rebelling against low expectations

Kidults: I Won’t Grow Up!


In response to my recent post, “Kidults: Choosing To Grow Up,” Lauren, one of our faithful readers, posted the following request:

“Today one of my friends and I were talking after school… At one point he said, “What if I don’t want to grow up? What if I want to stay a kid for the rest of my life? I just want to have fun.” Immediately this made me think of what you wrote on this post. I wasn’t quite sure what to say. What is a simple argument for a comment like that?”

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question. A few weeks ago another one of my readers asked me, “Since the people who read your blog probably already agree with you, how are you going to get the message out to people who really need to hear it? How will you convince those who disagree with you?”

In essence, my readers want to know how to respond to someone who has grown up believing the the old Pepsi commercial, “You’re young! Have fun! Drink Pepsi!” How should you respond to someone who just wants to have fun? How do you encourage someone to pursue adult responsibilities when they don’t want to grow up?

Here’s what I’d do if I were confronted with a statement like the one Lauren’s friend made (i.e. “What if I don’t want to grow up? What if I want to stay a kid for the rest of my life? I just want to have fun.”). I’d be thinking: This guy doesn’t share my views about what’s important.

This is a simple observation but a critical one: this guy values “just having fun.” I value responsibility, maturity, and accomplishment. Polar opposites. This means that for me to say “But responsibility is grand!” will have little to no impact on him because his Gameboy is grander.

He’s like a greedy little caterpillar who “just wants to eat,” and doesn’t want to become a butterfly because he wouldn’t be able eat grass and leaves anymore. If he was a customer and I was a salesman, he wouldn’t want my product because he believes that what he has is better. That is the dilemma.

Alex and I will soon be embarking on a new series that will answer the questions: “How did he get this value system?” and “How do we change it?” We’ll talk about how our peers need the opportunity and the social pressure to change, and about how we can provide that opportunity and pressure.

However, in this post I’d like to share with you a simple strategy for getting his attention: 1) convince him that growing up is inevitable, and 2) get him to think about the consequences of not being ready.

You see, at this point he doesn’t think he needs to grow up. He thinks he could happily spend the rest of his life just the way he is. And you won’t convince him to “grow up” until you convince him that he can’t avoid it. This argument is crucial because once he admits that growing up is inevitable he will be forced to ask himself the question, “Will I be ready?”

Well, it sounds good. How do you do it? It’s actually pretty easy. No one can argue with the fact that every 365 days we’re older by a year. Neither can they argue with the fact that someday they will have to support themselves financially (for some people this won’t happen until Mom and Dad are gone, but it will still happen), and that the cost of living is getting higher and higher.

They most likely hope to get married “someday” and will probably agree that a committed relationship requires greater levels of sacrifice and deeper communication than they’re capable of. And, if you push them, they will probably admit that their future bosses and supervisors won’t care how gorgeous they are or what “cool dudes” they’ve become or what great ballplayers they were in high school.

The point you’re trying to make is that even if they feel like little Peter Pans they don’t live in Neverland! They’re going to grow up. Adult responsibilities are going to come. Therefore, the only question is, “Are they going to be ready?”

The reason I share this approach with you is because too often we put the cart before the horse, so to speak. Allow me to use an analogy to explain this:

Imagine that you’ve gone to see the doctor. You get in the office and he sits you down and says, “You need to start taking these large pills twelve times a day in order to avoid getting smallpox.” [Note: For those who don’t know, smallpox is virtually non-existent today.]

You’d probably think he was crazy! Why would you go to all the trouble to swallow those huge pills when there was barely any possibility that you would contract smallpox and when you’d already had your smallpox vaccination? You might politely take the bottle of pills with you when you left, but you definitely wouldn’t take any.

Now, imagine that instead of just telling you to take the pills the doctor told you that smallpox was spreading rapidly all over the world, that even people who were vaccinated were contracting it, and that unless you took these pills twelve times a day it was almost inevitable that you would contract the disease and die.

Guess what you’d do? You’d take the pills! You’d hug the doctor! You’d probably ask him for a Dixie cup and take one that very minute! You’d make sure you received an adequate supply of the pills and you’d faithfully take them every day.

Do you see the difference that occurred once you knew 1) that the disease was coming, and 2) that your vaccination wouldn’t save you?

The same is true when it comes to your friends. Until you can convince them that growing up is inevitable and that what they’re doing now won’t prepare them for it, they won’t see the need to change anything.

In the comment section, please answer one or more of the following questions:

1.) Do you think young people in general have an unrealistic view of how long they can avoid adult responsibility?

2.) Have you ever had a friend talk about “staying young” and “just having fun?” Did you say anything to them about it? If so, what did you say?

