crazy — it was relaxing.

extended adolescence

lots of adolescent specialists have been talking and writing, for a number of years, about the upper-end extension of adolescence (at the same time as puberty has dropped, creating a greatly lengthened adolescent experience). people have started to talk about adolescence in three phases:
– young teen (roughly 11 – 14)
– middle teen (roughly 15 – 19)
– emerging adulthood (roughly 20 – 25 or longer)

but this article in ypulse, referencing this article on vox marketing is the first time i’ve heard about research saying adolescence is, in some ways, extended well into the 30s! holy cow.

this is a result of our cultural descriptions of adulthood:

Because the traditional duties that come with adulthood, like mortgages, children, marriage, and developing a strong sense of self-identity now happen later in life, 52% of 25-34 year-olds said they still have “a lot of growing up to do.”

another key quote:

“Even in these financially challenging times, people are trying to stay younger for longer,” said Kevin Razvi, EVP and managing director of VBSI. “25-to-34 year-olds are continuing to consume music, gaming and the internet and are enjoying the pursuits of their younger years while benefiting from a greater level of personal and financial freedom.”

they talk about three phases of “youth” this way:
– “discovery” is defined as 16-19 years old
– “experimentation” is 20-24 years old
– and “golden” is 25-34 years old.

interesting how these ideas align (though the ages don’t at all!) with stephen glenn’s old model, that i’ve taught for years (i might not have the age brackets right here, but this is how i’ve talked about them):

birth – 2: discovery
3 – 7: testing
8 – 10: concluding
— puberty —
11 – 13: discovery
14 – 17: testing
18+: concluding

given this new extending of adolescence, i’m wondering if there’s almost a third turn of glenn’s cycle. interesting stuff for thought.