I am an adult but it wasn’t long ago that I was a child. Now I am a father, and in the transition from being a son to being a father, I became aware of how unbalanced the adult-child relationship actually is. As a kid, I most often interacted with my teachers, parents, and friends’ parents, which led to the buildup of a set of assumptions. Now, I live with adults, I work with adults, and I am an adult (at least, I feel like one). Being on the other side, I’ve discovered that adults are not the people I thought they were. Here is a list of the most incorrect assumptions I used to have.
Adult development is static
It always seemed to me that kids were the only ones growing. I now know that adults grow too. The difference is that kids are forced to grow, as their bodies change and their responsibilities expand. Adults must choose to grow, by intentionally placing themselves in situations outside their comfort zone. For the adults that make that choice, they can look forward to a lifetime of growth.
Adults are patient
This is a lie. Adults only look patient because as masters of their environment they seldom have to wait for anything. Parents will harp on their kids to wait their turn, but on the occasions that you see those same people stuck in traffic or on hold with customer support, you’ll realize that this is one of those areas where many adults still need to grow up.
Adults exercise self-control
This is the biggest lie of them all. An adult’s lack of self-control doesn’t usually result in a temper tantrum but it is pervasive in a variety of other forms. You’ll see it in mindless gossip, heated arguments, drunkenness, dodging responsibility, over-eating, consumer debt, infidelity, online flame wars, grudges, bitterness, strained relationships with in-laws, fault-finding, divorce, lawsuits, materialism, communication breakdowns, disorganization, disrespect, racism, bigotry, and many other attitudes that harm families and send negative ripples throughout our communities.
All in all it seems that parents tend to be hypocrites… scolding their children for the very behaviors they fail to correct in themselves. Christ had several teachings around this topic (he had a way of calling out hypocrites). He called the pharisees “whited sepulchers” who looked respectable on the outside, but on the inside were filled with “dead men’s bones” . He commanded them to clean the inner vessel first , and to cast the beam out of their own eye, before searching for motes in the eyes of others . These teachings take on new meanings when applied to the parent reproving a child.
However, a few of my childhood assumptions were actually correct. I’ll leave you with just one.
Adults are boring
While there are exceptions, this one is largely true. At our annual family reunions in Star Valley, Wyoming, the adults would congregate in the family room and talk. I would stand there for a little bit, but I would instantly become bored and run off to hunt for bugs, or rocks, or materials to build a fort out of. Then, occasionally, I’d pop back in to see what was going on but I would always find them still sitting there, talking. We just drove 8 hours so you could all sit here and talk?!? No water-balloon fight? No Frisbee throwing? Not even a board game? In their defense, we actually would have these activities, but to me it seemed like nearly 90% of their time was just spent in that living room… talking. BORING!