Just who is a "young adult"?

Common sense says it starts with legal adulthood at age 18. But elements of our society have unofficially declared that the onset of adulthood matches the onset of puberty at the very grown-up age of 12. Which is one of the reasons why parents often seem uncertain about how to parent during the critical teen years.

I've come to believe that the term was designed to diminish parental influence during the years when our growing children need the most direction. It's a subtle way of telling us that we should relinquish our influence in their lives and allow the "professionals", who supposedly understand our sons and daughters better than we do, to help free them from parental prejudices.

Great religious faiths, most notably Judaism, see the onset of manhood and womanhood at age 13 from a much wiser perspective. They understand that the child can personally choose to fully embrace his or her faith and live out that faith in a very tangible way. Rather than leaving the children to their own devices or delivering them to the hands of secularists, the parents make certain their children are immersed in contact with the religious leaders and teachings the parents hold dear. In stark contrast, the popular culture teaches our children that their parents' faith is easily exchangeable with another and even holds antiquated or oppressive moral standards which should be abandoned lest the "young adult" become a full-grown bigot.

That of course, includes freeing our children from our sexual morals. I remember getting a required reading list from my daughter's school when she was 12 and then heading to the library to check out the content of the books. All of them were in a section marked, "young adults." That was puzzling enough, given that she had just left grammar school. So imagine how I felt when I started leafing through some of the books and found, not just adult concepts, but immoral xxx-rated adult content. It seems such material is common in the "young adult" section. (Ever heard of the series, Gossip Girl? The popular raunchy teen television show was based on this equally raunchy fiction series that has been teaching our little girls about incest, sleeping around, and all-things "adult" for years. That series can be found in the "young adults" section of many libraries too.)

"Young adult" is the phrase that you often hear to describe your child when sex educators and Planned Parenthood types try and convince you that your daughter should be making her own decisions about her sexual identification, activity and, of course, abortions.

Age 12 is also about the time when pediatricians (note: doctors who take care of children) now often ask mom to leave the room so they can have a private discussion with our "young adult" about birth control and "choice".

But who will be held responsible when your "young adult" gets into trouble? Only you.

Don't abandon your child.

In survey after survey of teens they echo a desire for more of you in their lives, not less.

Your teen understands that you should be the primary one to guide and teach them even though the culture tries to brain wash them into believing otherwise.

Refuse to be silenced when some professional refers to your child as a "young adult" in the same sentence they tell you that they are the adult your child should rely on.

Again, the Jewish faith offers a time-honored way to deeply connect with and influence your child at any age:

Bless your child every day with loving, meaningful touch. Bless your child with positive words, and with a vision for his life of a bright future filled with hope. Bless your child by letting her know that as long as there is breath in you, you will be there for her. Bless your child by telling him there is a God who loves and created him with purpose.

These parental blessings are treasures for children - and adults - of any age. Don't let anyone keep you from blessing yours.

December 7, 2009


Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family. Visit her website at www.HowToSaveYourFamily.com. where you can sign up to receive her free e-newsletter containing the Culture Challenge of the Week and how to fight back. Hagelin is also senior communications fellow for The Heritage Foundation.