Some noodlings and otherwise, un-properly documented quotes (no doubt) thus far…
Clark, Chap, and Steve Rabey. 2009. When Kids Hurt: Help for Adults Navigating the Adolescent Maze. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Clark, Chap. 2011. Hurt 2.0: Inside the Worlds of Today’s Teenagers. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Elkind, David. 2007. The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast and Too Soon. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
The surrendering of adolescents to “adult-driven and adult-controlled programs, systems, and institutions that are primarily concerned with adults’ agendas, needs, and dreams” (Clark and Rabey, 35).
Causes of Abandonment: (Post WW2)
Several factors, three important ones being (there are more):
1) The attempt by adults to redefine their “roles and relationships within the family system” …and “finding their own way through life.”
2) Gradual redefining of the family less in relational terms, and more in terms of resource-sharing.
3) Rise of adult divorce rates from 2% (1940) to 43 % (2002).
These (and others) factors have left adolescents alone with the task of handling unstable homes, unstable relationships with adults/parents, and the lack of a sense of belonging, security, and safety necessary for them to move through the lengthened stages of adolescence toward becoming fully individuated adults (or “emerging adults”).
“Abandonment” as “Exclusion”:
Perhaps it is better to describe the dynamic by the word “exclusion” rather than “abandonment,” as the latter potentially implies a more conscious, or “willful” act on the part of adults who, after all, likely have their children’s best interests in mind when (fearfully) inserting them into systems that parents probably think will protect their children from harm. This is the irony of it all.
Adolescents are “excluded” from the socio-cultural complexes and goods that can provide the security and safety they seek in the complexes that have changed over time, and the goods that are now perceived to be limited in light of competition. Indeed, the latter is embodied in the cultural narrative described by Walter Brueggemann as the “Myth of Scarcity.”
What Abandonment/Exclusion Looks Like: (just a few examples)
1) The social segregation of adolescents from adults throughout most institutions (churches, programs, etc.)
2) Conditional relationships
- Relationships with youth initiated by adults but based on/maintained by performance (if the young person responds the way adults want them to)
- Relationships that are maintained on the basis of structure/place: “Jr. High” ministry – “Sr. High Ministry” – College Ministry (cf. segregation)
3) Divorce = parental abandonment/exclusion from resources due to adult interests/personal-development
4) Adult overemphasis on time constraints (busyness) resulting in lack of listening/interest in adolescents
5) The leaving of adolescent faith-formation to “professional organizations” (like Church or Young Life) rather than making it a family matter
6) Overscheduling of adolescents with activities – sports, volunteer hours – based on competition (“myth of scarcity” “limited good”)
7) Programs that only invite adolescents to adults space/programs without going out to them
8) Academic Policies nurturing competition in the classroom
9) Academic Admission Requirements
10) “One strike and you’re out” disciplinary policies betray an institutions lack of interest in late-adolescents’ struggle to transist from their familiar “world beneath” in high school, to the adult world of college. Punitively cutting them loose and thus, avoiding the creation of nurturing systems and structures that might assist adolescents in the transition.
Competition in Euro-American Culture:
Competition is a prevalent problem facing adolescents in America today. Since competition is ultimately based on the idea of “limited good,” and thus reflects an over-arching “myth of scarcity” written into our North American socio-economic complex. Thus, young people are persuaded that it is vitally important to perform better than their peers – sometimes at all costs – in order to insure the acquisition of social capital necessary for construing their identity and place in the dominant, adult-interest driven culture. [The criticism is valid that the dichotomy imagined here between adult-adolescent isn’t comprehensive enough…consumerism/adolescents etc. etc. may be equally valid]