20 October, 2020

Is 13 The New 18?

The sexual, emotional precocity of 13-year-olds are contrapuntal to life's insistent demands

Illustration by Sorit
Is 13 The New 18?
Thirteen has always been a difficult age. It is when the wide-eyed, sweet, innocent child you have nurtured begins to morph into the grumbling, monosyllabic, self-obsessed creature emerging from his or her room only when summoned (if you're lucky), or for food.

The dilemma of the 13-year-old—how to rebel and conform at the same time—has been ingeniously solved by modern teenagers: they ignore their parents, and copy one another. As someone who has seen successive waves of thirteen-year-olds, I have observed other ways in which they have changed and evolved. I am struck by how much more grown up 13-year-olds are now than their counterparts 13 years ago, who in comparison look like children out of Enid Blyton. Today, by 13, the average teenager inhabits a different universe, with sexuality, language, fashions, social interactions and ideas different from the ones his parents grew up with.

Today's 13-year-olds have a sexual awareness far beyond that of past generations. Those who have grown up with the TV series Friends,...


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