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Posts Tagged ‘adults’

How can a 25-year-old act so much like a teenager?

Well, why do we make such a distinction between teenagers and people in their twenties?  Why should we expect significant changes?

Perhaps what changes people into the typical 25-year-olds is experience, not time.

The social norm is for 25-year-olds to have graduated college.  They’ve spent time among their peers even freer from elder supervision than high school.  They have met ideas different from those by which they were raised.  Sometimes students move out.  Finances tend to be handled by the collegian, including the huge monetary investment or loan of a college tuition.  After college, a 25-year-old has the pressure to make good use of that degree, especially regarding earning.

Most 25-year-olds have dated.  Whatever you think of that custom, it has an undeniable effect, socially and mentally.  Someone who has been in even one relationship has learned to interact with a person of the opposite sex on a level that is different from any other relationship.  They have also learned to analyze their future in light of that relationship.

Many 25-year-olds are married.  That interaction and analysis begun in dating (or courtship or engagement or whatever) has been made permanent.  They have taken up marital responsibilities towards their spouse, established a home and family of their own.  Commitment is not foreign to the married; they have given the biggest gift they ever can: all of themselves for the rest of their lives.

A lot of 25-year-olds have kids.  Kids are a challenge.  Parenting takes effort and patience and wisdom and sacrifice, right from the beginning.  And it is a guaranteed job for years to come.  Parents have less time to devote to wondering about their relationships with others, to play, to dream about the future.

As a 25-year-old, I have learned a lot and changed significantly since I was a teenager.  My knowledge of the world and of other people’s ideas has grown.  I know myself better.  God is more precious and big to me than ever.  I drive a car, and manage my finances.  Experiences have led me to make friends my parents have never met.  PG-13 movies are no longer off-limits.  School is done.  Institutional church is in my past.  I own a business.  My friends are mostly older than 18.

But I crave commitment.  I worry about the future.  My social skills around (and about) men are not what they could be if I was settled in as someone’s wife, if I had built up the experience of choosing a mate and being chosen.  Kids are great, but I have no idea what it is like to have the burden of raising them or the joy of being the first person on earth to meet them.  I don’t know how to grocery shop or cook every day.  Play is still a large part of my schedule, and it can be at ridiculous hours like 2 AM.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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On the problem of teaching children right from wrong – of teaching them wisdom – especially in the abstract circumstances:
 
I sit in my office listening to a mother interact with her young daughter over a Highlights magazine.  Seeing a picture of a child riding a vacuum, the girl recognizes, “That is no, no, no, no, no.”  The mother supports her child, “Yes, that’s silly.” 
 
So we see that the girl knows the word “no,” and that it indicates something which should not be done. 
 
The mother takes a psychological approach today, creating the association of silliness with things which might be dangerous or wrong. 
 
My problem with this is that youth – and at times even adults – are supposed to be silly.  They can make faces and jokes, stand on their heads, and draw pictures of fish in trees.  A court jester is silly for entertainment.  He is humble, too. 
 
In the old days a jester was also called a fool.  But here we meet the same difficulty.  Foolishness is rejection of God, emptiness, the opposite of wisdom and faith.  Fools we should never be if we can help it. 
 
Riding on a vacuum cleaner is more accurately described as foolish.  The consequences are not foreseen, authority and respect for property overlooked, and no justification given for the activity.  Is that what the mother wanted to teach her daughter? 
 
The danger in teaching children that wrong things are silly is that there are many things silly that are not wrong.  If you say it is silly to eat a peanut butter sandwich only from the left-hand side, or to sing a song of sixpence, then either the child will be terrified, considering all things unlike his parents to be wrong – or he will learn that wrong things are merely silly, and one day he will try them anyway, just to be funny or just to be curious.  “Silly” takes the seriousness out of disobedience. 
 
What do I recommend, then?  Usually when I have parenting ideas, they seem quite logical, natural, and easy to implement.  In this case I cannot think of an easy way to overcome this tendency.  Adults – especially worn out parents who have had little but two-year-old style conversation – are not creative or attentive enough generally to accurately describe why they disapprove of a certain course of action.  Thus they resort to the “silly” tactic, or “because I said so.” 
 
Now “because I said so” is a valid thing to teach.  Authority must be obeyed even when we do not understand the reason.  Unto parents is committed a more complex responsibility of bringing up a child to be able to make his own decisions when there is not authority to instruct.  So most of the time a parent should accompany an instruction with a reason, sharing their rationale. 
 
“Don’t take your pennies out of your pocket.  That isn’t careful.  If you lose them that would be irresponsible.” 
 
“Thank you for taking your own plate to the sink.  That was very responsible of you.” 
 
“Good job carrying the cup of water to Daddy.  You were careful it didn’t spill.” 
 
“You shouldn’t make fun of your brother or call him names.  That is unkind.” 
 
“Jesus said to be kind to one another.  Mommy is kind to you when she helps you tie your shoes.” 
 
“That was your sister’s toy.  Don’t steal it from her.  That is selfish.  Love your sister and share with her.” 
 
“Telling mom no is wrong.  God gave you a mom to take care of you, and He made her the boss.” 
 
Jane Austen’s grown-up characters responded well to the more descriptive rebukes.  Some were accompanied by explanations, and others were one-liners.  Mr. Knightley does not tell Emma “That was silly,” but the much more potent, “Badly done!”  Jane checks Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice by saying, “Lizzie, that was unkind!” 
 
How much better would we all respond if, rather than a culture that hints and manipulates (psychological influence, peer pressure, teasing, silent treatment, “that’s silly”), we had a culture where good friends and family could tell each other they were wrong?  And doesn’t the descriptive version reinforce values?  If I scolded to a little boy that he was being “ungentlemanly,” I am implying that there is such a thing as a gentleman and that it is a high calling.  On playgrounds children still value courage, by taunting each other with “coward” (or its loosely associated, “chicken”).  Jane valued kindness and knew that, in principle, her sister did, too.  Mr. Knightley appealed to Emma’s goodness. 
 
I might say, “That was dishonest,” or “That was imprudent,” “that was unwise,” unsound, inconsiderate, selfish, malicious, dangerous, destructive, unhealthy…
 
Any other suggestions, experiences being descriptively corrected, examples, arguments, etc?  Comment!
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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