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Weekly Reader 2.7.11

A case against  “emerging adults”

The theory of emerging adults has received tremendous play in the media, as mothering21 has covered in previous posts.  A critical take on the theory recently ran in Atlantis, an academic journal, with the telling title: “Slacking as Self-Discovery: The Rebranding of Indolence as ‘Emerging Adulthood.’”

The author, Harvard graduate student Rita Koganzon,  questions whether 20-somethings really need extra time to become mature and make life decisions or whether they just end up making the same good, bad, ugly decisions five years later than they should have.  She also wonders whether the extra time for “self-reflection” should be limited to Gen Y, writing,  somewhat sarcastically:

Certainly the twenties can’t be the only time when people wish for a reprieve from punching the clock and getting dinner on the table. People in their thirties and forties need to think through things too. What about the social-service needs of these groups? Shouldn’t they be freed from necessity as well, via government subsidy?

An argument against “emerging adulthood” worth reading.

Follow the leader

We all know it’s hard to give up control and let our adult children be in charge.  A West Virginia mom did just that while visiting her son in Chile.  In a humorous piece, “Earthquakes and Family Togetherness,” she relates what happened when she became the follower, not the leader. Lyn Widmyer writes:

My goal for the day was to allow my son to be in control and not revert to the role of mother in charge. I was determined to forge an adult relationship with my 25-year-old son and respect his guidance.

That is why I found myself crawling like a Chilean tree lizard under three rows of barbed wire…

But what is even more amazing is that after spending two weeks together, my adult children are still speaking to me.

Another Chinese law for adult children

In an interesting turn of phrase, a New York Times letter writer calls the tendency of our society to shut off older people “family apartheid.”

The writer, Bette Dewing,  was referring to an article about a proposal in the Chinese Civil Affairs Ministry to mandate adult children to visit elderly relatives on a regular schedule. If they don’t, their parents would be allowed to sue them.  The proposal, given little chance of passing, grew out of concern about the recent tripling of the suicide rate among urban elderly aged 70-74, many of whom now live alone instead of with families as in previous generations.

In response to the article Ms. Dewing wrote:

And even when parents are old, ailing and often living alone or in a nursing home, they are still out on a socially acceptable ice floe when it comes to offspring.

The trouble is that most parents of adults do not talk about the heartbreak they feel over the loss of this primary relationship. Indeed many justify it, saying, “But they have their lives.” …

Sure, pass a law to get offspring to visit if need be; do whatever it takes to overcome this most heartbreaking and also unjust “family apartheid.”

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