3.) Whether its speaking to your friends about the rebelution, evangelizing, etc. have you fallen into the trap of telling people all about the “pills” and failing to adequately explain the nature and danger of the “disease?”

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • 1) Yes.

    2) No. In my group, I may be the most irresponsible one.

    3) Nope. Preaching anyting at all is not my style. If asked how I feel about something, and I have an opinion, I’ll answer, but I’m more likely to sugest they look into it for themselves and give a few suggestions of where to start.

  • Hey Brett,
    Wow thanks…that was really good advice. I know a lot of people who feel the same about “never wanting to grow up”. I will have a good reason to argue them now. Thankyou!
    God belss!

  • Hey, I really like this blog! I just started reading a few days ago, but I agree with a lot that you guys have to say. I’m a homeschooler too. Here are my answers to the 3 questions you asked:

    1) I would say that a lot of people aren’t willing to face responsibility.

    2) I have never had a friend say they wanted to stay young forever. Most of the people I talk to want to grow up to fast!!

    3) I don’t think that I have told people about the ‘pills’ before the ‘disease’, but I will definantly make sure I don’t now!!


  • Hey Brett, I love your example of small pox, and I’m very familiar with that. I prefer though, Ray Comforts analogy of Christianity.

    He says that Christianity is pushed the wrong way, that Jesus will make our lives more ‘Fun’, instead of the fact that we’re guilty sinners, and Jesus will give our lives purpose, to share his word with others. He uses the following analogy:

    You’re on an airplane. As you’re sitting in your seat, you notice the man next to you has a parachute on. You ask him why. He responds, “You should put one on two! It will fill your life with love, joy, peace, happiness, and fun! It’ll be great, and your flight will be better. It’ll make the in flight movie more enjoyable!”

    So, you expirement. You put on the parachute. Unfortunately, you notice the weight of the parachute, and how uncomfortable it makes the flight. You can’t sit up straight, and your squished into an awkward postition so that you have to crane your neck to see the movie. After thirty minutes, your flight is clearly NOT enjoyable, and now, the other passengers see that you have a parachute on, and start laughing at you. One by one, you’re being mocked by fellow passengers on your flight.

    In anger, you rip your Christian faith, your parachute, off your back, and scream ‘The stupid parachute!’ at the top of your lungs, and sit back down, much to the amusement and satisfaction of the other passengers.

    On the other hand, if you’re sitting on that same flight, and you see the man next to you putting on his parachute, and ask him why, what if he were to tell you the truth? That “The captain just gave me a note saying that we’ll be losing our engines in five minutes, and we’ll have to make a 30,000 foot jump. Unless we have our parachutes on, we’ll suffer the consequences of breaking God’s law of gravity, and we’ll die.”

    When he says this, you see the importance of his message. You quickly strap your parachute on. The in flight movie is NO LONGER IMPORTANT to you! Instead, the importance lies on telling the other passengers, who, interestingly enough, are now laughing at you for wearing a parachute. When you inform them of the seriousness of the matter though, they stop their mockery, and quickly put on the parachute as well. Even though you can’t sit comfortably in your chair, it doesn’t matter! Your gratefulness for the parachute rules all else out, and the only thought in your mind is to warn the other passengers of the jump.

    And of course, that analogy applies especially to ‘kidults’.

    When we learn of the jump to come, and the importance of wearing our parachute, we quickly forget the entertainment of this world, the in flight movie, the coke and chips the stewardess is handing out, and even all the luggage you have paid for and attained over the years.

    The only important thing in our minds is to spread the message of sin and death, and salvation through Jesus Christ, to every creature.


  • That last comment didn’t finish, so here it goes again.

    Gameboys, XBox’s, iPods, and Pepsi’s, ALL fade from view, as we hurriedly spread the message of the parachute.

    That took a really long time to type, so I hope this comment makes it through….

    God Bless you guys, and keep up the good work!

  • wow… more homeschoolers…. i used to think that there wasnt many homeschoolers besides me … wow.. i was wrong….thanks for alll the good stuff on here

  • 1.) Do you think young people in general have an unrealistic view of how long they can avoid adult responsibility?

    Umm… Yes. I’m not going to deny it. I do it. All my friends do. But it’s when the moment comes when you realize you’re not “just a kid” anymore. When you realize that you’re growing up. What makes me scared is all the teenagers who are one day going to wake up and realize that they’re in collage, and that they don’t have a clue what to do.

  • I realize this is probably an old blog… but it caught my attention. 🙂

    1.) “Do you think young people in general have an unrealistic view of how long they can avoid adult responsibility?”

