(Photo by Selma Komisky)
When I was a Child: A Discussion on Growing Up
By Brittney Perez
If you are a millennial or just live in today’s culture, you have probably heard of the term “adulating.” I remember when this phrase became more popular; it made me laugh. The top definition of the word adulating, according to urbandictionary.com, is: “to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (paying off that credit card debt, settling beef without blasting social media, etc). Exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.” While I read that, I laughed a little on the inside. I know that that’s really how a lot of my generation has a tendency to think. This concept of “adulting” seems more of a striving to be an adult, while still in some ways acting like a teenager instead of actually seeking to live like an adult.
Often times, I find myself looking at my life as an almost 30 year old and thinking about past generations of adults. You know, before the term adulting came into the picture. I’m sure if you’re my age or even younger you think about or have been told how at your age your parents or grandparents already had a house, 4 kids, etc. Today’s adults appear to look a lot different than adults of past generations. For many adults back in the day, when you were 18, you were expected to be out of the house and on your own, which made being an adult and having to do adult things not optional. I know times change and it’s a lot harder to own property and afford a family than it was when our parents/grandparents were younger, but one thing I value about past generations is integrity.
Integrity can look different for each person. When I think of the integrity of past generations, I think about working hard for what you have, not giving up when times get tough, raising your family with morals and values, the list can go on. Here are some things I’ve noticed over the years that differ from decades ago. First off, it appears in today’s culture both parents have to work just to get by, while in the past more women stayed home to raise the kids. With both parents having to work to make ends meet in this day in age, young kids and teens are in some ways left to parent themselves because mom and dad are busy. I’ve seen this a lot. With this being the case, it makes sense why young adults of today have a harder time acclimating into adulthood. I’m not trying to put down situations and life circumstances, but it’s hard to be a working parent and raise kids. And sometimes one or the other suffers the consequences of time being split in different directions. Secondly, back in the day you worked hard for what you had and you took pride in your work. Today (and I’m not speaking for everyone) it appears that more teens and young adults want to do the least amount of work, but receive more. As I think about the generational changes that have taken place over the last couple of decades, it makes me wonder how can this younger generation heading into adulthood learn to “adult” in the culture that we now live in?
A verse that stood out to me when I was preparing this article is one said by the apostle Paul, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11). In this verse Paul is showing that there is a season and time for certain things. When you’re a child, no one expects you to reason or think like an adult. Like Paul is saying in this verse, when you’re a child, you talk, think, and reason like a child. When you get older, it is time to put away childish things.
How can young adults and teens learn to adult, and not in the way that urbandictionary.com defines adulting? I think that in order for true adulting to take place, one needs to self-reflect. Sometimes in life we see areas in our lives that need maturing, but those aren’t necessarily areas we want to focus on because they can be messy, so we put them on the back burner. By doing this, we are not facing our immaturities head on, let alone seeking to work on them. I think we need to look at 1 Corinthians 13:11 a little closer. What are those areas where we are more childish? How can we put childish things behind us? As we look into the Word of God, we see stories of people God used in amazing ways. Young men, though merely youths, became kings/rulers of a nation – even women (read the book of Esther)! They had to learn to adult and they did so with the help of God.
So whether we are well into adulthood or on the pathway to it, I pray that we learn to put childhood ways behind us, whatever those may be. Knowing that the responsibilities of being an adult may not always be easy, but with God’s guidance, we can take on these challenges like the men and women God is calling us to be.