Development theories are many. Many of them acknowledge the influence of the social community that surrounds the individual and the large role the community plays in the development of the individual. But those interactions between the individual and the society must be between the individual and experts, adults, people who are further developed than the individual. If the individual is only interacting with others at their own developmental level, they will not progress. They will hold each other more or less in that area and not help each other move forward.
There are also issues now about how we are delaying the entrance into adulthood by our youth through a variety of situations. While we legally say you are an adult at the age of 18, college and other issues are delaying the change from childhood to adulthood. I think that is part of why I think it is cool to be 30 now. There is no doubt that I am not a kid any more. At this point I am definitely a grown up. Yet why is there such a large gap (12 years) between being a legal adult and feeling as if people have no choice but to accept me as an adult now?
I think that part of the delay is the desire to protect people from their own mistakes and struggles. We hold people back from full maturity in an effort to keep them from hurting. But by doing that we are denying them the opportunity to grow from those mistakes and struggles, to take responsibility for what they are doing and own up to their actions. Prolonging childhood and delaying the entrance into the adult world well into the 20s does not benefit the person, and it hinders society as well. We need responsible, mature adults, not irresponsible, immature not-quite adults.
For 5+ years I was part of a group of people that ranged in age from around 20-35, with one or two outliers on both sides of the curve. These people were generally students or had just finished college and were just getting started in the “real world.” The group set up forced the members to take responsibility for themselves. There were no older adults there to take ultimate control and act as a surrogate parent so that the members could continue to play and goof-off well into their late 20s. If the members of the group did not do it, it did not happen. They had to make their own choices about what was right and what was not acceptable without having someone standing over them to guide them.
Now I find myself part of a similar group with a similar age range. The age might be more 18-30 now, with a few outliers on the top of the curve. However, the age is pretty much the same. These people are also generally students and just starting out in the “real world.” Yet the similarities between the two groups end there. This group has those surrogate parent figures standing over them taking responsibility and making all the tough decisions. Therefore, they continue to play and goof-off and appear not to accept responsibility for what they are doing. It is not the real world for them. It is just pretend. This group, rather than help propel the members into adulthood, is delaying their maturation and full inclusion in to the adult world. At a stage in life when they need to finally be stretching their wings and falling at times and realizing the consequences that can come from their decisions, both good and bad, they are being cushioned and allowed to continue acting as teenagers well into their late 20s. The group, rather than providing a service and helping these people, is providing a great disservice.
At least they provide an interesting venue to study human nature.