Why did the teenager NOT cross the road? Darned if I know.

teen brain cartoonSomehow I didn’t get the memo about random synaptic events and inexplicable decisions when it came to being a dad. That’s all I can conclude.

Worse, I was at a lecture not a week ago when someone was talking about how our brains are still forming primary neural pathways in adolescence. According to a really interesting article from the National Institutes of Health:

… [a youth’s] brain does not begin to resemble that of an adult until the early 20s.

The scans also suggest that different parts of the cortex mature at different rates. Areas involved in more basic functions mature first: those involved, for example, in the processing of information from the senses, and in controlling movement. The parts of the brain responsible for more “top-down” control, controlling impulses, and planning ahead—the hallmarks of adult behavior—are among the last to mature.

Yeah, I get it. Until the early 20s our brains are works in progress. And after that, they just start to decay. Yay humans.

Seriously, who designed this??

The latest example of this is something I just experienced with my 17yo, A-. She has a standing 9am appointment and the way that the morning worked out we got there 30min early. Across the street is a nice coffee shop, Amante Baseline, where I sit and work while she’s busy.

No worries, I figure, we can both go to Amante and she can enjoy a warm cup of tea on a cold (23F!) morning, then walk across the street when it’s time for her appointment.

Except she refused to cross the road.

I mean, adamantly insisted she wouldn’t walk across the street, wanting me to drive her when it was time for her appointment.

And it wasn’t about the cold, because when I asked for a reason she explained “people just don’t stop at the crosswalk”.

Really? At 17 she can’t cross a street? Sheesh.

So I dropped her off 30min early and she said she’d just sit and read a magazine, though I’m sure she’s on Instagram at this very moment instead.

Most inexplicable. I’m chalking it up to this brain development thing. Because otherwise I’ll just.






2 comments on “Why did the teenager NOT cross the road? Darned if I know.

  1. What’s amazing about this brain research is that, years ago, people started their adult lives at a younger age. Got married. Had kids. Began their careers. Now, it’s more common to see young adults delay some of these steps until their mid- to late 20s … or even longer.

    So are we wise to do so, or did tackling heavy commitments earlier in life kick-start the brain’s maturation process?

  2. So this past year, my 17yo took a psych 101 class in high school, and guess what they studied? The teenage brain and how it has not developed the ability to anticipate consequences or plan or do much of anything useful. Hmmm, this opens the door to discussions about the future and how he should listen to me, right? Wrong. He projects a negative image about the future based on no data and shuts me down when I try to start a discussion. You think referring to his psych 101 class helps? Nope, dream on.

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