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Growing Up is Optional

Avatar_DavidBentley When a youngster wants to do something or go somewhere, and a parent refuses the request, the most common comeback I’ve heard is, “BUT I WANT TO.” Parents typically respond with one of two types of remarks: 1) “I understand what you’re saying, but we’re not going to do that,” or 2) “I said, ‘No!’ Are you deaf?” Eventually the child gives up on the request that became a demand before turning into a temper tantrum, or receives some sort of negative consequence.

When a teenager wants to do something that another friend is doing, and a parent refuses the request, the most common comeback I’ve heard is, “BUT EVERYBODY ELSE IS DOING IT.” Parents typically respond with one of two types of remarks: 1) “That’s too bad, because you are not going to do it,” or 2) “I said, ‘No!’ Are you deaf?” After a sufficient amount of drama, the teenager eventually gives up on the request or receives some sort of negative consequence – often involving being grounded.

Then we come to adulthood. Naturally our parents still have opinions, which they often freely express. However they no longer have responsibility for our actions, nor do they have control over us, our bank accounts, or our car keys. Those of us who are married, or in a significant relationship, still have a spouse to contend with; but even that is not the same. Ultimately, we are the ones who make the choices, reap the consequences, and decide whether to take responsibility for our actions or to blame someone or something else.

We still get to say, “BUT I WANT TO,” or “EVERYBODY ELSE IS DOING IT,” or any number of other demands and excuses. The difference is that we are now dealing with rather indifferent employers, civil authorities, and courts of law rather than our parents, who generally loved us and wanted us to do well.

As an old t-shirt of mine said, “Getting older is inevitable. Growing up is optional.” All you have to do is listen to the news or read a few headlines to recognize that the world is, indeed, full of options and many fools willing to exercise them all.

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About David Bentley

Avatar_DavidBentleyDavid Bentley, M.Ed., is an avid observer of people, places and events. He uses his storytelling and questioning skills to help himself and others think outside the box in an ever-changing world.

Comments about his column can be sent to davidbentley@sanjuanislander.com

© 2014 David Bentley