Monday, March 8, 2010

Delayed Maturity

Do you notice that it seems to be taking boys longer to mature into adulthood? Do you know of any “basement boys,” emerging adults who “find not only free lodging, meals and security at home but also the freedom to come and go at will and, in the privacy of their converted subterranean lairs where no one will tell them to make their beds, to play endlessly on their Playstation consoles?” Perhaps you’ve also heard the complaint by many young women who ask, “Where have all the men gone?” It was questions like these that motivated historian Gary Cross to write his book Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity (Columbia University Press). Cross calls many in this generation, “boy-men” who “live for today, disdain pretense and formality, are ever open to new thrills and experiences, but also mocking convention in celebration of amoral fantasy, crude vulgarity, and unrestrained appetite, the boy-man makes a fetish of the ‘cool.’”

Part of the problem is that “rites of passage” that typically aided in the maturation of young people are fading away. Many are having a hard time finding career-oriented work right out of college, marriage and child rearing have been delayed (if not abandoned altogether), and the entertainment industry has made being young so much “fun” that it is hard to let go. Cross traces the history of models of maturity, but does not glorify the past or point to a “golden age” when all boys matured to responsible adulthood.

In Men to Boys, Cross combines historical analysis with contemporary illustrations to reveal a generation of immature young people who need better models of maturity. By reading this book, parents will gain insight into how their children are bombarded by the media to remain “youth,” and pastors will be forced to consider how the church can minister to future generations.

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