Wednesday, December 2, 2015

“Oh, Grow Up!” The Real Difference Between a Man-Child or Woman-Child and a “Grown-Up”

What is it that differentiates the man-child or woman-child from the grown man or woman? Is it how they behave or how they dress? Is it what they do for a living or what kind of car they drive? I have been pondering this question as I enter into a time of my life where I finally realize I’ve not known what it really meant to be a “grown-up.” I ponder it as I watch my children grow from teenagers into young adults.

There are a lot of woman/man-children in the world. Perhaps there always have been; certainly it seems that it’s the result of human nature. We are a selfish, self-centered lot. We seek to serve ourselves first, often to the detriment of those around us. When we are children, this behavior is expected. Some of the first words we speak as children are “no” “mine” or “me,” until we begin to be aware of others around us. We are taught to share, yet we continue to first serve ourselves.

As we mature, we come to recognize the needs and desires of others. That’s where we begin the process of becoming men and women. It’s also about the time we are in complete control of our response to outside influences. Yet, it becomes continuously more difficult to do. Advertising comes at us full-force, telling us what we are supposed to look like, what we’re supposed to do, and how we are supposed to live. We seek to become what we believe society expects of us.

Our influences come from the advertising, our upbringing, and our peers. Some of us get caught up in the outer means of reflecting who we are, and we expect others to do the same. We think that as we grow up we need to give up certain behaviors, certain fashions, certain hobbies and take on new, often more expensive ones. At the same time, we forget that there are more important indicators of maturity.

It is not the games we play, the clothes we wear, or the company we keep that make us “grown-up.” It’s the way we respond to the world. It’s how we take responsibility for ourselves and our own decisions. It’s how we share with others when others are in need.
In her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Ann Voskamp points out that we have “response” “abilities.” We need to use our abilities to respond to life appropriately. We need to do things like pick up after ourselves, acknowledge the help we get from others (and accept that help gracefully), be respectful of others and their way of looking at the world, and we need to be responsible for those who count on us. That includes being responsible for ourselves. As men and women, we are to use our “abilities” for appropriate “response” to what happens in our lives.

People who reach a certain age might think that they’re men or women simply because they have celebrated a magic numbered birthday. They might do “grown-up” things like a regular job, go out for dancing and drinks, read books, or watch “adult” television (as opposed to animated television). They might eschew Pokémon or Batman and the like as “childish.” These life activities have nothing to do with their status as men/women-children.

Man-children and woman-children expect others to take care of everything for them. When things go wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. They seek self-satisfaction in all they do, without regard for the feelings of those who are affected by their behavior. When someone responds to their behavior negatively, they throw tantrums or whine that nobody understands them, the world is out to get them, and by golly, they’re going to do (or buy) something fun to make themselves feel better.  Even when they know that something they do affects others negatively, they continue the behavior because it makes them feel better.

Grown women and men might be into watching things like Dr. Who, reading fantasy books by authors like Neil Gaiman, and playing games like Dragon Age. They might enjoy going to the Renaissance Festival or Comic-Con. They might even like spending time of Facebook. They also pick up and wash their dirty dishes. They love, take care of, and support their children, if they have any. They interact with others with respect, even if the other disagrees with them about…well, anything. They say “please” and “thank you” and they do their best to be the best kind of person they can think of. They try to curtail negative behavior because they don't want the people they love to be hurt by what they do. They use their “response-abilities” to respond appropriately to what happens in their lives.

I’m doing my best to be a woman instead of a woman-child. It takes some doing. It’s easier to feel sorry for myself and wait for others to give me what I need, even when I am able to do for myself. Lots of people do it. I give thanks every day that I am empowered by the feeling I get from doing for myself, so I can be available to do for others who are unable to do for themselves. I know a lot of man-children and woman-children. For them, I hope that one day soon they become aware of their situation, and learn to stand on their own two feet. When they do, may they reach out to others and find the power of giving.

Though men and women do for themselves, they don’t do it all alone. They just do their part. When everyone does their own part, the world is a much easier place to navigate.

Being a full grown adult doesn't mean you don't get to have fun.
You just have to take care of the business too!

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