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Where have all the adults gone?

“My 16 year old daughter and I often wear each other’s clothes” says a 40 something acquaintance smugly, simpering at herself and her toned, lithe and spandexed image in the mirror, as we both stand next to each other in the ladies’ loo at the wedding we are attending. “My 18 year old and I are buddies first”, says another friend as he comes bounding towards us at a get-together a few days later, “Isn’t that true, son? Give me a high five” The poor child raises his hand in a desultory fashion and gets an enthusiastic clap from his grinning dad.

Everywhere I look today I see this thirsting desire to drink from the fountain of eternal youth and somehow touch the Philosopher’s stone otherwise known as botoxing , mentally remaining young, or being in touch with one’s inner child, in popular parlance!

In the continuing desire to maximize their youth and stretch the time they can continue to have “ fun”, couples today are either not having children or the job of parenting is getting outsourced to grandparents or to the school or to the live in help. Every party I attend, or afternoon lunch I go out to, I see ladies wearing tight tiny dresses which would have been more appropriate for a teenager, never mind varicose veins and lumpy thighs, and men who wear hoodies and compete with their sons at play station games and still hold onto their prized collection of toy cars and soldiers.

Personally I have nothing against people who are refusing to grow up and are firmly taking forward the maxim of 40 is the new 20 and 60 the new 40. Indeed recently for an entire period of a fortnight I religiously used a well- known brand’s night rejuvenating cream with a touching faith in its advertised abilities to make me look 26 again!

While I thoroughly applaud the sentiment and the effort that is being put behind the quest for eternal youth, equally I worry unceasingly about its outcome.

For if all of us become our children’s friend, who will become their teacher? Who will discipline them and teach them right from wrong? Who will show them the meaning of doing one’s duty and fulfilling one’s obligations? An important part of becoming an adult is accepting responsibility for ourselves and our actions and taking accountability for whatever is happening to us and around us. If we ourselves refuse to grow up and continue to see life as a party where somebody else takes the responsibility for clearing up the mess after us; how will our children learn to be any different?

In a world whose continuing desire is to be cool and young and irreverent, responsibility and duty will increasingly be seen as boring and serious. Can we really afford to boot out the solemnity that should accompany every promise we need to make and commitment we need to keep ?