The Christian Science Monitor

Becoming an adult: Why more adolescents now say ‘Don’t rush me’

Amy Zhang (c.), a senior at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va, runs an editorial meeting for a student-run art/fashion/photography magazine called Rocket. Source: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

Amy Zhang, age 21, knows her parents would like her to get her driver’s license. They’ve been on her about it for some years now. And while the college senior from Vienna, Va., readily admits that she could get it, she just hasn’t gotten around to it yet, what with coursework and extracurriculars and internships taking up most of her time. 

“I do plan on getting my license,” she says. “I’ve been planning on getting it so long that it’s funny.”

Anyhow, Ms. Zhang says, she has never really needed it. She goes to school at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., where she walks to everything. When she is back home in the suburbs she is happy to get rides from her mom, her older sister, or maybe one of her friends. 

And there is something else, Zhang says. A driver’s license always struck her as a symbol that she was growing up – and not necessarily in a good way. 

“It was a departure from childhood,” she says. “You want to have independence and want to be an adult. But at the same time I didn’t want to leave my childhood behind, or feel that I was leaving my family behind.”

Zhang’s perspective – a near flip from that in the 1980s when acquiring a driver’s license was seen as a marker of freedom so compelling it formed the central plot of many a Brat Pack film – is increasingly common. More than a quarter of teenagers today don’t get their license before graduating high school. For those who do, the reasoning often has to do with “making things easier on Mom,” or “my parents pushed me to get it,” rather than a craving for independence, dating, or adult-free social engagements. 

Indeed, none of those activities seem to particularly interest the generation dubbed iGen, or

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