At what age would you say 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, says adulthood isn’t a moment in time as much as a process of growth he calls “Progressive Emancipation.”

He encourages parents to think of their teenagers as adults in training. Teens, he says, are not big children; they are young adults. Around age 13, childhood comes to its natural end, but that doesn’t mean that your job as a parent is over. It shifts from teaching to training.

Dr. Wilgus describes progressive emancipation as parents “marshaling an orderly retreat out of your teenagers’ lives.” That means deliberately working your way out of your parental responsibilities by the time your child 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 who have never practiced thinking it. They need to be ready, and we need to prepare them.

On our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Parenting Teens Toward Adulthood,” we’re listening to a recorded talk by Dr. Ken Wilgus. 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.

This program is part of our “Best of” programs for 2022, airing throughout the month of December. Tune in on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app.

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.

Dr. Ken Wilgus’ book Feeding the Mouth That Bites You: A Complete Guide to Parenting Adolescents and Launching Them into the World is available for a gift of any amount. And when you help Focus on the Family today with a gift, your donation will be DOUBLED for twice the impact in helping others through this ministry. Our thanks to generous donors who’ve made that possible. For more information, click here. Or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

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