I think that in this world, there are many people who have never really grown up. I write, of course, from the perspective of someone living in the US so my view may be skewed. I see many folks every day who have adult roles and have adult bodies yet still apparently feel, think and act pretty much as they did when they were in high school. I’m not saying they are bad people, in fact many of them are very nice, intelligent, and fun to be around. However, I’ve noticed that I have some traits of a superannuated child. That really bothers me so I’m trying to overcome them and become a true adult.
Modern child psychology claims that a brain doesn’t fully form until you are at least 25 years old. One person I talked to recently said 35. My own study and observation tells me that this can be altered with training and practice. For example, think of the adult roles children were expected to take on even less than a century ago. Think of farm kids taking care of animals or raising their siblings, city kids running small businesses like landscaping or paper delivery. Think back even further to pioneer kids who might run a household at 15, or young boys who might go off to war or a sailing ship at 13 or 14. Those were not easy times, they were full of hardships. Yet those young people had practice with ever increasing levels or responsibility, from their first chores at the age of five or so, all the way up through full adulthood.
In comparison, look at the kids of today, especially in the United States. Many don’t have much in the way of chores to do, many don’t work a job till high school or later. In certain parts of the US, giving your kids chores can get you reported to Child Protective Services! Then they are expected to take full adult responsibility at eighteen. There is little or no ‘ramp’ up to train them how to be adults. The poor dears are floundering with no idea what to do. Is it any wonder these kids are “undeveloped” and often fall flat on their faces, moving back in with their parents, or never leaving?
I moved out at eighteen. I’d had a couple of jobs and I’d done chores as a kid, so I had some idea of handling money. But I still made some pretty monumental mistakes. And in this modern world, that seems to discourage even adults from making informed decisions, I am moving toward a true adulthood. The road to adulthood is embracing personal responsibility. That one issue, in particular, is a sticking point, as we are trained out of taking it. “It’s not my fault!” is the oft repeated refrain. So I’m looking at my weak points, correcting those, and using the example of famous adults from history to motivate me. I’m practicing the fine art of self restraint and delaying self gratification. That in particular is rather difficult. But I’m trying, because it’s important to do that.
Can you think of ways we could better guide our kids towards a full and flourishing adulthood?