Why should Christmas be the only holiday honored with the catchphrase “keep that spirit all year round”? The values at the “heart” of
Arguments of “You aren’t old enough” vs. “But I can handle it!!!” have been a bone of parent–child contention since our ancestors lived in caves. It doesn’t help that kids think privileges should come before responsibilities, while parents insist on the reverse order.
How do you respond when your kids complain it “takes forever to grow up”?
The classic rejoinder is, “Don’t be silly, I wish I was your age again, without a worry in the world.” But it rarely has much effect, and is in fact as silly as the attitude it’s intended to rebuke. If you think for a moment, you no doubt can recall times from your childhood when grownups seemed to have all the abilities and all the rights. To children, life is often a prison where bigger people are always dictating what you can and can’t do—if they aren’t ignoring you completely.
Having seen the grown-up world from both sides, we adults should have the larger perspective and the ability to share it. Show your children some of adulthood’s responsibilities and privileges close up: let them help with chores and DIY projects; bring them to the office occasionally; take them to a sit-down restaurant or Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting. And help them explore ways that day-to-day responsibilities now can prepare them to fulfill big dreams later.
Some parents harbor the attitude that adulthood and its responsibilities are a curse—which may or may not discourage children’s impatience to grow up, but definitely teaches that life is only worth living on those rare days of responsibility-free fun. If you want your kids to look forward to becoming adults while also enjoying the present blessings of being children, try whistling while you work and smiling on both ends of your commute. It’ll not only set an example of the right daily attitude, it’ll improve your energy so you (and your kids) can truly enjoy those days off.
If you really hate your job (or any other aspect of your life), set an example of doing something about your struggles: explore vocational options more suited to your temperament; arrange a discussion to work out a conflict. Remember, your attitude toward life and the individual’s power to influence it, is the attitude your children are likely to carry into the world when they do grow up.
Some parents are more eager than their kids for the kids to grow up, and I’m not referring to retirees who can’t seem to get their thirty-five-year-old offspring out of the family home. Of course you want your children to grow into effective and successful adults, but “successful” doesn’t always mean “millionaire CEO,” and no dream for your child justifies demanding all A’s and head-of-the-class status starting in kindergarten. At any age, life needs its down times, fun times—and time to grow through trial and error. Be an understanding parent who encourages your kids to live balanced lives, and they’ll still be getting the most from life long after they grow up!