Monthly Archives: December 2014

Growing Up

Why Growing Up Is Hard to Do (But Why the World Still Needs Adults)

When people say they don’t want to embrace adulthood, what they really mean is that they don’t want to be a grownup themselves, but they want to live in a world where everyone else is […] They want the world to be stable, predictable…so they can afford to be erratic and irresponsible. They want to be kids, but live in an adult world, where grownups are at the ready to take care of their every need.

Traits associated with maturity

  1. Personal responsibility
  2. Embracing the role of creator, rather than simply being a consumer.
  3. The ability to delay gratification
  4. self-control
  5. Critical thinking skills
  6. A good degree of self-reliance
  7. Responsibilities not only to oneself, but to others as well.

Why it’s harder to grow up today…

  1. The veneration of youth. Thus, the first obstacle to growing up is a fear that embracing an adult sensibility will turn us into close-minded, unoriginal dolts.
  2. Rather than gradually being initiated into the world of adults, we’re often expected to take on mature responsibilities all at once
  3. The abundance of choice. It’s hard to leave behind the feeling of being special, to admit one’s limitations, and to choose a course for one’s life, knowing that doing so may shut the door on other options.
  4. Isolation and the Loss of Tribe. The weight of adulthood feels hard to shoulder when you’re carrying it alone, instead of with a tribe.
  5. A Culture of Consumerism. There exists a large gap between the experience we gain in creation growing up, and the amount of creation required of us as adults.
  6. The Negative Portrayal of Adulthood in Popular Culture: it’s depicted in popular culture as grinding and miserable.

Economically ‘worthless’ but emotionally ‘priceless’

American kids in the Age of Oil

Farm and craft work gave children practice for supporting themselves as adults, teaching them valuable skills and a work ethic that gave them confidence.


Instead of workers expected to contribute to the family business according to their abilities, kids morphed into mere adornments — something like pets with a promising future.


Today, the American nuclear family gets its education from school, its entertainment from movies and TV and its advice from social media. That leaves old people with few economic roles in the family outside of cheap babysitters and providers of (hopefully) expensive gifts at birthdays and Christmas.


In contrast to most of American history, today both the elderly and children are free-riders in the family economy. But while parents lavish adoration on even the brattiest kids, those same parents are more likely to show annoyance to their own elderly parents who may need help.


But whether comfortable or poor and lonely, today’s older Americans know that expecting their adult kids to support them merely out of affection or duty promises about as much security as planning to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Young Minds

Could Do Better: Why we must set young mind free

How should he lay plans for a life-path into a future characterised by ecological disintegration and loss, and by sporadic, violent societal convulsions as the sickening realisation that our species has conspired to destroy its own habitat sinks in?

What line should he follow in order to gain skills and knowledge that might facilitate some meaningful contribution to this world-on-the-brink, while keeping himself fed, housed, possibly even happy?

Blah Blah

The apprenticeships are unashamedly geared to vocations in the “industrial world” – a world that depends on cheap energy, lax pollution legislation, an abundant, never-ending supply of minerals and fresh water, and an infinitely large landfill hole in which to dump billions of toxic, obsolete products each year.

[…] Even if it offers careers in the short term, the long-term is considerably more shaky, to say nothing of soul-destroying: where is the satisfaction in working for the pointless, hopeless goal of contributing to consumption rates until the planet can’t take it any more?

Blah Blah

proof of competence comes from feats of memory, and modernity and growth go largely unchallenged.

Blah Blah

The unstated assumption is that the conveyor belts are all working fine, and a cheerfully unquestioning outlook of hard work and compliance will bring fulfilling working lives for all.

Blah Blah

Being grateful for having one of the least bad jobs in a system of accelerating destruction and inequity is neither individually nor societally empowering.

Blah Blah

I want them to know, before they get strapped into debt and career ladders and blinded by business bullshit, that the world out there is theirs and that they must grasp it.

Blah Blah

“That would entail resetting the global economic system so that young people are largely employed in locally-focused, eco-restorative livelihoods!”

Blah Blah

I didn’t need to tell [my youngest son] that school is a factory; he knows that. He knows how it feels to have to ask permission to move. He knows that much of the natural world is dying. He knows that his teachers can’t see what he sees. He understands that they are no longer aware of the bars behind which they go through the motions. He indulges them in their world.

His childhood is not their childhood. Unlike many kids, my son knows all this consciously and can articulate it. His adjustment to high school could well be slow and difficult. I pray that it is incomplete.