    I am totally one of the ones who decided to put off “growing up” until I was an adult. The reason I did this was because I saw ALL the teenagers around me being disrespectful and disobedient, hurtful, forming cliques (and bf/gf relationships), disregarding the Bible, and being proud of how “grown up” and “independant” they were in all of this. I decided if that is what “grown up” meant, I would stay a kid until at least I was 18. So I didn’t hang out with other teens as much. Instead, I worked in Awana (with kids) on youth group nights and taught 1-3ed grade Sunday school instead of going to the high school Sunday school. Is this considered being “grown up”? Not by other teens!!

    Anyway, at least from what I see, teens don’t avoid adult responsiblity. All the teens I know, will jump at the chance to be independant. But what this means for them varies, and gets them in to trouble. For instance, a teen in our youth group just ran away from home. Right now, he is pretty independant, on his own. Does that make him “grown up”? I dont know, but its not positive.

    2.) “Have you ever had a friend talk about ‘staying young’ and ‘just having fun?’ Did you say anything to them about it? If so, what did you say?”

    The differance is very muddled in my mind! I totally think you can have fun with responsiblity!!! Couldnt one “stay young” and yet be responsible and mature? Youth isn’t bad, nor is having fun. I think a person (no mater the age) can do both as well as be responsible and mature.

    3.) “Whether its speaking to your friends about the rebelution, evangelizing, etc. have you fallen into the trap of telling people all about the “pills” and failing to adequately explain the nature and danger of the ‘disease?’ ”

    Nope. I didnt understand that part in the blog either.

  • I had a closing thought to add to my last comment there. While getting older is unpreventable, and changes with that are not optional either, “growing up” is, to me, not nearly as important as simply being who God wants me to be. No mater if I am 40 or 17, there will always be change one way or another! What I personally chose to do with that change simply doesn’t relate so much to being an adult vs. being a kid. Adolescence totally aside, for me, it just has more to do with becoming more like Jesus.
    In Christ,

  • 1.) Do you think young people in general have an unrealistic view of how long they can avoid adult responsibility?

    ~yes, most definitely… especially when “adultescence” is being accepted as ok and something to be accepted in the world…

    2.) Have you ever had a friend talk about “staying young” and “just having fun?” Did you say anything to them about it? If so, what did you say?

    ~ I must admit, even though I’m only 15, I dont want to grow up; I want to stay young…not because I want to goof-off, but because I’m scared…I already know which college I want to attend, and even what career I feel I’m called to pursue (social work). I know growing up is a part of life and inevitable, I am just afraid that I won’t use these important and once in a lifetime teen years to the best of my ability to prepare myself for what God has for my future…I guess I’m afraid of somehow disappointing God.

    3.) Whether its speaking to your friends about the rebelution, evangelizing, etc. have you fallen into the trap of telling people all about the “pills” and failing to adequately explain the nature and danger of the “disease?”

    ~I humbly and sheepishly say “yes”. I think it’s more important to tell them about the disease, because if they know about the terrible disease, they’ll want a “pill” or “cure” for that.

    oh, and great post brett!

    ~Elisabeth J. Gruber

  • Hey guys,
    to start off with i just want to say what an awesome job you guys are doing and how much it has helped and encouraged me in my life, Thanks!
    Secondly, I want to say that i agree with everything you guys are saying. I am 18 and home schooled and i have to confess that I don’t really want to grow up, not because I just want to hang out and have fun, but because i am scared to death of being on my own. I know i can’t escape growing up, but believe me, if i could, i would. It’s not that i don’t want to be responsible, it’s just that i don’t feel really confident that i can do it. But there is no way to escape it, so i will keep on praying for God to help me and keep doing my best.

    With love from your sister in Christ,

  • Hey guys! I want to start off saying that I agree with Melissa on saying that you guys are definately awesome and encouraging. And I have to say that some of this material about growing up is hard to swallow. I’m an 18-year-old, freshly graduated homeschooler and the whole fact that my life is standing in front of me is daunting. I was wondering what you guys thought about people like me that really have no clue what they want to do, no specific talents, and yet desire the grow up and do great and big things for God? It seems like I’ve been missing a magic ingredient or somthing. If I don’t know God’s will by now, am I a Kidult in the making?


  • One interesting observation I’ve made is that a lot of teens that I come into contact with want to grow up. But there’s a catch – they don’t want the responsibility that comes with it. They want a car, but they don’t want to pay (or at least help pay) for it. They want a boyfriend/girlfriend, but they’re not ready to get married, or even consider it. They want to be treated like an adult, but they hold on to their “kidness” so it is easy to treat them as such. They beg for iPods, gameboys, etc., but they can’t manage to finish their homework on time.

    How would you help them to see that growth requires responsibility?

