Rebecca Hagelin

Just who is a "young adult"?

Common sense says it starts with legal adulthood at age 18. But elements of our society have unofficially declared that the onset of adulthood matches the onset of puberty at the very grown-up age of 12. Which is one of the reasons why parents often seem uncertain about how to parent during the critical teen years.

I've come to believe that the term was designed to diminish parental influence during the years when our growing children need the most direction. It's a subtle way of telling us that we should relinquish our influence in their lives and allow the "professionals", who supposedly understand our sons and daughters better than we do, to help free them from parental prejudices.

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Great religious faiths, most notably Judaism, see the onset of manhood and womanhood at age 13 from a much wiser perspective. They understand that the child can personally choose to fully embrace his or her faith and live out that faith in a very tangible way. Rather than leaving the children to their own devices or delivering them to the hands of secularists, the parents make certain their children are immersed in contact with the religious leaders and teachings the parents hold dear. In stark contrast, the popular culture teaches our children that their parents' faith is easily exchangeable with another and even holds antiquated or oppressive moral standards which should be abandoned least the "young adult" become a full-grown bigot.

That of course, includes freeing our children from our sexual morals. I remember getting a required reading list from my daughter's school when she was 12 and then heading to the library to check out the content of the books. All of them were in a section marked, "young adults". That was puzzling enough, given that she had just left grammar school. So imagine how I felt when I started leafing through some of the books and found, not just adult concepts, but immoral xxx-rated adult content. It seems such material is common in the "young adult" section. (Ever heard of the series, "Gossip Girl"? The popular raunchy teen television show was based on this equally raunchy fiction series that has been teaching our little girls about incest, sleeping around, and all-things "adult" for years. That series can be found in the "young adults" section of many libraries too.)

Rebecca Hagelin

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
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