Notes on Achieving Adulthood for Adultescents

When I was growing up, it seemed like the demarcation between adulthood – maturity—and adolescence and childhood was clear. College students were almost adults, and they tried to act like they were adults. Even high school seniors and juniors tried to dress, act and look like adults. Adolescence was a state to be left behind as a person became an adult. That goal seemed to recede into the past in our culture over the past generation, and it has been noted by such people as Diana West and Jean Twenge.

Some time ago I put some notes together on in my personal notebook on achieving adulthood, based upon some of my experience with the young adults I’ve dealt with at work. I don’t have any specific scriptures associated with them, although many of them could be derived from the scriptures. But much of what I’ve written is more in the way of good advice, and if I understand Colossians 3:16-17 and the book of Proverbs correctly, it’s possible for us to share wisdom graciously, as long as we know that the Word of God comes first and foremost.

Here are the kinds of things that I put down for things that need to be learned besides vocational skills and a vocational choice. I wasn’t seeing much of them in some of the young adults that I saw at work. I don’t think that this is just my own post-50 crankiness; I’ve read that adolescent irresponsibility is now becoming characteristic of young men and women well into their late 20’s. It’s being called Adultescence now, and I’m seeing these things even in some who are passing 30.

  • Learn to live and partner with another adult, to pursue common goals and activities. This should be a roommate or close relative rather than a romantic interest or another person of the opposite sex.
  • If long-term romantic relationships and marriage are part of your long-term desires and goals, learn to understand the opposite sex outside romantic situations. Observe the common and uncommon habits and characteristics of your friends and relatives of the opposite sex in your daily life, so that you can get some understanding before a romantic haze hits.
  • Learn some basics on cooking and food preparation, simply as preparation for being able to run one’s own household. Learn also how to clean and take care of your home, starting with your first dorm room and apartment.
  • Learn how to handle money by following a budget, paying your bills on time, finding appropriate insurance and long term investments and retirement savings, looking for bargains and working and saving ahead for major purchases.
  • Learn how to take care of your own health by diet and exercise, scheduling physical checkups and dental checkups, and following the advice of your physician and dentist.
  • Learn how to dress appropriately for a professional setting and follow daily hygiene. This would include being comfortable in a suit and tie for a man, and the corresponding business formal attire for a woman.
  • Learn how to improve your vocational situation by deepening and broadening your skills and experience with people and with your areas of competence; achieve promotions by deserving the promotion.
  • Learn respect for others, and how to work with those who are different from you.
  • Learn respect for the property of others also. Don’t damage or destroy what is not yours intentionally or through negligence. If you do damage something which isn’t yours, attempt to provide compensation. If you borrow something, remember to return it, and return it in the same condition or better than when you borrowed it.
  • Learn respect for the privacy of others. The heartbreaks and embarrassments of others are matters for compassion and confidentiality, and are not necessarily things that you need to know.
  • Learn respect for the time and schedules of others, by punctuality and sending regrets and cancellations if unable to keep an appointment.
  • Learn respect for the feelings of others, by avoiding unfair fighting, lashing out at trivial offenses or rudely refusing mild suggestions.
  • Learn respect for the convictions and opinions of others even where you disagree. A difference of opinion is not a reason to begin a relentless battle of wills, and scorning, baiting, ridiculing and browbeating someone with whom you disagree does not lend credibility or any weight of persuasion to your position, but the opposite.
  • Learn how to broaden your interests and understanding by asking questions, being willing to learn new things, and being willing to continue to try again if you meet with any kind of initial failures.

It’s possible that these are lessons that some of us had to learn later in life, since since young college educated adults may seem to think to have a corner on the intellectual answers, that they don’t get the answers that they need in practical things of daily life.

In a previous post I dealt with the obsessive focus on Foolish Fixups among many in the church. There’s more that I’m going to write on the subject, but what I’ve put down here deals with factors that influence what the leaders and people in the church rarely focus on when dealing with their own adolescent and post adolescent children, and single adults in the church: marriageability. Those with foolish fixup obsessions usually never consider working with them to make wise decisions on their own and to prepare themselves for a growing and lifelong marriage. Rather, they seem rather to care more about trying to make a life changing decision for someone else whom they may know superficially. The real need might rather be to some conversations with some wise, confidential advice, counsel and correction about getting beyond adultescence into adulthood, and achieving marriageability (which is a desirable state even for someone who feels called to lifelong singleness).

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