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Grow up

Grow up


I see far too many teens, college students, even young professionals, who are still so immature. Not only are they unable to do the simple tasks of being an adult (cooking their food, balancing their finances, and so on), but they constantly expect others to do everything for them.

For example, a 22-year old I know recently moved out on her own for the first time. When we showed up at her dorm room to load the van, there wasn’t one, because she didn’t know how to book one and assumed that her mother would do it her. Not only that, but none of her things were packed – not a single box – which she blamed on her mother for not coming over to do it. Far from calling her on this behaviour, the mother set about packing for her while the daughter went out to buy beer for the moving crew.

I see this again and again – kids who have never grown up because their parents (and everyone else for that matter) have been content to let them be children. Their whole culture has said, “Well, they’re just kids,” even as they got driver’s licences, college degrees, working jobs, and families. It’s to the point where I recently heard someone defend a friend’s immature behaviour by saying, “But he’s still young,” when the friend in question was 37- years old, divorced, with a salary in six figures.

This kind of attitude, though thankfully not to such extremes, permeates our culture so much that parents who try to resist it will face strong criticism.  I sent my 10-year-old son to pick up his own glasses the other day, a walk of three blocks in broad daylight through one of the safest neighbourhoods in the world.  When I told this to one of my clients, she was shocked and angry, suggesting that my action bordered on neglect.

When I had the same son call the repair shop about his broken computer, encouraging him to take ownership of his own problem, the technician refused to speak to him.  Even when I told him that my son had permission to have the computer fixed and that I would be covering the cost, he recommended that I find someone else, which I did.

Despite these criticisms, however, it’s so very necessary that we stop treating children as if they’re useless, stop enabling their immaturity into adulthood. A 10-year old should easily be capable of walking three blocks to pick up glasses. A seven-year old should easily be capable of buying a supper ingredient from the corner store.  An 18-year old should easily be capable of getting to school and work without nagging from a parent. I’ve been criticized for assuming these things of the people in my household, but they’re true nonetheless.

We as parents need to encourage our kids to take responsibility in the ways they are able. Give them tasks that suit their abilities. Have them take ownership of problems that they can handle. Treat them as if they are maturing human beings rather than perpetual children. If we don’t, we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re still booking their moving vans at 22 and making excuses for their juvenile behaviour at 37.

Luke Hill is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged 10, seven, and three.  He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university.  He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.