Excerpt from the book Generation iY Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.

Chapter 4: Tollbooth or Roadblock? Why Generation iY Kids Are Getting Stuck in Adolescence

generation iY I had just landed in Dallas. My ?ight was delayed again, and it was late at night. As I drove my car along a service road, I noticed the headlights of a large pickup truck in my rear view mirror.

He was coming up fast behind me. I put on my turn signal and started to turn into my hotel parking lot when it happened. He swerved to miss me and screeched his tires, but he couldn’t do it fast enough.

Slam! He hit the back of my car. I was okay, but I could tell my vehicle was damaged. I started to get out of my car, when I realized it wasn’t over. The other driver suddenly turned his engine back on and raced away.

The easiest thing to do would be to pull into the hotel, get a good night’s sleep,and pay for the damage myself. But I decided I wasn’t going to do the easy thing.Even though I was tired, I pulled out to follow him. All of a sudden, my night turned into a TV show.

When he realized I was following him, he sped up, running a red light and turning at every corner he could. He was determined to lose me, but I was determined to catch him.

I remember feeling very calm. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t looking for revenge or to punish him.

I simply wanted him to be responsible for what he had done. I wanted to make the point that life is not about running away from your mistakes. Well, the chase went on for ?fteen minutes.

As I drove, I scribbled down his license plate number, then called 911 and gave it to them. But I didn’t stop then. I stayed with that pickup truck through parking lots, behind buildings, and through alleys.

It was a little exhilarating. I wanted to help the police navigate to where he was. Finally, my hit-and-run driver pulled into an apartment complex. As he pulled around a bend, a police squad car pulled up in front of him while I, in my damaged car, parked right behind him. He was trapped.

He gave up, and the case was solved. Let me share with you the insights I garnered from this little episode. This driver was young (Generation iY). The police discovered he was quite intelligent.

He was also drunk, and he was running from responsibility. He desperately hoped that his mistake would not cost him anything and that he would not get caught. To make matters worse, he was driving without insurance. (Guess who got called to pay for the damages to my rental car? You’re reading his book right now.)

This little adventure illustrates an important point about Generation iY.

This was a smart young man who did a monumentally dumb thing. How could this happen?

I think I know part of the answer. It has to do with how children mature in general…and how Generation iY postpones the process.

As children grow, they typically mature in four areas:

  • Biological: They experience puberty; their bodies change and develop physically. If they are male, their voices change. Male or female, they grow hair in new places and morph into an adult body type.
  • Cognitive: They mature intellectually; their intelligence moves from concrete thinking to abstract thinking. Their ability to comprehend things conceptually increases.
  • Social: They begin viewing relationships differently and value them for new reasons. They process interactions with others in reality instead of fantasy or possibility.
  • Emotional: Their view of “self” changes as well as their capacity to function independently. They become stable and their self-awareness increases.

My research on these four areas of maturity reveals some very clear conclusions when it comes to Generation iY.  

First, most young people today are advanced biologically. They are growing upphysically faster than ever. Puberty hits both boys and girls one to two years earlier than it hit teens thirty years ago.In addition, young people are advanced cognitively.

By this I simply mean they’ve consumed more data than ever. They go to school early and are exposed to huge amounts of information at relatively young ages. Most can handle multiple messages rapidly and assimilate visual information more quickly than adults.

Third, they are advanced socially. Many have dozens of friends they connectwith in person at school, then hundreds of friends they connect with via the Internet.

As I stated earlier, when it comes to social interaction—they multitask.  When it comes to emotional maturity, however, this generation is not nearly so advanced. In fact, our studies show they are behind previous generations in this area.

A signi?cant percentage is what I would call emotionally backward.This is part of the reason social scientists are based with the Generation iY Jekyll and Hyde tendencies.

They’re ahead of schedule in so many categories, yet behind in others.

As sociology professor Anthony Campolo once told me: “I don’t believe we live in a generation of bad kids. I believe we live in a generation of kids who know too much too soon.” This is yet another paradox of Generation iY.

USA Today reports that nearly six in ten moms say children are “growing up too fast” because parents:

  • Allow Internet use without supervision (75 percent)
  • Dress kids in age-inappropriate clothing (74 percent)
  • Over schedule kids’ lives (63 percent)
  • Give kids cell phones (59 percent).

At the same time, while these factors may be enabling (or pushing!) Generation iY kids to grow up too fast intellectually or socially, I believe they are retarding their emotional growth.

Accessing technology and going to school at three or four years old may have stimulated their brains, but people are not merely walking brains.

We are whole people—with emotions, spirits, and souls.

It is clear to me that Generation iY is growing up lopsided—heavy on one side, light on the other, advanced insome areas (intellect), pitifully behind in others (emotional maturity).

Sometimes a student is highly gifted in an area and we mistake that for maturity. Let me say the obvious. There is no correlation between giftedness and maturity.

This article is an excerpt from parenting expert and author, Dr. Tim Elmore and his book Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future

Dr. Tim Elmore

Dr. Tim Elmore is an author, speaker and generational leadership expert with more than 30 years of experience working with parents and students.

He is the President of Growing Leaders, a non-profit organization that addresses the challenges of understanding and mentoring the younger generation.

Dr. Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders, an international organization created to teach parents, educators and youth workers how to mentor Generation Y into tomorrow’s leaders.

Dr. Elmore is the official parenting expert for HowToLearn.com

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