I've been sent the NYT article on 20-somethings twice:
I wonder (and this is the child-of-immigrants-who-think-Americans-are-a-little-nuts talking) if by categorizing something, you normalize it. I've long had this objection to parts of psychiatry, but it also applies to adolescents - when you explain away bad or immature behavior by "they're adolescents", they never are forced to stop being adolescents and when they hit their 20s they're less mature and less ready for adulthood. There's obviously a balance to be struck (itd be wholly inappropriate to hold 14 year olds to adult standards because they're "not kids anymore") but i wonder if we created a new category of 20-somethings in which it becomes societally ok to not be adult, in a couple generations, how would the 30-year olds' generation change?
Of course, there's more to life than becoming part of "the system", so if twenty-somethings are happier exploring and not being adult, then to each their own - no need to be judging one another.
I told this to my brother, and his response was interesting, too. I quote: "There's also a drive in America with the whole "self-esteem" movement that's relatively unique to our country. Most first world countries no longer beat children in public schools, but only in America are bullies sent to the guidance counselor to talk about feelings, eat candy, and feel better about themselves. And unfortunately, this constant bombardment of "you are special, you are unique, you can do anything" is actually remarkably counterproductive; it doesn't prepare us for the hardships and failures that come with simply being alive. In the "real world," not everybody is a winner, and you don't automatically get a trophy. Furthermore, the link between low self-esteem and failure in life is pretty much nonexistent. Kids in general have more self-esteem than anybody else ever; they think they can be an astronaut, rock star, and president and still make it home for dinner with the spouse and kids. If we're not being trained to deal with hardship earlier on, we're not going to be able to deal with it later on, and thus may prefer living under the shelter of mom and dad. (I refer you to Towards a State of Esteem, published by the California Self-Esteem Task Force in 1990 for the exact data and numbers - and if any state is likely to believe self-esteem is the be-all-end-all of societal woes, it's California, and even their evidence refuted it)."