To Be An Adult
Robert A. Hall
The Peter Pan syndrome – males who remain boys all their lives – has long been with us. But now what I call "Aging Adolescents" (A.A.s) include as many females as males, and may be a majority in the younger generations. And they are raising, if one dares use that word, children who will replicate themselves as lifelong children. This threatens the economic, fiscal, and political well-being of our society and culture. Children are unable to lead, function in, or defend a society.
I consulted with a couple of friends and thought it might help if I put down what we believe an adult is. Perhaps not, but it can't hurt.
1. Adults take responsibility for their actions, say "I'm sorry," try to fix any problems resulting from their errors, accept the consequences of their actions, and learn from them. A.A.s run around saying, "It's not my fault," always blaming others, however tenuous the connection, while the catastrophe created by their bad decisions brings life down about their heads.
2. Adults plan for the future and make decisions that will lead to a better life in the months and years ahead. Plans, of course, may be interrupted by events beyond your control, but as Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." A.A.s make short-term "live for today" decisions and are always surprised when tomorrow arrives and their lives go sour.
3. Adults support themselves and their families. Again, uncontrollable events like illness can intervene, but adults get an education, get a full-time job (however bad), work hard at it, and move up. A.A.s live off others, including family; friends; borrowing; theft; and, of course, the taxpayers – and believe they are entitled to live at others' expense.
4. Adults know it's not all about them. They put their families, their community, their organization, their place of worship, and/or their country first. They care about things other than themselves. They have empathy and can see others' points of view. For A.A.s, it's all about "me," all about "now." And they wonder why they are almost always deeply unhappy.
5. Adults have resilience. They develop coping skills by...well, coping with things as they come. They can, as football players say, "take a hit" and come back. A.A.s' coping mechanism is to run to Mommy and Daddy, to anyone they can suck energy and help out of, and, of course, to the government to solve their problems, big and small.
6. Adults know that there is no such thing as a "safe space." The only safety in this world is being ready to defend yourself, your family, and your country. A.A.s are oblivious.
7. Adults are infrequent complainers. A.A.s make themselves deeply unhappy and people to be avoided by whining all the time. And about things that "aren't my fault."
8. Adults act and dress like adults. A.A.s dress like kids or thugs, wear odd clothing, sport odd hairstyles and colors and tattoos and piercings. And they wonder why others don't treat them as adults.
9. Adults can listen to opposing viewpoints from people with different worldviews or cultures without becoming offended, hurtling insults, or calling names. A.A.s need a safe space, and name-calling is their default response.
10. Adults look for shared interests rather than differences to focus on. A.A.s always focus on the negative.
11. Adults do not enjoy being victims. They are not always looking for reasons, however obscure, to be offended. A.A.s believe that "I'm a victim, therefore I am."
12. Adults are good neighbors, always ready to lend a helping hand, and considerate of other folks. A.A.s want to know first, "What's in it for me?"
13. Adults are good citizens, voting, staying informed on public issues, and knowledgeable about their country's institutions and history. A.A.s are not interested if it doesn't offer them something today.
14. Adults love their children too much to allow them to be disrespectful of other people and their property. They expect their children to have consequences for their behavior. They try to nurture their children in the interest of them becoming adults, though the culture can thwart them. A.A.s are indifferent, as they don't know what adulthood is.
15. Adults are considerate and law-abiding drivers. They know that it is better to be ten minutes late in this world than ten years early in the next – and that being early isn't worth risking someone else's life, maybe a child's. A.A.s drive as if they were being timed. Eventually, time runs out.
16. Adults know that the best policy is to under-promise and over-perform. They make promises sparingly and always try to keep them. A.A.s toss out promises like candy at a parade, with no thought of keeping them. When they don't, it's always "somebody else's fault."
And yes, I know that adults aren't 100% on all these items all the time, perfection being beyond human reach. But they try.
I've always liked the joke, "Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional." But far too many kids today see it as a lifestyle, not a joke. When the society collapses around them, they will demand, "Why didn't somebody do something?"