An integrated life

The Myth of Adolescence

About ten years ago, I had the privilege of seeing David Black speak about the “The Myth of Adolescence” at the North Carolinians for Home Education conference. It wasn’t the first time that I had been challenged about the modern concept that there was something between childhood and adulthood. According to God’s design, there are children and there are adults. I was already apprenticing young men, but was challenged as to why I should wait until young men were 18 or so to begin the apprenticeship process.

In fact, if adulthood starts at puberty, why shouldn’t they start working/apprenticing around the same time? Well, for one, they haven’t been trained for it. That wasn’t always the case. John Quincy Adams was an ambassador to Russia at age 15. Marquis de Lafayette was commanding ships when he was 14 and was already a seasoned military man. What’s missing in the preparation of our young people today?

I made the leap that training in important skills needed to start earlier than adulthood. So, when my son Caleb was six or so, I started looking for ways to train him in useful skills and some other men I was associated with started a “Knights of Christ’s Table” club where men and their sons would get together to train up their sons in a variety of character qualities and skills. We did a variety of unusual things, but eventually several of us decided to put together a group of young men to form a FIRST Lego League team. We not only taught them some programming and research skills, but also how to work as a team, agile project management, and a lot of biblical principles.

Fast forward a few years, and some of the Lego League boys are now young men. My son, Caleb, is 14 and has picked up some graphic design skills over the past few years and is apprenticing as a web designer in our studio. Zachary, also 14, has been apprenticing as a programmer. And we recently added Bruce Ricketts as an apprentice…

In addition to the Lego League training, Bruce has had some programming training from one of our apprentices (Austin Taylor), and then an apprentice (Steve Iannopollo) of an apprentice (Adam Williams). So, recently when a potential client came to us with an idea for an iPhone app, we decided to see if Bruce could do the majority of the work with some oversight from Steve and some graphic help from Caleb. It turned out great.

Somehow, the local News & Observer picked up on what Bruce has been doing.

We’ve got another project for a client starting up that is going to have apprentices of 14 years of age working on it with supervision of more experienced developers. They’ve still got a lot more to learn, and are only putting around twelve hours a week into the project while they are still learning a lot of things, both academically and practically, but they are young men and are capable of doing more than the world thinks they should be. Each one started preparing for this while they were still children and had parents who encouraged them. They look at this as part of their maturing as young men… and they jump around on the trampoline at lunch time like you would expect young men with a lot of energy to do.

Are these amazing young men? Well, I think they are all very special, but I also realize that they are normal and a testimony to what happens when people recognize that God designed us to go from childhood to adulthood with a vision for how to help them make the transition.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (1 Cor 13:11 – NASB)

Man has created the concept of adolescence. God designed boys to become young men and girls to become young women. Man’s wisdom has determined that children should get 12, 16, or more years of education in classrooms and campuses surrounded by peers. God’s wisdom says

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deut 6:7 – NASB)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4 – NASB)

The sound doctrine of the Lord has led me to attempt to live an integrated life which includes older men teaching younger men and older women teaching younger women as pointed out in Titus 2. The world has come up with their system that segregates younger people from older people, putting fools (of the same age) with fools in an environment where God is kept out of the equation. An integrated life was the norm 150 years ago in this country… young people learned how to work by their parents’ sides while they were young. They were trained in the Scriptures. Once they got established, they generally got married and stayed married. No, it wasn’t perfect. There were still sinners. Not everyone built their life on God’s words. But, society was built on the basic foundations laid out in God’s Word.

In the last 150 years, God’s Word has been pushed out. How has the world’s plan worked out?

When the Apostle Paul was spreading the gospel, planting churches, and attempting to fulfill the great commission, making disciples of all nations, he was going into a world built on man’s ideas. He said,

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5 – NASB)

Time to do it again.

The myth of adolescence is a lofty speculation of man raised up against the knowledge of God. As for me and my house, we are going to raise young men and young women in the fear and admonition of the Lord. No adolescents allowed.