Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Oh, Grow Up

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  • James Butler,

    My wife and I are 30, and we'll have a teenage son next year. Guess which path to adulthood we won't be encouraging?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    With two boys on the spectrum, we find this stuff particularly perplexing. We know they'll develop in different ways, and be "late bloomers", but we really have no idea of where they're supposed to be at. I would say that our younger son, who still has issues with emotional control, in some ways has greater emotional maturity and self-knowledge than some of the "adults" I have had to work for as managers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I would say that our younger son, who still has issues with emotional control, in some ways has greater emotional maturity and self-knowledge than some of the “adults” I have had to work for as managers.

    That's interesting - do you think that some of this might come from having had to confront and analyse his own emotions from a relatively early age? Someone on twitter the other day said something like "Cognitive [or Dialectical? can't remember] Behavioural Therapy should be taught in high school". It can be pretty interesting comparing the behaviours of people who have mental illnesses or other emotional disorders and know they need to deal with this stuff, and "normal" functioning adults who don't, and don't. It's not always flattering to the latter.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    My wife and I are running into this head-first (not for our children, but for ourselves). She's just turned 30 and I'm a spring chicken of 28. We've had plenty of discussions recently about what it means to be an "adult". We're married, we own a house and we have middle-class professional jobs. Are we adults? We don't feel like adults.

    A lot of our friends are now starting to have kids. That kinda makes them adults. But again we don't feel like some of them are properly adults. You know who are adults? Our freaking parents. Those farkers are ollllllld. But not us. We'll be young forever.

    I'm so confused.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    sounds like you keep them locked in the basement…

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3414 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    I’m 34, and my marital status is best described as single but eligible. Yet somehow I’m still 27-30 at heart.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4351 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David Cormack,

    Are we adults? We don’t feel like adults.

    Dude. I'm 50. And I still get that all the time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thank god I have another two decades of irresponsibility then.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to James Butler,

    That’s interesting – do you think that some of this might come from having had to confront and analyse his own emotions from a relatively early age?

    More likely from innate innocence of the kind of high-school bullshit noted by Emma. We tend to forget the behaviour towards others that apparent grown-ups justify in themselves when they feel insecure or under pressure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    edit at least another two decades…

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Are we adults? We don’t feel like adults.

    Dude. I'm 50. And I still get that all the time.

    "Everybody" does. At some time in my mid-twenties (by which time I already had kids) I had a conversation with friends and suddenly realised that I wasn't the only person who felt like they were faking being a grown-up, and at some point I was going to get called out on it.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to David Cormack,

    A lot of our friends are now starting to have kids

    Some of our friends kids are about to have 21st birthday parties!

    That means I must be an adult right? I've worn a tie I think twice in my life. I don't own a business suit, but my brother wears one every day. I've only ever owned one house. I still like playing games. I still want toys for my birthday.

    Adult? Me? wadryatalkinabout?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3414 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We tend to forget the behaviour towards others that apparent grown-ups justify in themselves when they feel insecure or under pressure.

    Yeah, there is careless behaviour that comes from a lack of empathy, and there is vicious behaviour that comes from knowing how someone will feel, and deliberately hurting them. My daughter went through some horrible Teenage Girl Shit at the end of last year. I want to be able to say to her, "It's never going to be that hard again. Adults don't behave like that." Gods I wish that were true.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    Maybe it's because adult carries with it a weight of responsibility that we don't want to absorb. If we want to be reckless we can. This must mean we're not adults right?

    suddenly realised that I wasn’t the only person who felt like they were faking being a grown-up, and at some point I was going to get called out on it

    Emma, I'm relieved someone else has that fear because I'm sure that one day, someone is going to call me out and go "Hey Dave, you don't really know what you're doing in life do you?" at which point my entire world view crumbles.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I think of all those things to learn saying "I'm sorry" is the hardest and most important of all.

    I think I got the hang of it by about 30, not actually saying it, just knowing I should be saying it.