  • I really don’t want to grow up. I’ve been homeschooled for several years and I’m in Grade 11 this year. I live in the country in the middle of nowhere. I have very little people contact and I’m literally terrified of people. I tense up when I need to speak to someone, I can’t answer the phone and I’m really just petrified of people. I don’t want to grow up and work. I don’t want to manage my own life, I want my parents to do that. I don’t want to ask for things for fear of rejection. Quite frankly, I’m scared.
    Up until 6 months ago, I’d never heard of Michael Jackson. Then, I saw a clip of his and I was hooked. Next came the cds, then the videos and then the snooping about his life on the internet. Michael Jackson is the perfect example of what it’s like to stay a kid forever. He has sleepovers, only married to have children then promptly filed a divorce and he’s living the childhood that he never had. Sadly, I’ve listened to his life story and decided that staying young forever is possible and what I wanted to do. I’m scared and I don’t want to live out in the real world. I’ll probably end up on a mountaintop in the Alps or something! I’m scared. I don’t want to leave the comfort of childhood. I want to stay young forever. Please, please pray for me. Pray that God will lead me out of this sticky trap of fear. Please.

  • 1) I think that most teens want to stay young forever to avoid responsibility

    2) This used to be actually a big part of me and my friend’s conversation. Even though he’s homeschooled and I’m public schooled, a few years ago we both wanted to stay young forever. Fast forward to now and we’re itching to grow up. We talked about the pros and cons and found out (through your book, the Bible and a few other books and us just talking) having responsibility is actually more “fun” that Xbox or Wii or any other “fun” stuff we used to do to waste time. Plus, you have this good feeling after you do something hard and especially if you did it for God.

    3) I think I have usually told people about the disease and the pills well, but they still seem to think I’m a crazy doctor sometimes. Maybe they think they’ll get lucky and their vaccination will be enough. But it isn’t.

    I have to say I like this analogy a lot. Thanks for writing this, and of course the book Do Hard Things, it really changed my view of responsibility. keep it up 😉

  • I find your comparison of “growing up” to a disease a bit counterproductive, if easy to read.

    I also find myself confused, having not read much of this site, whether you are implying that someone who chooses not to marry and have children is, by those lifestyle omissions, a ‘kidult’. Can that person not serve Christ equally as well acting as a teacher in a country that needs help (serving the children, educating the people), a doctor in a foreign place that needs medicine, and yet also have a full and fulfilling Christian life – even without a spouse or offspring? I believe that answer is a resounding yes, and evidence that God will call us all to different paths in our life. The understanding I have is that if God brings us to it, it is not wrong – even if it is outside the societal norm.

  • I do agree with this. However, I feel that there IS a dividing line of being ‘youthful’ and enjoying times in life when a young person doesn’t have to have responsibility constantly on his or her shoulders.
    Even Jesus didn’t begin His public ministry until He was thirty years old. And–He was GOD!! He could have begun His ministry at the age of thirteen or even seventeen. But Father God obviously had a reason for Jesus to wait until He was older.
    For people like me who have had to ‘grow up’ and mature at a younger age than usual, I wish that I had the opportunity to simply enjoy being carefree and thrive doing the normal things I was SUPPOSED to be doing as a ten-year-old.
    I understand that the majority of today’s youth is immature and wanting to sit back and let everyone else provide for them all their lives. But where’s the grace for enjoying each stage of life? At seventeen you’re not supposed to conquer the world! Jesus didn’t, so why should I put that burden on myself if God Himself didn’t take it upon Himself?
    If young people put the responsibility of great things on themselves before they should then it’s not going to profit them later on in life– in fact I believe it will have the opposite effect. There is a time for every season… don’t try to put more on your shoulders before you’re called to. Jesus said that His yoke (or burden) is EASY. If we were supposed to labor and strive then the Bible’s picture for Christians would be horses or camels rather than sheep, God would be a horse master instead of a Shepherd.

  • i have a friend who is in 7th grade and she claims she is madly in love this dude has “dumped” her several time and just last month gave her an engraved bracelet. im the only girl in my class who hasnt been “involved” with any one its not that im a “peter pan that shaves” i know EVERYONE grows up but if im a kid i want to enjoy like you said we grow by the second but unlike others i wanna ejoy my “second as a kid” any comments?????

  • One important thing is that if you are searching for a education loan you may find that you will want a cosigner. There are many situations where this is correct because you should find that you do not use a past credit ranking so the bank will require you have someone cosign the borrowed funds for you. Interesting post.

  • I tried viewing your site with my iphone and the design doesnt seem to be correct. Might want to check it out on WAP as well as it seems most cell phone layouts are not really working with your web page.

  • In answer to question 3:

    Yes, in fact, I have. I was at a severely worldly program and the Rebolution became a topic of discussion. I was being fired with seemingly millions of question from 12-14 other middleschoolers. I didn’t know exactly how to answer all of the questions. Now when it becomes a topic, I will know exactly how to answer. Thanks so much for the advice!!

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →