Teenage Adults

On the heels of Terrence O. Moore’s superb article, “Wimps and Barbarians,” is Joseph Epstein’s piece in the latest Weekly Standard entitled “The Perpetual Adolescent,” which examines the disappearance of adulthood in America. The article is quite eye-opening:

The old hunger for life, the eagerness to get into the fray, has been replaced by an odd patience that often looks more like passivity. In the 1950s, people commonly married in their twenties, which may or may not have been a good thing, but marriage did prove a forcing house into adulthood, for men and women, especially where children issued from the marriage, which they usually did fairly quickly. I had two sons by the time I was 26, which, among other things, made it impossible, either physically or spiritually, for me to join the general youth movement of the 1960s, even though I still qualified by age. It also required me to find a vocation. By 30, one was supposed to be settled in life: wife, children, house, job–“the full catastrophe,” as Zorba the Greek liked to say. But it was also a useful catastrophe. Today most people feel that they can wait to get serious about life. Until then one is feeling one’s way, still deciding, shopping around, contributing to the formation of a new psychological type: the passive-nonaggressive.

Epstein sees the influence of perpetual adolescence in such phenomena as political corectness, feminism, the self-esteem movement, and the general coarsening of the culture.

Epstein’s article is a must-read for children of all ages. If adulthood is vanquished, responsibility goes with it, and we’re lacking enough in that already.

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