Thus, it hit me when I recently read two articles on the growing problem of children from affluent Christian settings not being ready psychologically or emotionally for adulthood. First, I noticed where John Piper wrote about "'adultolescence'—that is, the postponement of adulthood into the thirties." He references another work that defines further what this phenomenon entails. Then, he goes on to discuss how the Church should respond:
How might the church respond to this phenomenon in our culture? Here are my suggestions.
1. The church will encourage maturity, not the opposite. “Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20)....
He adds a total of 15 suggestions. Good stuff, and especially important to keep in mind if we're working with youth or college students.
It all reminded me of this post by Anthony Bradley I read entitled The Suburban Church: Ushering Kids Into Counseling In Their 20s and 30s. Anthony notes,
Raising church kids in the suburbs may be setting them up for psychological distress in their 20s and 30s. A few weeks ago at a youth group from a very large church in a middle class suburb of St. Louis, I asked the following question: 'What are your parents doing to you right now that will probably guarantee that you will be in counseling when you’re in your 20s and 30s?'
I knew about the nearly irreversible lacerations of divorce or the nuclear fallout when negative comments about appearance are delivered to daughters. I was shocked by the other laments. Here is just a small sample from that night...
Once this dam broke the youth pastor had to cut it off so he could give his talk about how the Gospel addresses all of their issues related to past pain. Many hands were still up in the air. It was sad. Dr. Madeline Levin, in The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids, summarizes new national data saying, 'America’s newly identified at-risk group is preteens and teens from affluent, well-educated families. In spite of their economic and social advantages, they experience among the highest rates of depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, somatic complaints, and unhappiness of any group of children in this country.' It seems that this is no different in churches of affluence. What happened?
And I think we can all wonder that question. The question for us as parents now, though, is how do we prevent this from being the case for us too?