At what age would you say that children become adults? Sixteen? Eighteen? Twenty-one?
Answers among parents likely vary widely. Psychologist, author, and expert in adolescent and family relationships, Dr. Ken Wilgus, encourages parents to think of their teenagers as adults in training. Teens, he says, are not big children; they are young adults. Treating them as such is a process Dr. Wilgus calls “Progressive Emancipation.”
Around age 13, childhood comes to its natural end. That doesn’t mean your job as a parent is over, but your job changes. As they emerge into adulthood through their teens and into their twenties, your job will shift from teaching to training.
Dr. Wilgus describes progressive emancipation as you “marshaling an orderly retreat out of your teenagers’ lives.” That means deliberately work your way out of your responsibilities as a parent by the time your child is 18 and leaves home.
The world can be a harsh place to live. We cannot afford to produce weak-willed adults who don’t know what they think and have never practiced thinking it. They need to be ready, and we need to prepare them.
We’re listening to a recorded talk by Dr. Ken Wilgus on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Parenting Teens Toward Adulthood.” In this presentation given at a parents’ event in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. Wilgus explains how “progressive emancipation” works and how it can make parenting in the teen years smoother and more pleasant.
After Dr. Ken’s presentation, Pastor Dustin Tappan of Christ’s Church of the Valley emceed a question-and-answer session with the audience.
While you’re online, take a few moments to take our free parenting assessment. It will quickly give you an overview of how your family is doing in several key areas. It also offers suggestions for improving the relationships in your home.
I’d also like to extend an invitation for you to become a special partner with us through our monthly “Friends of Focus on the Family” program. When you do, I’ll send you a copy of Dr. Ken Wilgus’ Feeding the Mouth That Bites You: A Complete Guide to Parenting Adolescents and Launching Them into the World as a way of saying thank you for touching others with the love of Christ. You’ll also receive member-exclusive benefits. To make your pledge, or for more information, visit our website or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).