Normal risk taking at 14 or 15 would have prepared them for life decisions. Read More
Wondering how the slow development of the frontal cortex relates to human evolutionary development. Given their short lives and many dangers around them, what survival advantage would risk taking behavior being greater at a young age confer? It would seem to me that a certain attitude of "indestructibility" could be useful to people who had only about 30 years to get through life, survive and raise the next generation. Thoughts?
As the parent of a naturally cautious 17 year male, I have not had to go through the hell I put my parents through. I took all sorts of risks when younger, and I was lucky not to have paid the ultimate consequence for my actions. My son is much more mature for his age than I was at 17.
Today parents are held responsible for their teenagers behaviour to a greater extent than 30 years ago. We have to take precautions...otherwise we end up losing everything. No more house parties, if some gets into an accident and is killed the host parents are libel. Other examples too numerous to count...
And before that time, teens didn't need to engage in any damned risk-taking. They were too busy working in the fields, or factories, or the like for 10-12 hours a day—6-7 days a week. There was no modern adolesence until after WWII, so whatever "risktaking" you think young people need before growing up is news to everybody.
Young people need jobs that pay enough to 1.Set up an independant household 2. Start families 3. Be a homeowner. Those kinds of jobs were readily available after WWII, up until the last 20 years. 30 years ago you could do all that with a high school diploma.
Instead of blaming today's young people for not being "mature enough", how's about you show gratitude that they're not acting like people their age were around the turn of the last century—popping out 7 or eight kids to send to the factory, while the whole bunch lives in an overcrowded walkup (and neither parent knows how to read!).
Tim, I enjoyed your article and agree that this message needs to get to more people. There are very positive aspects of risk-taking in adolescence! I wrote a similar article at Roots of Action recently, http://www.rootsofaction.com/why-risk-taking-may-increase-teens-happiness/.
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Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders, an international non-profit organization created to develop emerging leaders.
It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.