Exhumator Esoterics

Encyclopedia of Spiritual — Letter P - POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

Exhumator Esoterics
Exhumator Esoterics

Through civic engagement, then, thriving youth enter onto a life path marked by what are termed the Five Cs of positive youth development, that is, character, competence, confidence, connection, and caring (or compassion). Such youth will pursue the noble purpose of becoming a productive adult member of their community (Damon, Menon, & Bronk, 2003), a person contributing positively to self, others, and the institutions of civil society. In other words, such youth will develop the "Sixth C" of contribution-to self, family, community, and ultimately, civil society. A commitment to contribution rests on defining behavior in support of mutually beneficial individual context exchanges as morally necessary. Individuals' moral duty to contribute exists because, as citizens receiving benefits from a social system supporting their individual functioning, it is necessary to be actively engaged in maintaining and, ideally, enhancing that social system (Youniss, McLellan, & Yates, 1999).

This type of developmental regulation-between thriving individuals and their civil society-is the essence of a system marked by liberty (Lerner, 2004). Figure 1 provides an illustration of the model of thriving that we have developed (e.g., Lerner, 2004). In short, adaptive developmental regulation results in the emergence among young people of an orientation to transcend self-interest and place value on, and commitments to, actions supportive of a social system promoting equity, democracy, social justice, and personal freedoms. The integration of individual and ecological assets (Benson, 2003) through adaptive developmental regulation provides the developmental "nutrients" (resources) requisite for thriving. We hypothesize that spirituality is the emotional "fuel" energizing the thriving process.


The sense of transcendence of self and of zerosum- game self-interest that accrues as integrated moral and civic self-definitions (identities) develop may be interpreted as a growing spiritual sense (Benson, 2003; Dowling, Gestsdottir, Anderson, von Eye, & Lerner, 2003; Dowling et al., 2004). Erikson (1959) discussed the emotional "virtues" that were coupled with successful resolution of each of the eight psychosocial crises he included in his theory of ego development. He specified that fidelity, defined as unflagging commitment to abstract ideas (e.g., ideologies) beyond the self, was the virtue associated with adaptive resolution of the identity crisis of adolescence, and thus with the attainment of a socially prescribed, positive role (cf. Youniss and Yates, 1999). Commitment to a role was regarded by Erikson (1959) as a means for the behaviors of youth to serve the maintenance and perpetuation of society; fidelity to an ideology coupled with a role meant that the young person would gain emotional satisfaction-which, to Erikson (1959) meant enhanced self-esteem-through contributing to society by the enactment of role behaviors (Lerner, 2002).

One need not focus only on crisis resolution to suggest that behaviors attained during adolescence in the service of identity development may be coupled with an ideological "virtue," that is, with a sensibility about the meaningfulness of abstract ideas that transcend the self (Youniss & Yates, 1999). From a perspective that focuses on adaptive developmental regulation within the developmental system, it is possible to suggest that spirituality is the transcendent virtue that is coupled with the behaviors (roles) reflecting an integrated moral and civic identity.

Contemporary researchers (e.g.,Youniss and Yates, 1999) show increasing interest in addressing the impact of community contributions and service activities on healthy identity development. Erikson (1959) proposed that, when young people identify with ideologies and histories of faith-based institutions, identities can be placed within a social-historical framework that connect youth to traditions and communities that transcend the immediate moment, thereby providing young people with a sense of continuity and coherence with the past, present, and future.

Consistent with Erikson's prescription, youth-service programs sponsored by faith-based institutions such as the Catholic Church are embedded in interpretive values and historical meaning. For example, a parish that sponsors a highway cleanup activity for its youth will likely rely upon a moral and value-laden framework to explain its involvement, describing that involvement in religious traditions and stories (Youniss & Yates, 1999). Youth who take part in service activities are likely to "reflect on these justifications as potential meanings for their (own) actions. These established meanings, with their historical richness and picturing of an ideal future may readily be seen as nourishment for youths' identity development" (Youniss & Yates, 1999, p. 244).

Figure 1 Positive Youth DevelopmentEncyclopedia Religious and Spiritual

As such, youth whose exchanges with their contexts (whose developmental regulations) are marked by functionally valued behaviors should develop integrated moral and civic identities and a transcendent, or spiritual, sensibility (Benson, 2003; Youniss & Yates, 1999). There is in fact evidence that adolescents' sense of spirituality is linked to thriving. In two studies that used an archival data set from Search Institute (1984), entitled "Young Adolescents and their Parents" (YAP) data set, Dowling et al. (2003, 2004) studied the links among spirituality, religiosity, and thriving among a subsample of 1,000 adolescents randomly selected from among the larger cross-sectional group of 8,165 youth, ranging from fifth through ninth grades, present within the YAP.

This research used Reich, Oser, and Scarlett's (1999) conceptualization of spirituality and of religiosity. In Reich et al.'s view, spirituality is the commitment to ideas or institutions that transcend the self in time and place, that is, as viewing life in new and better ways, adopting some conception as transcendent or of great value, and defining one's self and one's relation to others in a manner that goes beyond provincialism or materialism to express authentic concerns about others. In turn, the subordination of self to institutions that are believed to have relations to the divine is the essence of religiosity, which Reich et al. (1999) operationalize as involving a relationship with a particular institutionalized doctrine about a supernatural power, a relationship that occurs through affiliation with an organized faith and participation in its prescribed rituals. Finally, thriving was conceptualized through the use of the terms that, as noted above, are involved in the new, positive conceptualization of adolescence.