Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Growing Up Too Soon?

Just this week I heard about a woman in California who gives her 8 year old botox injections to help her look better for her pageants. Days later I saw a news story reporting that a major clothing store is offering a push-up bra for little girls.

Now trying to get kids to act and be older than they are is nothing new. It's just that the ages seem to be lowering and the ideas to "mature" the kids are simply more bizarre.

Why the push to grow up?  Some parents clearly want to live as soon as possible through the successes of their kids so they manipulate them to dress older, perform better and take on myriad responsibilities in athletics, music and the like.

Other moms and dads are all about impressions. "My kid is going to be as good or better than yours," even though their admitting that desire is unlikely.

Third, the media (though it's not their job to parent our kids) pitches the prematurity of our children in how they produce today's music, clothing and storytelling.

So, what's the challenge.  Well, there are no rules or guidelines that can work for all children. Kids are unique in their maturity, personalities and ways of responding. However, a couple of principles are in order.

First, let them be kids for awhile. They need some time to have fun, be immature, and not be expected to take on adult responsibilities or characteristics.  Some of the things we ask young ones to do are simply too hard physically and emotionally. Long-term damage may occur. Count the cost.

Second, ask yourself who each event or activity for your child is really for.  Does your child really want to be in that contest, sport or training program?  Would they care if you stopped it?  I realize that sometimes parents have to make decisions that kids aren't mature enough to make but it's different when we're asking them to consider something really beyond their years.

Finally, relax.  Pushing our kids harder before they're ready will not make the difference that gets them into Harvard, medical school or a great job. Lots of kids never even graduate from college and become huge successes.  And isn't the most important thing to help our kids be great people, not just ones with impressive resumes?  So step back, have some fun with your kids and let them do the same.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.


  1. So - if we are pushing kids to grow up faster (I agree, society is) ... why is adolescence lasting so much longer? (You know, the 30 year old with a degree living in Mom and Dad's basment while he "writes his biography" or plays video games all hours of the night). Do humans cling to the childhood that was taken away too soon?

  2. Great question, Amanda. I'm not sure I have an easy answer but I wonder if it's not related to this issue. Some kids are "expected" to act like adults early on but never learn how to mature appropriately and at a reasonable pace. So by the time they should be taking on adult roles they simply don't know how. Their parents have made them look like adults but have not done the hard work of teaching them how to be and adult.