Adulting Is About Responsibility


An essay in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal Senator Ben Sasse (R, Nebraska) is worth reading for some tips on raising children capable of becoming adults, as well as for the encouragement to even try.  This paragraph stood out for me, echoing my experience as a carpenter:

I don’t mean to suggest that there are no hard workers among young people now. But “work” is more than advancement in school. Our children need to appreciate not just the privilege they enjoy in being free from the demands of physical labor but also—especially—their own capacity to fix the messes that life will throw at them.

It was a revelatory moment for me, in my development as a builder, when I realized that I was the guy folks might call to fix the sorts of mistakes I might make.  Yes, a mistake would cost time and maybe some additional materials, but I wasn’t going to fall into some spiral of error falling into an irreparable catastrophe.  A novelist could even put a truism in the mouth of a wizened old tradesman:  “Well, if we break it, we’ll just have to fix it.”

As Sasse points out, that principle applies to life generally.  You’re an adult when you realize that you’re the person who can and should fix things, keep things orderly, take care of things.  It doesn’t require perfection, and it does sometimes lead to hardship, but “adulting,” as the kids are calling it, means we take responsibility for resolving the problems of life, because there’s nobody else.

  • stuckinRI

    “take responsibility for resolving the problems of life, because there’s nobody else” – that about sums it up.
    “Take responsibility for your own actions” also comes to mind.