We’ve all been told at some point in our life to grow up. Theoretically meaning that we needed to become mature and responsible adults. However, it is often a toxic remark. Think about a time you were told to “grow up” and reflect on how it made you feel and what you believed they were referring to.
2 Toxic Examples: Adam & Sarah
Adam is 10 and comes home after playing baseball with his friends because they called him names and made fun of his poor playing. His father tells him to grow up, that he’s not a baby anymore and that life is tough. Adam likely feels his father is justifying the others’ behavior, not empathizing or understanding how Adam feels, and certainly not someone he would want to open up to in the future.
Sarah is 12 and being outwardly grumpy, rude, and pouting because her friends didn’t follow any of her ideas and suggestions for how they spent the day. Her mother tells her to grow up, that she can’t expect to always get her way and that she needs to think about other people. Sarah likely feels her mother is taking sides against her, doesn’t understand her and that she is being judged.
To be nurturing it is important to address the concern without judgment. In the case of Adam one might acknowledge how hurtful it is to be ridiculed and share that even if it’s common, it’s not good or appropriate behavior. It can also be a good space to talk about feelings and how we express them.
In the case of Sarah, acknowledge that it can feel sad or hurtful that our opinions don’t seem to matter or that being ignored is rough. It is a good space to talk about the appropriate expression of feelings, especially feelings of hurt and/or anger.