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Someone should have told me this

Somehow, some managed to dodge adulthood.

No spectre of second childhood for them either. Because they never left their first!

There was a time in society: one day you’re a kid and the next day (or week or month tops), you’re an adult – with all its privileges and responsibilities. The societal rites of passage ensured that. No dithering or declining.

Today, in more developed communities, it is possible to be averse to growing up. As summarised by Catherine Winter, “They take one look at the prospect of becoming a mature adult and decide… nah, it’s not for them.”

Yup, if adulthood looked like this, who in his right mind, would desire it?

^ Adults eat food for nutrients and not just taste

^ Adults learn to sacrifice, particularly, they accept “delayed gratification”

^ Adults save for rainy days and suspect there are more such days than anticipated; and climate change is not to be blamed for this

^ Adults realise it is not just what you know, but who you know – and maybe even, who wants to know you

^ Adults know how not to feel lesser when their peers are ahead of them – or, feeling conflicted that they are doing better than most people but there are still others ahead of them

^ Adults come to terms with “money is easy to earn but hard to keep” – realising that every dollar spent now is one (or more) dollar less at retirement

^ Adults accept that others will poke their noses into their love life and ask them when they are going to get married – to which they counter with “thanks for your concern, but if need be, I will marry myself”

^ Adults flow with the passing of time: when they turn 35, their parents are turning 65 – entering their final third of life – so adults in turn prepare to be care-givers, a reversal of roles.

What are some undercurrents that encourage this delay or side-stepping of adulting?

It’s so easy to blame indulgent parents. Their adult children (whether married or not, even with or without children of their own) have not flown the coop. It is more convenient, or easier, or even cheaper to stay with mum. Somehow, the fridge is always full.

It may also be that independent accommodation is hard to come by. Locally, Singapore has made home ownership a by-word largely due to the successful public housing scheme (HDB). But there’s no denying that the cost of real estate is high.

Importantly, some young adults are delaying taking on wider and heavier responsibilities simply because they can. There is less urgency or pressure for them to contribute to family finances and/or build the national economy. Changes and challenges are already so rapid both qualitatively and quantitatively and keeping pace is patently exhausting. Make this one less item to worry about.

How to encourage adulting? Basically, understand the nature of things and stages in life’s journey. Based on a biblical expression, milk-drinkers shall proceed to be meat-eaters. Pastor Dan Nehrbass explains: “Hebrews 5:13,14 similarly states that solid food is of greater value than milk. This author indicates that solid food is characterized by the ability to distinguish between good and evil.”

God intends in the large scheme of things that we enjoy progressing from stage to stage as appropriate.

We start with babyhood to childhood to youthhood then adulthood and finally to seniorhood. And then death (or promotion, as we have been taught to view it). God intends in the large scheme of things that we enjoy progressing from stage to stage as appropriate. But in Catherine Winter’s view, death may be terrifying:

“To grow up means that they’re adults. Once they’re adults, they have to acknowledge that they’re aging. Aging means growing old. Growing old means that they’re going to die. Although death is part of the natural life cycle for every living thing, death-denying Western culture cherishes youth and beauty, and vilifies old age. Death is something to be battled against, denied, ignored, not dealt with at all.”

Aging is an inescapable tenet of life. Adulthood is a whole new world which may be frustrating and stressful but that’s where our potential is released.

As the hymn reminds: “All the way, my Saviour leads me …”. All the way! How much further is that?

Go on, grow up to it. Yes, you’re made for it.

Dr Andrew Goh is the honorary editor of Impact magazine.


VOL. 45 NO. 6 of IMPACT Magazine

SO MUCH MORE THAN 9 TO 5... Why workplace adulting is really all about maturity by Lynette Lim-Teagle

HELP, IT'S ADULTING!... Facing expectations and failures by Joel Sim

CANCEL CULTURE... Responding to judgmentalism with grace by Darius Lee

CANCEL OR BE CANCELLED?... The power of the gospel by Mary Yeo-Carpenter


~ The IMPACT Panel Responds ~

HOW MUCH GRANDER CAN IT GET?... Perspective on grandparenting by Andrew Goh


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