The key to the entire article is this statement: "But child development experts say that physical and behavioral changes that would have been typical of teenagers decades ago are now common among "tweens" - kids ages 8 to 12." If one is to really dig into the assumptions in this article, it is important to link the title of the article with this statement and notice that behavior that used to be "typical of teenagers decades ago" is how the author defines the idea of growing up faster. Let me restate: the author reveals a belief that if a 10-year-old displays behaviors commonly associated with teens, that child is "growing up."
What does it mean to grow up? This is the real question the author should be asking. Can acting like a 15-year-old at 10 really be indicative of growing up? Or is it actually revealing something sinister, like early loss of innocence, or increase of rebelliousness toward God and parents? Growing up seems like such a positive term. There is a reason why I used the phrase "premature rotting" in my title.
Let me delineate the "grown up" behaviors these children are reported in the article to display:
- want an iPod
- go on "dates"
- talk on their own cell phones
- listen to sexually charged pop music
- play mature-rated video games
- spend time gossiping on MySpace
- girls wear makeup and clothing that some consider beyond their years
- are annoyed by their parents
Mr. Webster also defined "mature" in a way that would delight a parent rather than frighten them. As a noun, the word means "ripe; perfected by time or natural growth" or "completed; prepared; ready." As a verb, it means "to ripen or advance toward ripeness," or "to advance toward perfection."
In Ephesians 4:13, mature manhood is contrasted with being tossed about on the waves and winds of doctrine. There is a certain knowledge and conviction of the truth implied. Hebrews 5:14 links maturity with discerning between good and evil. Luke 8:14, appearing in the midst of the parable of the soils, explains that the seed that is sown among thorns is choked by the cares of this world, making maturity impossible.
In looking at the article, I would say that what is being observed is not growth, but decay. It is not a sign of fruit maturing early, but rather of fruit rotting before the time that society accepts. This society has become accustomed to watching teens careen toward corruption and degeneration to the point that, though it may not be explicitly embraced, is passively accepted as some sort of "stage" that one hopes they grow out of. What is disturbing is seeing a baby-faced 10-year-old act this way. The experts cry, "Too soon!" when they should be telling parents that it never has to be this way, and never should be accepted.
Toward the end of the article, a parent is quoted as saying, "Beyonce singing about bouncing her butt all over the place is a little much - at least for an 8-year-old." This is what I am talking about. The notion that at some point singing about such things might be appropriate.
One must be very cautious, for the days certainly are evil. In fact, they are so evil that evil is called by other names: "grown up," "for the mature," etc. But while evil is cultivated in the soul, there is no chance for true maturity.