If I posted this article about Emerging Adulthood from USA Today (published in Dec. 2007) the link has since been lost. Here it is again. It's worth revisiting.
What do you think? In your cultural social community, at what point does a child become an adult? How do you know? How does the child know? What changes? Is it the same for everyone? Is it something we encourage or discourage? How do we encourage or discourage? Is that deciding moment important? Why?
When my son was in elementary school he went with his dad to help renovate the church building. When the men stopped to have coffee, my husband offered him a cup of coffee because he spent a half day working just as hard as the men. You can debate the health and safety issues but the heart of the matter was the work he did and the acknowlegement he received. It was a big deal. Was he forever an adult after that moment? [smile] Not yet. But it was one of those moments he'll never forget.
Coming-of-age/age of accountability/responsibility . . . What parts are cultural? What parts are Biblical? What do the scriptures say or imply about accountability and responsibility? I think of other times and cultures actively teaching children about consequences and actively holding children responsible for their choices. I see them giving children more and more work and responsibility (as they can handle it) - work that's important to the welfare of community. But there is a moment when the entire community recognize these children as full-fledged adults. They aren't perfectly grown up but something changes. In most cultures, it's physical.
Not so in our culture.
What messages do we send to kids/teens/tweens about growing up? How do we communicate what we believe? Is growing up, carrying responsibility, being independent something to be proud of or something to put off and avoid? Do the rituals that we do participate in produce better adjusted, hard-working responsible God-fearing adults? What does?