reb•e•lu•tion (reb’el lu shen) n. a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.


Pursuing The Inevitable

In response to Brett’s recent post, Guess What? Adolescence Is Permanent, one of our readers, Allegra, made the following comment:

I find what you guys said scary. I myself am still a younger teenager, but I dread growing up. For some reason, I have it in my head that growing up is one of the worst things that can happen to someone. This idea
probably comes from observing kids my age or just a little older who are maturing, but don't have time to play with the smaller kids and less grown-up teens. Doesn't growing up involve keeping your sense of humor, playing with little kids, but just getting more responsibility and learning how to deal with it effectively?
First of all, thank you for your comment, Allegra. We greatly appreciate all of our readers’ input. You have correctly identified a common negative tendency among adults. That is, their seeming inability to reach out to others, especially those younger than they are. However, this is not a result of growing up, but rather, a result of growing up the wrong way.

The reason that growing up can be so scary is because it’s inevitable. Every 365 days, we’re older by a year. However, what we need to remember is that growing up is also completely natural and good. It does require preparation, but that’s exactly what the childhood and teen years are for. The habits, personality, and character we choose to develop during this phase of our life, decide what kind of adults we become. We can’t keep from growing up, but we can choose what kind of grown up we will be.

Therefore, the solution is not to avoid responsibility and maturity (just look at the adultescents), but to start developing it now. You don’t learn to effectively deal with added responsibility by avoiding it, but by becoming accustomed to it, bit by bit. It’s like working out. When you first go to the gym, you never go straight to the heaviest weights you can find. You wouldn’t be able to lift them, let alone control them. Instead, you start small and work your way up.

In the same way, if you want to be able to deal with responsibility when you grow up, you must start building up your “muscles” right now. One reason many grown ups lose their sense of humor and their ability to spend time interacting with young people, is because they’re overwhelmed when responsibility comes. They failed to adequately prepare themselves when they were younger, and now all their attention is focused on trying to manage this “weight” that is far too heavy for their untrained arms. The problem is not that they grew up, but that they weren’t ready for it. And when they aren’t ready, important things are inevitably neglected.

So what are ways that we can work up to the responsibilities of adulthood?

1.) Learn to manage your current responsibilities. Do you let stress in one area of life spill over into your interaction with younger siblings and family members? If you can’t keep your sense of humor and interest in others during the stresses of homework, don’t expect to be able to when the stresses of college, marriage, career, and family weigh on your shoulders. He who would be faithful in much, must first prove himself faithful in little. Learn and practice good time management skills to allow time for the truly important things. Cut back on activities and pastimes that isolate you and absorb large amounts of time but accomplish little. Things like TV, surfing the web, reading magazines, watching movies, etc… Remember that God does not give us conflicting responsibilities.

2.) Choose your companions wisely. Spend time with the type of grown ups you would like to become. Surround yourselves with friends who understand the importance of learning responsibility at an early age and encourage one another in your pursuit of maturity. Remember that your companions are not limited to people.

3.) Pursue progressively greater responsibilities. In a society where responsibility is not expected, young people are rarely given the opportunity to develop the maturity necessary to become a responsible adult. Discipline yourself to pursue and accept progressively greater responsibility. This is the way we grow.

Growing up spoils childhood, only if childhood is misunderstood. If childhood is about having everything you could possibly want, with no responsibility, the result is adultescents, who avoid “growing up” at all costs. But if childhood is about preparation, as it has historically been defined, the result is great men and women who define adulthood as it should be defined: As the fulfillment of childhood. With such an understanding, growing up is not to be avoided, but pursued.