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Why I Don’t Like Adults

My son Thomas, 9, said “Hey daddy, you know why I don’t like adults? Well, some adults anyway?” “No, why?” I asked. “Because they think they’re better than me. They think they know everything – that they have all the answers, and that my opinion isn’t important,” he replied.

“You’re right, Thomas,” I said. And he is.

Too often adults think they know what’s best for children. Rather than ask for their input or opinion, we assume a position of superiority. We disregard their needs, wishes, and desires as trivial.

This is not to suggest our kids should run wild, or that we should not keep them safe. It’s just that we command instead of guide. We demand instead of suggest. We direct instead of lead. We assume instead of understand. We “parent” instead of listen.

Like most kids, I grew up being told when to get up, when to go to bed, when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat. I was told what to wear, how to wear it, and when to wear it. This may sound normal – it is, in the domination system – the “might-is-right” mentality.

This system is rarely questioned. It’s  just how things are done. My son was merely pointing it out. Kids are smart – way smarter than they’re given credit for. They see the error in our ways, and work very hard to express a better point of view. But we do not listen.

Kids are fantastic teachers. They teach us about life, love, relationships, creativity, passion, community. They scream it all. We don’t hear it, despite the frequency. They say: Can we play? Can I sleep in your bed tonight? Can I come with you? Let’s build a fort. Let’s play a game. Let’s play dress up. Let’s be silly.

And then, one day, from the lack of response and repeated denial, they stop.

We live in a world where work, money, success, and status outweigh life, love, relationships, creativity, passion, and community. We know this. We see this. We cry about it silently when the full weight of what’s been lost hits us.

But then we say, kids can’t be right, can they? We assume that they’ll grow out of this silly “kid stuff” like we did.

Let’s hope not. In fact, let’s jump in. Our kids teach us to dream with no limits, to reach our highest potential, to be free, to be free of inhibition, to relax, to love unconditionally, to smell the roses, to live in the present, to live in a fun-filled-now. This is a child’s natural way.

I would argue that God’s greatest teacher, Jesus, invites us into something very similar. He called it the “kingdom of  heaven.” It’s a “relationship system” with God, where one’s life will overflow with passion, power, creativity, love, and community. It’s the Good News that few understand. But kids do.

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson

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Comments

  1. Matt Millard says:

    When I was a Youth Pastor, one of the running jokes was that we were in youth ministry because we couldn’t face going and being a part of Adult Church – because the excitement has been sucked out of just about every part of life by then, let alone the programs. Rules, regulations, do’s, don’ts, appropriate, inappropriate – everything reduced to two black and white categories of right and wrong – and no one can even agree what that is. The joy and excitement that are a natural part of being kids, and/or working with them, are replaced with the more adult friendly responsibility and common sense – and any remaining bit of spontinaety or fun is choked out through the nooses of legalism, tradition – and many more. If you want a good read – pick up Mike Yaconelli’s Dangerous Wonder – which beg’s each reader to re-discover the passion of the Child-Like Faith that Jesus himself calls us to live out and experieince as we journey with God and each other.

  2. Dee Schell says:

    Great read! Thanks Ted (and Matt!) for putting into words and reminding us of what we probably all thought as a child. That is how my parents were, particularly my father. And he still is that way, at least with my siblings and I. We are now all in our 20s and 30s, since of us with kids of our own, and he continues to treat us as if we don’t know what we’re doing and he knows best. (He will still ask us throughout a trip to the mall, every time we pass a restroom, if we need to go. I haven’t had an “accident” in 29 years, but he hasn’t seemed to notice.) My prayer is that I will continue to learn from things like that/this as my children grow, and not repeat my history for them. Children should not be reprimanded for asking questions, as I often was. “Because I said so,” is not an acceptable, nor appropriate, answer for a child of any age. They deserve the opportunity to learn about the world around them, and what better teacher than their own parents?! I held onto a lot of bitterness for quite some time. I’m still learning to forgive, and let go, but I’m afraid to forget for fear of making the same mistakes.

    • Ted Olson says:

      Dee –

      Thank you for your comment! I love this – it’s such a vivid picture: (He will still ask us throughout a trip to the mall, every time we pass a restroom, if we need to go. I haven’t had an “accident” in 29 years, but he hasn’t seemed to notice.)

      ~ Ted

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