rebelling against low expectations

Kidults: 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.

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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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  • I’d like to tell Allegra that growing up is wonderful! I loved becoming independent. It brought responsibility, but it also brought choices. I was free to choose how I would live. Over time I have developed friendships with people who inspire me. I am not limited to who is in my class – the sky is the limit! I am a straight-laced, disciplined person, but I laugh and play and do what I love. Maybe the people who tell you highschool is the time of your life didn’t really grow up. Maybe they just got older. I can’t imagine what it is, but I find adulthood the time of my life. I hope you will, too!

  • To an extent, I can understand Allegra. I think most of us would love the opportunity to shirk responsibility. I mean, we know that we must take it on and we look forward to certain aspects of it, but there is always a part of us that just wants to avoid it.

    The best way to look at it, I suppose, is to see coming to this time of full responsibility as making our opportunity to serve God even greater.

  • You’re right, David. All of us, as fallen human beings, have a tendency to laziness. It is a fight to prepare, especially when our culture does not encourage us to do so… But as Christians, I believe this fight is our calling.

    We will never regret developing responsibility. We will regret failing to.

  • Since I play sports, I am always practicing for them. When it comes time for my first game I am super excited, but at the same time incredibly nervous. This is how I veiw growing up. We practice and go through the same routines for months and months. When it comes to that big game there won’t be any more routines. It is the result of those routines that equal our game. The routines are our habits and the game is adulthood. I know that growing up doesn’t come as suddenly as a single game, but its just an example. I think teen’s are afraid to grow up because they know adulthood is like a big game. They know whats coming, but they are not adequetly prepared. Now some are prepared for what growing into an adult will throw you…they have practiced…and are ready to play!

    Great post Alex!
    God bless!

  • I like the sports analogy, Lauren, and the time is swiftly coming when many of us will be playing for keeps. That is both an encouraging thought, and a sobering one to me. I can definitely understand your fear, Allegra. It does seem like there are so many adults who have “lost.” But, if we are prepared to play well, instead of becoming a dread, the game just becomes all the more fascinating, challenging and rewarding.

    The other thought I had as I was reading this post was that many fears about growing up seem to come from our view of adults. We are surrounded by Adultescents – and no one wants to grow up to be that. So we react by trying to stay a kid forever…which perpetuates the problem. I think there is a great need to see positive role-models among the adults we see. Some times they are very hard to find…But history is full of them. I always thought the “who is your hero” question was clich�. But I’m starting to wonder. We all need a hero – some one to imitate. And the best hero’s are the ones who truly grew up.

  • Wow, guys, I am really impressed! Just came to your blog and read through this series and have a comment. As a young wife and mother of 2 (soon to be three) I find this attitude is still a part of my life. As someone else mentioned—we all face laziness as a foe. Becoming a parent was and is very hard at times—so much sacrifice is required, and then there is the realization that this is only the beginning. I am starting homeschooling my oldest this year—and once more finding that selfishness and the desire to have “my” fun is hard to overcome. God uses all these things to refine us, to show us our sinfulness and our need for HIm!

    I also see this in the lives of my other young married friends. They put off having children (again, postponing the enevitable as they say they want 4-5 kids someday) so that they can save up lots of money now, enjoy being a couple now, and take lavish vacations now (before kids come and all those things fly out the window—that’s their implication) True, as I have just said, parenting is hard and a huge adjustment, but why postpone it just for your own “fun”? That’s just going to make it all the harder in the long run.

    Or they spend inordinate amounts of their paychecks on their “toys” and “hobbies”.

    Thanks for your blog and for giving me so much food for thought!

  • I’m in a tug of war…and i’m the rope! Part of me wants to run away, hide and never grow up while my other half tells me how dumb an idea that is. While I feel pulled down on one end, (by my own lazyness, friends ect,) you guys encourage me up. (nah, I won’t snap. But some momentem going in the right direction already might be nice/good…) Your blog is a huge ecouragement guys. Thanks

  • Oh, Do yall mind/is it ok to copy and paste portions of your articals to my own blog? I was wondering.
    (I put up a links to therebelution.)

