As I read The Great Divide on The Exponent, many memories of young single adult (YSA) wards came to mind. I found the YSA wards to be a social melting pot ripe with opportunities to attend fun events, to make sporting connections, and, of course, to meet girls to date. These were all great benefits of the ward, but at what cost did they come? Jess R. rattles off many costs. I’d argue there’s one more that’s the Big One.
I’m no behavioral psychologist, but I understand certain aspects of human behavior. For example, it’s not hard to imagine what happens when you put a group of teenagers in a room with no supervision. On the flip side, it’s equally as easy to predict what happens if you mix in one adult for five teenagers, then one adult for every teenager, then five adults for every teenager. Behavior changes with the pH balance of maturity and youth.
Peter Pan Syndrome is a term usually tagged to Mormon young men who “refuse to grow up.” In Mormon lingo, growing up means getting married. [[Begin tangent: this association of marriage and maturity is evidenced not only the rejection and labeling of young men as Peter Pan but also in young women who, like in Jess R.’s situation, get asked awkward and inappropriate questions. This pressure to marry, mission, or get initiated in the temple seem to thrust young adults into a narrative they may not want but then feel obligated to fulfill because of their covenants with God, familial pressure, and spousal expectations. This pressure begins when parents force their children to get baptized at the age of video games and barbies instead of waiting for the person to develop and decide for themselves if that is the right step. Initiating vulnerable children and young adults on pressures them into living a life they may not want to live. End tangent]]
I would argue the Church is responsible for Peter Pan Syndrome, or, to be fair to the ladies, Single Segregation Syndrome. By segregating the YSA, we buy them a one-way ticket to Never Never Land to live among the Lost Boys. Then we blame them when they don’t want to return to real life. YSA need spiritual guides in life, adults to help shape and challenge their view, and instruction that you don’t find at YSA ward.
I call for an end to the YSA wards as we know them, and the the implementations of integrating the youth back in with the adults. Sure, keep YSA activities, Sunday evening firesides, weekly activities, but get them out of Never Never Land and back on Earth.