When we were kids we looked at grown ups with wide eyes.
“Man it’s going to be so cool when I’m grown up!”, we all said.
“What the hell is that big bushy thing on my Dad’s face that feels scruffy? I want one!” (Only if you were a guy… uh, I guess?)
“What’s the big thing on wheels my parent’s are driving? That’s so awesome!”
“What’s that liquid stuff my parents drink that makes them act silly when they have a party with their friends but I can’t have any yet?”
But as we grow up, it usually turns into the opposite.
“I wish I was a kid again, so that I had less responsibility.”
“I wish I was a kid again, so that I didn’t have to worry about money and people took care of that for me.”
“I wish I was a kid again and life was simpler.”
“I wish I was a kid again and life was fun.”
You are still a kid inside, and have certain needs that must be taken care of. But moreover, you are a functioning adult that can do amazingly powerful things to help that kid achieve his or her dreams and desires.
How do we balance the responsibilities of being an adult and the needs of having a child inside us?
You Need To Accept That Being An Adult Comes With Added Responsibility
Yeah we’d all like to run around on the playground and not worry about money, but that’s not realistic. Growing up means you have more responsibility. Sorry, it might suck, but it is what it is.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. In fact, not learning how to play as adults cripples you in everyday life. It is essential to have fun and recharge, and it makes life far more enjoyable. If not, it can lead to anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and isolation.
Work and responsibility will expand to fill your time, so through trial and error you’ll have to find a balance between your work and errand hours, and your “fun” hours. You might also give up some fun in the short term, for more fun in the long term. For example, I know a friend who is working on a company for ungodly hours, but it is worth millions now and the net worth is only climbing. In a few years he will most likely sell it and not have to work for a very long time.
But still, it’s a balance.
Why You Need To Function As A Parent For Yourself – The Needs Of The Kid Inside
Just as we needed protection and guidance with the help of our parents as a child, we still need that now. However, it’s up to the adult side of us to take care of things and help. This would be what John Bradshaw refers to as “championing your inner child“.
What are some of these needs and how can you provide them?
- Support and consoling: Talking in a supportive way to ourselves if the kid is scared or sad, or finding someone to help us (trusted friends or therapists).
- Strength: Defending ourselves if someone is trying to hurt us. Learning about being assertive. Going to the gym to have a strong physical frame to work with.
- Basic needs:
- Hunger – If the kid is hungry, we need to feed it/we need to have money to purchase that food.
- Rest – If the kid is tired, we need to give him or her space to rest.
- Health – Taking care of pain, going to the Doctor if we are sick.
- Fun: If the kid is bored or mired from work, we need to take them to play. We need to find activities that bring joy into their lives.
- Discipline and focus: There’s no way I’d get work done if I didn’t find ways to keep myself accountable or ways to productively work without screwing around so much. Finding out how to work with procrastination.
- Friends and relationships: A kid needs play mates. Otherwise, life is kind of boring… and lonely.
- The desire for adventure and freedom: A life without adventure is a wasted life, you need to take your kid to new places and to show them new experiences. No child wants to be locked somewhere under tight surveillance.
Being An Adult Is Awesome Too!
Sure, having to work for things suck. Responsibilities can be annoying as well… But oh my God there is so much we can do as adults! We can try out different activities like flyboarding. We can travel to far away places. We can take our life in the direction we want it to go in slowly but surely.
There is so much we can do, and as a kid, you just can’t. That’s part of the awesome-ness that goes with being a grown up 🙂
So take care of your responsibilities, but don’t forget to listen to that child’s voice inside you. Don’t forget to take care of him or her.
And don’t forget to take breaks and play.
A final thing to note is that a lot of defences and how people act were learned in childhood and are still used. What do you think of when someone has a tantrum? Seems like a kid that stomps around complaining, right? That’s not how an adult should deal with a situation.
What about non-directness in your emotions or going behind someone’s back? Again, we’d probably call that childish as well. We have to accept though that many people still and will always act this way, and we need to distance ourselves from them.
These typically occur when unpleasant emotions arise. Instead of communicating feelings directly, defences come out such as retreating away into isolation, blame and so on. Learning how to use I statements to communicate in arguments is a first step in getting past this, and there are many resources in learning how to constructively deal with disputes. See one such article here.