GROWING UP WITH YOUR KIDS
Parents storm at their kids, “When are you going to grow up?”
Kids whine to each other, “I can’t wait till I’m all grown up.”
Adults roll their eyes at peers who lick lollipops: “He’s forty years old and refuses to grow up.”
Everyone’s goal should be to keep growing up in the best sense, throughout their lifetimes. Here’s a challenge for parents: every month or year, set a growing-up goal for yourself that mirrors ways your kids are growing up.
But in truth, the common idea of “growing up”—that someday we cross a line into total freedom, total responsibility, total competence—is a common fallacy. No one is ever all grown up, and those who think they are are the most immature of all, no matter if they’re seventy-three years old.
If Your Children Are Toddlers or Preschoolers
- Stretch yourself physically: do ten additional reps, train for a half marathon.
- Assert your independent thinking: approach a challenge differently from the way your family/workplace/peer group always does it.
- Expand your vocabulary: learn a new word, and work it into ordinary conversation, every day.
If Your Children Are in Elementary School
- Expand your reading skills: work your way through a literary or theological classic that requires slow going for comprehension.
- Do as child-friendly schools do: incorporate longer “recess” periods, with physical activity, into your workday routine.
- Take yourself on a field trip: a museum, a concert, a farm or factory. If any places from your childhood field trips are nearby, visit them again and see what’s changed.
If Your Children Are Starting Middle School
- Add a “changing classes” theme to your routine: take your coffee outside instead of staying in the break room, stop by the gym before going home.
- Take up an “extracurricular” activity: join a club or volunteer program. (Meetup.com is a good resource for finding options—or check library/community center bulletin boards.)
- Make a friend from another part of town—or another country.
If Your Children Are in the Puberty Years
- Meet with your doctor to make a long-term plan for coping with changes in your body.
- Pinpoint one area in life where you have difficulties with impulse control, and make a written-and-scheduled plan for replacing a bad habit with a good one.
- Schedule a semi-monthly romantic date with your spouse.
If Your Children Are in the Driving-Age Range
- Take a defensive-driving or auto-maintenance course.
- While your teenagers enjoy the latest dancing and music styles, expand your own musical horizons: take up ballroom dancing, invest in season tickets to the symphony, take a music-appreciation course that explores styles from various generations and cultures.
- While helping your kids plan for life after high school, start your own planning (and saving) for the empty-nest years: an advanced degree of your own, a trip around the world, any big dream long deferred.
Joyful growth years to you all!