Lots of people reading this were told they were “old souls” when they were kids.
They were told they didn’t ACT like children. They were so much more mature.
For a lot of us, it made us feel special. After all, when we’re kids, we really WANT to be more grown up, don’t we? A lot of us do, anyway.
When we’re kids, we’re often reinforced for acting like grown ups. For reining in our big reactions. For using big words. For attempting to interact with adults like we, ourselves, were adults.
Sometimes the adults around us thought it was cute or endearing.
But some of the adults around us kind of let themselves forget that, no matter how grown up we acted or seemed, we were still kids.
Some adults used the fact that we did’t seem like kids as an invitation or an excuse to relate to us in ways that adults shouldn’t relate to kids.
No matter how mature a child is, kids are not wired to relate to adults in ways that adults should only relate to other adults.
Kids are not psychologically or physiologically wired to engage with adults romantically or sexually.
Kids are not wired to replace adults in family constellations.
Kids are not wired to take on the emotional or relational burdens that adults take on in relationships.
Kids cannot consent to adult roles and responsibilities in relationships with adults— even if a precocious kid says they can or they want to.
There is a subset of adults who don’t understand or agree with this.
They truly think that if a kid seems okay with something, or if a kid is resilient enough to endure something, then what’s the problem?
Because a kid is resilient, because a kid has seemed to “grow up fast,” because a kid seems so much more like an adult than other kids their age, does not mean they’re ready or capable to “be” an adult in relationships.
You should not have been put in that position.
And it’s not your fault that you were put in that position— even if you went out of your way to act like an adult.
Adults are responsible for understanding that kids are not— and cannot be— adults.
Adults are responsible for seeing past what a mature-for-their-age kid looks like or how a kid with an “old soul” acts— and remembering that children are children.
It was not on you to remind the adults around you that you were just a kid.
It was on them to understand and remember it.
If the adults around you did not respect the fact that you were a kid, it’s likely you were put in positions you never should have been put in.
That’s not your fault.
Now that we’re adults, we have to sort through the ways our childhoods were not respected— and I don’t mean the “magic” of an “ideal” childhood.
I mean adults around us who understood what kids need and what kids can and cannot do.
I mean adults who did not push you into adult situations or roles for their own reasons.
I mean adults who cared about you not being put into situations that you were not psychologically or physically equipped to handle.
This is not about treating children with kid gloves.
This is about treating children like children.
You shouldn’t have had to worry about the adults around you forgetting or not respecting the fact that you were a child.
It’s not your fault.
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