  • Jan posted that someone said the high school years are supposed to be fun. I’d like to meet those people. They can come tour my high school. I hope they’re into serious drama, catfights, drugs, immaturity, and snobbiness. If that’s their idea of fun, then by all means, high school is a blast. =/ just thought I’d remind those who have forgotten- beinga teen is sometimes just as bad as being an adult.

  • I think that becoming an adult, does not include comletely forgetting childhood. Even though I’m seventeen, I still immensely appreciate it when a grown up can easily play games and joke with me and my siblings. I don’t want to grow up to be the kind of person that all the children have to “mind their p’s and q’s” around. Of course I want to be responsable, mature, and goldy. But I think that being mature is more than people often think it is. When I’m in the store, and my sister drops the ketchup bottle and gets ketchup all over, being mature isn’t just being able to handle the situation calmly, I think it involves being able to laugh about it, and being responsable enough to help clean it up and pay for it. At the end of a lengthy quote by C. S. Lewis, in which he talks about growing up, he says: “A tree grows because it adds rings: a train doesn’t grow by leaving one station behind and puffing on to the next.”

    That kinda sums up what I was thinking. This is a great series, and is encouraging me to really grow up in my responsability, and to stretch myself. Thanks for putting it up!

  • In many ways I can understand you Allegra. A lot of adults I knew as a child weren’t very connected with children, and made me feel excluded from the world (to this day I still hate being excuded from anything). I kinda got the feeling that it was boring being “Grown Up”.
    Now that I’m graduating from high school and on the brink of what society calls “adulthood”, I reaize that it was just them and adults don’t have to be boring. i think I have also leared to remember what it felt like for me to be noticed and included by people I looked up to. They took time to be interested in me enough to play with me, even if it was a bit boring for them.

  • I wonder if growing up is hard also because it means giving up some things that we like now to mature, but we will find better and more fulfilling things as we grow up…

    What do you mean by ” our companions are not limited to people” ? Do you mean like books? We could learn a lot from book-companions. Especially if we cannot be around the actual wise people who wrote them.

    I clicked on those highlighted words, but it kept saying “error: page not found”. But I still would really like to know what “companions not limited to people” means. :c)

    ~Elisabeth J. Gruber

  • He guys, love reading the blog. I don’t comment often but I want to call attention to the comment about rainforest above. I unintentionally clicked the title and it immediately came up a very offensive porn site. You guys need to keep up the troll patrol! I understand it is hard to catch them all, but I am glad I quit my browser as fast as I could… now I shall have to explain the score to my accountability partner… ha.

  • Allegra’s comments reminded me of something; growing up may be scary, but I suspect that sometimes it may seem scarier than it really has to be.

    As a child and teen growing up, I was terrified that to become an adult meant the end, not merely of “fun” in the shallow, self-absorbed sense which these blogs have been so masterfully exploring, but of joy, wonder, celebration, the ‘magic’ of childhood; I feared it meant getting turned into a corporate America drone.

    (If any of you are familiar with Supertramps “The Logical Song”, the lyrics capture my misgivings quite accurately.) )

    Now as a thirtysomething recovering kidult struggling to find and claim my lost maturity, I have increasingly come to realize that mature adulthood need not mean ceasing to be childLIKE, as one grows out of being childISH.

    (If “the Logical Song” summed up my misgivings perfectly, another song equally perfectly captures the cure for this mood: Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins.)

  • Also- I realize that this site was created primarily for and by teens and youth; but I am wondering whether it might be possible to make a section of this site for those of us who are somewhat older, the recovering kidults, to connect, blog, etc.?

  • I think that growing up can seem scary, but there are aspects of growing up that I look forward to.
    Before I became a rebelutionary I dreamed of changing the world when I grew up, now I know that I do not have to wait, if I put my mind to it I can change the world right now.
    Alex and Brett have made that clear in everything they have written.

rebelling against low expectations

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