    Saying "I Love you" ... out loud ... actually to the person you love ... regularly ... and meaning it. Today marks our 14th year as a married couple, I may not be an adult but I know I love my partner and I try and remember to tell her that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3414 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    in a pit of their own filth

    Damn I guess I really should clean the house this weekend.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3414 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    I see Damian has helpfully defined what a young person is in his blog post.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 216 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    It does seem that "not feeling like an adult" is feeling like an adult.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Michael J. Parry,

    suddenly realised that I wasn’t the only person who felt like they were faking being a grown-up, and at some point I was going to get called out on it

    Do we ever grow out of that?

    Dannevirke/Wellington • Since Feb 2012 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I have a good friend on the spectrum and he's been long and happily married with kids. He says he's hopeless at relationships, but I don't believe it. He always responds immediately if a friend is sad or needs help. In fact he is MORE attentive than many of my neurotypical friends.

    I know he works hard to infer and deduce all he does. And he doesn't always get it right (who does?). But he thinks working hard to connect and be with other people is an important thing to do.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3466 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Well I have two kids, both are now off to Uni and have actually left home - that whole "empty nest" thing is quite real .... they both can drive, feed themselves, budget, get out of bed to go to classes by themselves so I think mostly we've done OK.

    I do think that a large part of getting them to learn the big lessons as teenagers involves giving them space to safely fuck up .... as parents we may lecture them about all sorts of stuff but to internalise that stuff they often need to figure that stuff out themselves the hard way ..... so not too much cotton wool .... yes you do need to drink too much one night to really learn why it's a bad idea (and yes as parents it's quite OK to feed them bacon and greasy eggs the next morning to help drive the lesson home ....)

    On the other hand it's stupid to try and teach them 'facts' that they can disprove on their own - after all we want them to be capable of critical thinking as adults - so no "one joint and you'll be hooked" stuff ..... we found that taking out 10-12yr olds to Burningman was useful - "look at that guy, he's having no fun" - we've tried to teach facts and moderation rather than abstinence in general

    Maybe understanding the value of "moderation" may have a lot to do with "being an adult"

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2171 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    My definition of reaching adulthood was when I suddenly (and seriously) thought about my eventual demise. Which was only a few years ago BTW :-). Suddenly, the second half seems to have an end.....which was something that "less than" adults (ie, when I was one) rarely thought about.

    After spending life raising three girls and seeing them disappear to their own worlds, we are happy to see them understand they do have choices, they do make them and the ones they have made have enhanced their enjoyment of life in general. Can't ask for more than that.

    So Damien, suggested "end point" could be when the risk taking becomes untenable.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ross Mason,

    My definition of reaching adulthood was when I suddenly (and seriously) thought about my eventual demise.

    Can you believe that these days I get the mortality thing and the "not really a grown-up" thing? Am I weird?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18957 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    As a 16 year old, I wanted to be treated as an adult. We ran our own Venturer unit and were hard on the adult leader who was foisted on us (sorry Barry). So much so that he gave up - which suited us fine. At age 22 I bought a one way ticket to London, and lived and worked overseas, which confirmed to me that I had grown up.

    But I still didn't feel like a grown up. I worked. I travelled on my own. I bought a house. I co-habited. I got married. But I still didn't think of myself as a grown up. I think I first felt like a grown up, the day I carried my new-born son up the front steps of our house. A tsunami of fear and awe washed over me as I suddenly realised that I was totally responsible for this person.

    I think an important stepping stone is when you admit to yourself that your parents are fallible. I mean sure they make mistakes, like everyone, but at some point it dawns on you, that maybe, just maybe, you now know more about the world than they do. Each of my parents now seem to ask me for advice more often than I ask them.

    Not having parents that you can interact with could perhaps delay the day that you feel that you are a "proper" adult.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 420 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    Interesting and your last thought on "pit of filth" is a good start

    One of the thing that I have noticed during my life (and I am not on the pension yet so I am not that old) is the rapid lengthening of childhood
    When you had to wait till you were 21 to drink and vote you just couldn't wait to be an adult
    Because most people left school at 15 into paid work they owned houses and were married by their mid 20s, meant they were adult
    Now of course you are lucky to be working let alone taking on real debt at that age
    It also seems that this slowing of becoming an adult is getting even longer as you can tell by the comments above,
    Then there are children who don't or can't leave the nest which in Japan and Europe is seen as a real problem

    Whether this is good or bad I don't have a strong opinion and with the rising life span probably no big deal anyway, it is just interesting

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

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