I’m curious, is there some sort of Harvard or Stanford study on when we as human beings change? When it is that we “grow up” and what truly defines that? With the release of the new Mr. Rogers movie, it sparked an interesting thought in my head.
We spend so much time focusing on teaching our children how to “be nice”, not use bad words, share. We create TV shows like Sesame Street and Blues Clues that we plop them in front of hoping they will learn kindness, compassion and how to be a better person. Did you ever stop and wonder why we want them to watch these shows? Is it because they won’t see those examples simply by watching us? Sometimes, I wonder what the point is. I’ll watch someone who uses swear words in normal conversation, from the bar to the boardroom, berate their child for using the word “stupid”. Really? If the behavior is perfectly socially acceptable as an adult, then why isn’t it for a child? Are we just doing this because our parents did, and no-one is ready to stop the hamster wheel?
Another question, when do we get to an age where those quality shows about human kindness no longer interest us? When is it we move from Blues Clues to Sponge Bob to Melrose Place to the Bachelorette?
When you are little we punish you when displaying the slightest nod to poor behavior, and you are celebrated and rewarded when you display kind and compassionate behavior. When you are older, you are looked at weirdly if you continue to live your life that way. Trust me, I know. Sometimes I feel like an outcast as someone who doesn’t swear, doesn’t gossip, doesn’t laugh at those facebook meme's and no, I do not watch the Bachelorette, yet, I’m the weird one. All I am doing is displaying the behaviors that I was expected to display when I was 5.
So is that what being an adult is? Is that what growing up means? We lose our innocence, our curiosity, our acceptance of others. When neurologically is the switch flipped? Or is this not a natural state, but the impact of the noise that surrounds us.
In my house, we spend more time on teaching gratitude and compassion than we do on algebra homework. We reward behavior and process as much as the end result. We encourage empathy and denounce negativity, even with our teenagers. We focus on the adult we want them to become, especially as they are becoming them.
I don’t have a solution for all of this, so don’t expect an epiphany of a wrap up here. I’m just asking the questions. I promise, I’m not being judgemental. I have moments when I know I could have made better choices. I’m truly curious. If we could pin point the moment, the age, the event that happens that makes it acceptable and normal to no longer practice all the things we learned from Mr. Rogers, maybe we could really start making an impact towards that more mindful, kind world that we all say we want.
And you know what, maybe I'm not the weird one, maybe, I just never grew up.