Using adult as a verb has become commonplace in the last few years. Type it into a hashtag search on Instagram or Twitter and you’ll see that most posts are negative, showing the mundane and tedious aspects of adult life such as paying bills and even going to work.
It concerns me that our next generation of adults, Generation Z or iGen, are putting off becoming an adult as they are afraid of growing up. Us as parents are doing too much for them. Our lion and lioness need to protect them and keep them safe is not preparing them for adult life.
When I was a teenager I could not wait to leave home and live with my friends and earn money, and this was a common feeling amongst my peers. This is no longer the case for the snowflake’ generation.
So can we fully blame social media and the overuse of ‘adulting’? Perhaps not. However, it is part of a bigger picture of what is happening in our culture right now. We live in an age where children are as safe as they have ever been; we don't let them play out in the streets unsupervised, we don't let them walk home alone from school, we give them smartphones so they can contact us in case of emergency. I am not saying that we shouldn't be doing any of these things. Of course we must keep our kids safe. However we also need to make them feel empowered, capable, brave and self-sufficient.
Sir Anthony Seldon, political historian and educationalist wrote that
“The way to improve mental health is to help young people to recognize that they are moral agents who are responsible for their own levels of happiness or unhappiness. I think we infantilise our young people and we make them into victims by making them feel they have no efficacy. If you blame conditions, blame other people for your unhappiness, the unhappiness will continue.”
We need to empower our young people. We need to give them the confidence to know that they can get stuff done. They need to be reassured pressure and stress is OK, in fact it’s a normal part of life. Failure too is ok. The sky will not fall in if their target grade at school is not met that term.
Making sure that you show up, work out and try different strategies to solve problems, look fear in the eye and do it anyway will encourage mental resilience.
If we teach our kids this growth mindset then we will help them to look forward to becoming an adult rather than putting it off for as long as possible. Let’s help them look forward to the bright future that they deserve.