What is so great about being a grown up? Lots of things!
Have you ever heard an adult complain that kids have it great and don’t even appreciate it? Of course we want our children to have a low-stress life. It’s a travesty to think of children who themselves have to think too early about “grown up” topics like financial hardship, physical disability, the uncertainties of the future.
Childhood can be a terrific time. However, so can adulthood! I worry that kids are buying in to the idea that it is better to be a kid than a grown up.
Recently I led a workshop about respect. We were talking about the ways to address adults and one of the fathers in the room noted how meaningful it was to return from college and be invited by his friends’ parents to address them by their first names. “It was really a special privilege and made me glad to become an adult.”
In an effort to be less authoritarian than our parents’ generation and the ones before, many adults give this privilege to children. “You can call me Nancy!” is actually a way of making the adult feel younger, and more comfortable, and has very little to do with the child. Kids can call adults Mrs. Jones just as easily as “Nancy” and this will help them remember who is the adult.
I don’t think that teens look forward to adulthood just to call adults by their first names. I do think they would look forward to adulthood more if they knew that some respect from younger people would come their way when they reached adult status.
Teaching respectful behavior helps children get along better in the world. Holding off some privileges until they reach adulthood makes being an adult more of a prize. Could there be a connection between the privileges we are awarding too early and the recent tendency for people in their twenties to act as if they are still in their teens? After all, if you get all the perks and none of the pressures, it IS better to be a kid.