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I was reading an article about growing of age and I just read this sentence,

This creates a very scary letting go for parents, who must accept that they cannot keep their teenager free of more worldly dangers that are associated with the worldly experience he or she is wanting.

Parenting Adolescents and the Problems of Letting Go, Psychology Today, April 23, 2012

And I can't really understand the meaning of worldly experience/(dangers). Can someone explain this to me?

Presumably any experience that one could have has something to do with the world, but here it is obvious that the authors have in mind some specific kind of experiences. Why would the authors choose to call these specific experiences worldly, in contrast to some other experiences, which are also worldly in the literal sense?

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    @SQB TXS...edit done, ...but I still think it goes to sex and drugs.
    – Cascabel
    Jul 20 at 17:09
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    @Cascabel indeed it does. I don't fully agree with the article in that respect. While there are dangers associated with the examples they name, I wouldn't call them dangers in and of themselves. But that would be a question for Parenting.
    – SQB
    Jul 20 at 17:15
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Assuming it's the april 2012 article "Parenting Adolescents and the Problems of Letting Go" in Psychology Today, the meaning here is "(of) the world".

Here's the entire paragraph from the article.

During the third stage of adolescence, late adolescence (ages 15 – 18) there is the letting go of younger restrictions as some older freedoms (driving, dating, and part time employment, for example) are allowed by parents and others, not necessarily parent approved, that are encouraged by peers (substance use, sex, and adventurous risk taking, for example). This creates a very scary letting go for parents who must accept that they cannot keep their teenager free of more worldly dangers that are associated with the worldly experience he or she is wanting. The loss of parental protection that was provided by older restrictions may be partly supplanted by adequately preparing the high school teenager to understand and manage new risks that come with acting more grown up. Parents have a duty to inform.

So according to the article, adolescents will want to experience the world and to partake in the world's freedoms, but that opens them up to the dangers of the world. The examples of "worldly experiences" used in the article are driving, dating, part time employment, but also substance use, sex, and adventurous risk taking. These experiences come with associated dangers.

As the penultimate line reads,

The loss of parental protection that was provided by older restrictions may be partly supplanted by adequately preparing the high school teenager to understand and manage new risks that come with acting more grown up.

So the article assumes children to live a more protected life up to then, so it's the world in contrast with sheltered family life.


This is not how worldly is usually used.

Merriam Webster defines it as

1: of, relating to, or devoted to this world and its pursuits rather than to religion or spiritual affairs

The article however does not mention religion or spiritual affairs, so the contrast used here is different. Whether that was clumsy writing, or a deliberate choice by the author to evoke the regular meaning, remains speculation.

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    But "of the world" as opposed to what? It's not as if these parents are struggling with the decision to let their children visit planet Earth, having raised them somewhere else entirely. Jul 20 at 22:47
  • @BrianDonovan better?
    – SQB
    Jul 21 at 5:40
  • This may well be what the authors intended, but to fully resolve the OP's sense of puzzlement, it should be added that, if that's what the authors meant, then their use of the word was rather clumsy and not to be imitated.
    – jsw29
    Jul 21 at 15:33
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The word worldly, adj. in this context is defined as:

Of or belonging to the secular (as distinguished from the religious) world; secular; OED definition #3

Some people believe in more than just this material world. In fact, most people through history have believed in God or a god and the spiritual aspects to life. Only through a rejection of what their consciences are telling them (i.e. that there is a God and that He has other-worldly power) do people become blind to the spiritual aspects of life. Many people are like the parent described in this article that care about their children's spiritual health.

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    I have a hard time believing that a writer for Psychology Today is promoting or reviving medieval Christian antipathy to "the world, the flesh, and the devil." Jul 20 at 22:40

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