Is It Really Necessary To Grow Up?
Children are urged to act like adults from the moment they are conscious enough to do household chores. Many people consider childhood to be an inferior version of adulthood, an awkward younger phase that culminates with “growing up.” In this view, childhood is merely a passing state, a transient period on the way to a finished product, like food cooking in an oven.
“He’s going to grow up to be such a nice young man” is a common grandmotherly phrase. The implication is that the boy in question is on his way to something that he hasn’t reached yet. But this kind of thinking, and even the phrase “young man” itself, discounts the fact that childhood is a unique, completely discrete state of being.
There is no physiological reason why children must become adults. The cerebral changes that take place in pre-adolescence do not automatically change kids into adults; they simply allow for a more advanced level of thinking. The real reason why children act like adults is because of pressure from society. A person out of school who does not immediately seek a job is harshly judged by his neighbors. A middle-aged man who lives with his mother is an outcast. Past a certain age, you simply aren’t “allowed” to be a child anymore.
If it weren’t for that pressure, if there was no such thing as social status, and everyone were happy with themselves, then children would never have to grow up. However, this theory is nearly impossible to implement, for status is a natural result of an inherently competitive society. The only way I can think of to circumvent society and avoid adulthood is to become a hermit. Of course, that would be a poor solution because much of what we enjoy about childhood is given to us by the same society that ultimately takes it away – ice cream trucks, kind kindergarten teachers, special attention.
In truth, there is no way to avoid acting like an adult outside of the most extreme scenarios (uber-wealth, living in the wild). However, nobody can control what happens in your mind. So if you can manage, as I believe I do, to partition your brain – one section for acting like an adult during the day and another for swinging on the swings, rollicking, laughing loudly, dribbling, whining, or whatever else you liked doing as a kid – then you can, in a manner of speaking, never grow up.
Evan Bailyn is a serial entrepreneur, search engine and social media expert, celebrated author and child advocate. His company, First Page Sage, is a leader in search engine optimization and social media marketing - vastly increasing business for its clients through high SEO rankings, targeted Facebook advertising and viral videos. Evan is also the founder of the Evan Bailyn Foundation, a foundation dedicated to teaching emotional awareness to children and adults.