Aren’t You A Little Old For That?

hen our kids mess up we say: Aren’t you a little old for that? And we have all sorts of rules of thumb for what things are age appropriate or not—what age they should stop having accidents, ​what age they should stop throwing a tantrum just because they’re tired​, what age it stops being okay for other people to have to pick up after them.

You’re too old to act this way. It’s time to grow up.

But, unfortunately, we apply this standard to ourselves less often. Whether it’s as serious as an affair or as silly as getting hangry because you neglected to eat, we seem to forget that we should be policing ourselves first. Our kids are at least still kids, even when they’re acting a bit beneath their age. You’re an adult. What excuse do you have?

“We ought not willingly add to old age, which has many of its own problems, the shame of misbehaviors.” That’s ​Cato the Elder​, who seems to have really lived up to that second part of his name. Remind yourself today and every day that you are getting older, that it’s time to grow out of these silly habits you’ve allowed yourself to fall into. Remind yourself that you’re too old to act out, to stoop this low, to not be responsible for yourself.

It doesn’t matter if other people are willing to let you get away with it—because you’re a success in your field, because you have a patient spouse, because you’re in private—what matters is that you shouldn’t let yourself get away with it. You’re too old to act out. And even if you weren’t, remember your kids are always watching—​a little fellow follows you​—so act like the adult that they believe you are.

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