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Escaping the Endless Adolescence’ by Joseph Allen


Teenage is considered to be the most important stage of development. This stage has a very significant role in an individual’s physical and psychological development. It is commonly agreed that the kind of life that an individual lives at this stage has a great influence on the future life. Although it is at this stage that individuals enjoy their lives most, the stage is full of challenges. Teenagers often involve themselves in various things experimentally leading to many mistakes. Some teenagers get themselves involved in unhealthy habits such as drugs and illicit sex. At this stage, the teenagers are expected to acquire formal education to help them establish careers for themselves. Despite challenges involved in this stage of development, individuals are expected to be ready for adulthood at the end of the stage (Ampter, 2002). This however is not been the case in recent days. Young adults in recent years seem not prepared for adult life. Most of them do not have the self-confidence to make decisions by themselves and live independently of their parents. High young adults’ dependence raises questions at various platforms. In their book “Escaping the endless adolescent: How we can help our teenagers grow up before they grow old” (Allen & Allen, 2009), Joseph Allen and Claudia Allen address the issue in a normative manner. They provide convincing explanations to the issue and offer advice on how teenagers can be prepared for adulthood. This paper reviews the issues in relation to Joseph and Claudia’s work.

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Slow Maturity in Modern Teenagers

Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell equate 25 years of modern young adults to 15 years (Allen & Allen, 2009). At 25 years an individual is expected to be mature and able to make decisions by themselves. As they note, this is not the case in modern days. At 25 years, most young adults are not able to make decisions by themselves or live independently of their parents. They depend on their parents not only for financial support but also in making simple decisions. As much as this seems to be usual and acceptable, Joseph and Worrell Allen say that this should not be the case. Basing their arguments on their extensive experience in clinical psychology, the authors attribute the trend to how modern teenagers are brought up (Allen & Allen, 2009). They show that the way teenagers are brought up leads to slow development to maturity. They attribute the situation to the “nurture paradox” (Allen & Allen, 2009); by shielding the teenagers from the rigors of adulthood, the teenagers have been denied the opportunity to develop. The authors find fault with current systems such as the education system. They say that the education system has generalized issues thus denying teenagers the opportunity to gain independence. The environment in which teenagers develop is also generalized. For instance, teenagers view virtually the same television programs and listen to similar kinds of music. They are then not able to develop independence. At nineteen years, most youths are not able to make decisions by themselves but depend on their parents or peers. According to scholars, excessive teenagers’ and young adults’ dependence is disadvantageous to themselves and their parents. The dependence asserts pressure on parents as they take care of otherwise should be independent individuals. On the other hand, this situation denies teenagers and young adults the rewards of adult life. They conclude that the way teenagers are brought up should change to allow teenagers to “grow as they grow old” (Allen & Allen, 2009).

Teenagers today seem to develop slowly as compared to in the past (Bronson, 2009). Teenagers spend more time preparing for adulthood than it was in the past. After going through the education system, teenagers still seem unprepared for adulthood. They do not have the confidence to start their lives by themselves or make major decisions in their lives. Young adults are expected to find jobs and start their own lives after completing their college education. Later in their lives, they are expected to make decisions on where they want to live, the career they want to pursue, marriage and other important issues. Joseph and Worrell Allen attribute the situation to the inability of teenagers and young adults to launch (Bronson, 2009). Although they might be aware of what is right for them they are not able to make decisions. They are not confident that they can live independent of their parents and other individuals that make decisions for them. Joseph and Morrell Allen conclude that young adults are simply not prepared for adulthood (Allen & Allen, 2009). They say that the mind of modern teenagers is not fully developed for adulthood. They mainly attribute the situation to the education system. The long period of time spent in educations shield teenagers from challenges. Apart from education, their parents are always there to make decisions and do almost everything for them. Instead of helping the teenagers, excessive care slows down their development into adulthood. The education system does not seem to provide the teenagers with all that they require for their live. Teenagers are provided with virtually the same education. Subjects taught in schools are virtually the same irrespective of individuals’ educational needs or capability (Cicchetti & Toth, 1996). In effect, the teenagers lose their uniqueness and independence. This is consequently carried over to adulthood.

The slow development of teenagers in today’s society is mainly a result of poor parenthood (Allen & Allen, 2009). Allen attributes the slow growth of teenagers to excessive care from parents. They say that unlike previously thought, slow development into adulthood is not a result of adolescent hormones taking long to disappear but teenagers’ brains not being fully developed. They attribute the slow development of teenagers’ brains to parenting style. They say that most parents in modern society shield their teenagers from experiences that would have helped them develop. For instance, teenagers are shielded from a negative experience and only presented with unreal life. Consequently, teenagers fail to learn to have the right fears. They end up fearing what they should not or not having fear where they should (Steinberg, 2007). They are also not able to learn the right risks that they should make and those that they should not. Joseph and Morrell Allen attribute risk behaviors in adolescence such as alcoholism, drug abuse and illicit sex to failure to provide the teenagers with productive risks (Allen & Allen, 2009). The scholars say that for lack of productive ways to risk, the teenagers result to the risky behaviors that can have severe implications on their lives. They explain that the parenting environment has sidelined the teenagers from active life thus denying them the opportunity to develop.


According to Joseph and Morrell Allen, the solution to the slow development of teenagers to adulthood lies in changing how parenting is made. The authors say that teenagers should be provided with an appropriate environment to allow them to develop easily into adulthood. To overcome this challenge, the authors advocate less shielding and better communication between teenagers and their parents. They advise parents to go beyond spoken words or interpreting actions but use their overall experience with their teenagers for communication. They advocate for mutual respect in communication. They say that teenagers should feel free to express themselves without fear of intimidation. The parents should provide the teenagers with the right feedback in order to help them mature (Allen & Allen, 2009). Through feedback, the teenagers will be able to know how the world perceives them and in the process grow. Joseph and Morrell Allen assert that teenagers need to be provided with adult experience for them to grow. They advocate volunteer activities and the right kind of employment as some of the ways to help teenagers mature (Allen & Allen, 2009). The excessive nurturing nature of modern parents is associated to slow maturity. The authors advise parents to allow teenagers to do some things by themselves. This would help them explore their capability and stretch beyond their comfort levels (Allen & Allen, 2009). This also allows them to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Despite teenagers’ tendency to alienate themselves, the authors advise that parents should provide them with adult connections. They say that teenagers need mature interactions for them to move smoothly from adolescence to adulthood.


Adolescence is usually a challenging stage. Many parents find difficulties in seeing their teenagers through this stage into adult life. In addition to conventional challenges associated with adolescence, many teenagers are experiencing difficulties in transitioning to adulthood. Many teenagers are dependent on their parents not only for financial supports but also for decisions. Joseph and Morrell Allen attribute this trend to poor parenting. They advocate for teenagers to be provided with opportunities to cultivate adult traits. Right employment, volunteer activities and being allowed to do some things by themselves are some of the helpful things.

Reference List

  1. Allen, C. Allen, J., (2009). Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old. New York: Ballantine Books.
  2. Ampter, T., (2002). The myth of maturity: What teenagers need from parents to become adults. New York: W. W. Norton.
  3. Cicchetti, D. & Toth, S. (1996). Adolescence: opportunities and challenges. New York: University of Rochester Press.
  4. Steinberg, L. (2007). Adolescence. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

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