Have you ever snapped at a whining child to “Grow up!”? While maturing isn’t quite the matter of “just doing it” that that phrase would imply, it’s true that “growing up”—as opposed to simply growing older—is largely a matter of choice. It’s also true that, while many people reach a point of stagnation by default, no one ever really finishes growing up in this world. There are always new lessons to learn and new improvements to implement.
Before you get annoyed with your kids for “not wanting to grow up,” be sure you aren’t setting them the example. If you have any of the following habits, you’ve got more growing up to do than you think.
Playing It Safe
How sad that children see “grown up” as a world of unlimited opportunities and achievements—and that the adult definition of “growing up” includes developing the “sense” not to take chances, to follow the safe and boring route of working for a (theoretically) permanent comfort zone. Then we wonder why life feels like such a pointless grind. No one’s saying you should quit your job and move to Tahiti because you once dreamed of growing up to be a surfer; but human nature was designed to thrive on challenge, not stagnant safety. The most fulfilled adults are the ones who are always working on some bigger project or skill than they’ve yet achieved—and who recognize that that means more than a promotion into higher-paying but no-more-purposeful work.
Putting Expediency First
You’ve probably heard—perhaps on the national news—of people who spent decades advising others to do the right thing no matter how hard it was, then made an exception for themselves. Whatever values you think you believe in, you aren’t fully committed if you can be swayed by threat of inconvenience or embarrassment, or by promise of material benefit. Not even if it’s “just this once” under circumstances you never anticipated.
You know about the hazards of too much instant gratification and a higher balance on your credit card than in your savings account. But do you ever consider how your actions today could have effects on generations yet to come? There’s a story of a medieval bricklayer who proudly announced, “I’m not just earning a living. I’m building a cathedral”—no doubt aware that the project he was playing a role in wouldn’t be completed before his great-great-great grandchildren were of working age. Thinking about multiple generations of legacy, not to mention eternal values, has become a lost art in an era obsessed with rapid progress. Are you willing to play a role in reviving really long-term thinking?
And are you willing to keep on growing up for your own sake, for the sake of your children who are watching you, and for the sake of everyone they will touch (including your grandchildren and great-grandchildren) by following your example of continuing to grow up all their lives?
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!