Do me a favor and re-read the title of this post one more time. I believe it accurately states the current adolescent journey.
For those of us who work with junior highers, it presents a unique opportunity (challenge):
How do we help young teenagers hold onto childhood/youthful innocence while adequately preparing them for young adulthood in our culture?
The first part of the issue (too old, too soon) is nothing new. Sociologists have for several decades been observing and writing about the myriad of ways our culture forces aspects of adulthood onto children at far too young an age. When I was in college almost 25 years ago, one of our text books was David Elkind’s classic, “All Grown Up and No Place To Go.”
But the problem of extended adolescence (too young, too long) is a newer development…or at least a newer conversation among youth workers.
So we have a bit of a catch 22, it seems. Junior high youth workers today (and this may be the first time you’ve thought of it in this light) get to live, minister, lead and love-on young teenagers in a “both/and” fashion; that protects them from being too old, too soon yet helps prevent them from staying too young, too long.
How do we do this? I’m not sure! But I’m eager to learn.
If you are going to SYMC, this topic will be part of our junior high track. But I’d love to get the conversation started here, and let everybody who reads the blog share their thoughts.