There were a lot of rules about being a real grown-up, that mythical creature known as a Responsible Adult. And of course, it was important to be a Responsible Adult, and the primary purpose of childhood was preparation for future Responsible Adulthood. Nothing mattered more. Of course.
Rules About Friends, Relationships, and Socializing:
- You don't really have more friends than you can count on two hands. Maybe one hand. If you do, you are a shallow person with too much time on those hands, and besides, they aren't your real friends. They might be neighbors, or co-workers, or people you see at some place you go to regularly. They are not your friends. Stop calling them friends.
- However, if you don't have any close friends, there is something deeply and terribly wrong with you, and you need to fix it and find yourself a best friend.
- As for romantic relationships, the best kind is one that primarily exists so you can say you're dating (or engaged to, or married to) someone, and therefore get other people to stop bothering you about it.
- It is really best to wait until you're married to have sex, mostly because birth control fails and marriage is the only way to be sure he won't run out on you and leave you with the kid and no child support. Sure, he can leave and divorce you, but at least that has to go through a court.
- Expect little from your spouse/partner other than sexual fidelity and lack of physical abuse. Always be ready to be self-sufficient, no matter what.
- It's OK if you're gay, as long as you don't make a big deal about it. Your relationships should still look just like heterosexual relationships, except with a member of the same sex, and whatever legal paperwork needs doing filed in lieu of marriage (since same-sex marriage was not possible in the time of Little cheshire23). It's not OK if you "can't make up your mind if you're gay or straight."
- Go ahead and join community groups that interest you. But remember, most of these people are not your friends. One or two of them might possibly become friends, someday.
- This includes a religious organization of your choice, if you prefer. Although a detached, polite agnosticism is the most likely belief for a Truly Responsible Adult, being a semi-observant member of an undemanding Judeo-Christian branch, preferably the one you were raised in, might also be OK.
Rules About Having Kids:
- You don't have to have kids. However, if you're unexpectedly pregnant - hopefully within a marriage, because you did wait, right? - you should have the kid. Abortion needs to be legal so that irresponsible people don't have kids, but you're a responsible person and should do the right thing.
- Your kid is your responsibility, except when left with a caregiver you are paying for. Don't ever depend on any relative, even the kid's other parent, for reliable child care. Maybe in a real emergency, call on one of your tiny handful of Real Friends. Otherwise, it's either you or a paid babysitter 24/7/365 until the kid is at least of sufficient age that nobody'll call CPS about the kid being home alone.
- Don't have more kids than you can afford to give exactly the childhood opportunities that you want them to have.
- Adoption is an option, especially international or out of foster care, especially sibling groups because keeping siblings together is a nice thing to do.
- Above all, remember this: If your son or daughter reaches the age of majority and is not a Responsible Adult by all of these rules, that probably means you aren't one either, unless there is a physical or developmental disability that is clearly not your fault or your son's or daughter's fault involved. (Yes, even if they're adopted and had traumatic situations in their prior lives. "Bad childhoods" are just excuses for The Irresponsible to hide behind anyway. Mental illness doesn't count unless it's so bad that a person has to be hospitalized long-term, and maybe not even then.)
Rules About Education and Employment:
- You should have a job, or be actively looking for one, at all times.
- No matter what.
- Except maybe if you're in college on a full scholarship in your earliest adulthood, and even then you should still have a part-time job to get work experience for later jobs.
- If you go to college, you should major in something clearly useful for which there is a job market. Preferably something involving hard sciences.
- You should not major in social sciences, even if you're good at them, even if they are what you love, because those are useless "people skills" which are things that Irresponsible and Incompetent People hide behind their claims to possess.
- College is not for socializing. Remember what we said before about real friends?
- You don't have to go to college, anyway. But if you don't, you should learn a skilled trade.
- Entry-level service jobs do not "count" unless they are a part-time or second job to earn extra money while you go to school or work another job more related to your choice of career.
- This includes child care, which yes, is kind of contradictory to the "it's all you or a paid caregiver" point made previously. It's your job to undo whatever "incompetent people person" brainwashing your kid gets from the paid babysitters.
- Work is not for socializing either.
- You should never be less than completely productive at work. No matter what is wrong with you, it has nothing to do with your job, and even if it does, it's still your job to do your job 100% of the time, every time.
- Don't call in sick unless a doctor has verified that you're sick.
- Unless you are contagious or your workplace demands medical clearance for you to return to work, only take half of the recovery time the doctor says you need.
- Never, ever, ever voluntarily leave a job without another one lined up. No matter what is wrong with your workplace.
Rules About Your Health:
- Do what your doctor says. He (or she) knows more than you.
- Don't get fat. Ever. Because then ANYTHING medically wrong with you is 110% your fault.
- Mental illness is either a catastrophic emergency that can't be avoided or an excuse of Irresponsible People.
- Don't ever, EVER, even once, smoke a cigarette or take any illegal drugs.
- Alcohol is OK but don't drink to get drunk, except maybe once or twice so you know what it feels like and why you shouldn't do it.
- Food has moral value. Responsible adults eat responsible adult foods 90% of the time or more.
- You need to exercise, but you don't need to enjoy it.
Rules About Your Home:
- Live by yourself unless you are married. Not engaged - married - or have filed the closest equivalent paperwork as a same-sex couple. This means that a roommate can't screw you over - remember, roommates aren't your friends either, and if you moved in with a real friend that's probably the end of that friendship. Don't waste real friendships that way.
- You must save anything valuable that a family member gave to you, or anything useful that just needs a little bit of work to fix.
- You must keep your house clean, but hate it the whole time, because truly enjoying domestic chores (except maybe cooking) is a sign that your feminist consciousness is lacking.
- Don't live in a large city. Especially not the inner city where the criminals and people on welfare and other Irresponsible People live.
- However, don't live ten miles from anywhere if you can't afford to buy a car outright and keep it in perfect shape. Live on a busline, just not in the inner city.
Rules About Your Money:
- Don't buy anything on credit except your house on a mortgage. Maybe student loans if you truly have no other option at all to get through college, because times have changed and working one's way through college is not the simple prospect it used to be. Maybe a simple and sensible and economical car if you truly have no other alternative to get to and from work and will lose your job without a replacement car.
- Don't spend money on your appearance. You should look professional and modest, but not fashionable. Fashion is for shallow and irresponsible people.
- Put lots of money in savings, just in case. You don't want to turn into one of those irresponsible people if you lose your job for a reason that isn't actually your fault.
- Feel free to silently judge people whose economic priorities don't match yours, especially when misfortune befalls them. They are irresponsible!
- Help irresponsible people if you feel like it, but only if you can make them feel the shame of their irresponsibility.
- Give to charities, preferably ones that benefit animals or people who truly have no blame for their unfortunate situations.
To Sum Up:
- Always make the right, responsible, decisions. If you don't, understand that it may be a long time (if ever) before Responsible Adults will recognize you as one of them. And you have only yourself to blame.