Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Kidults is related to the concept of Puer Aeternus. Below is an explanation from Wikipedia:
Puer Aeternus is Latin for eternal child, used in mythology to designate a child-god who is forever young; psychologically it refers to an older man whose emotional life has remained at an adolescent level, usually coupled with too great a dependence on the mother. The puer typically leads a provisional life, due to the fear of being caught in a situation from which it might not be possible to escape. He covets independence and freedom, chafes at boundaries and limits, and tends to find any restriction intolerable.
In simple English, kidults are those who resist the idea of being an adult, and its associated responsibilities.  Urban Dictionary actually has a good definition of kidults:
A so-called grown-up who doesn't want to grow up (or at least act like an adult) and would instead prefer so-called "children's" stuff for entertainment, like cartoons, toys, comic books, Disney movies, etc. He or she also enjoys colorful "kiddie" snacks like breakfast cereal and Spaghetti-O's and dresses like a teenager or perhaps younger. May or may not be great parents as well as being able to take on adult responsibilities. Not necessarily too immature at least in the public.
A few years ago, I first came across this term, kidults, at work when a client wanted to look for kidults and "otaku" (a Japanese term referring to those who are obsessed with video games, manga, anime and other toys) for a study.  Since then, I have often been bewildered by how widespread this phenomenon was nowadays.  Grown men no longer want to be men, they think of themselves as boys, and want to remain boys forever.  Think Peter Pan.....

At work, I often come across men in their 20's or even early 30's who have absolutely no idea where they see themselves in a few years' time.  Just recently I interviewed this "man" (boy?) who could not assure me that he wanted the challenge in the job opportunity we were discussing.  So I, being the interviewer, had to counsel the boy saying,"I want you to go home tonight and ask yourself what you want to be a few years from now.  Visualize what you will be wearing, what you will be doing at work, how much you will be making.  Do that, then think about what you need to start doing now to help you get there.  Ask yourself if this opportunity in my team can help you get there.  It's fine if you can't answer me now.  Think about it at home and tell me tomorrow."  He smiled at me innocently, nodded, and told me he would think about it.  The day after, he wrote me an email, thanking me for the insightful conversation which led him to think about his future (possibly for the first time in his life).  I had had similar conversations with 2 other male candidates months ago, asking them what type of lifestyle they wanted to have in their 30's if they were still going out with their current girlfriends.  I am the youngest in my family, and have absolutely no idea why I need to assume the role of an elder sister at work.

Today I interviewed a "man" who was the same age as me, but less senior in title.  When we asked him whether he had any other concerns, he said,"well actually there is one thing - will I need to wear a suit to work everyday?"  I told my senior boss on MSN afterwards, and I couldn't help but say,"where have all men gone?  What's wrong with this world?  Men don't want to be men anymore, they want to be boys!"  My boss "LOL-ed".

Even in my personal life, I have come across a number of male friends who were already in their 30's, but were absolutely resistant to adult responsibilities.  They typically:
1. didn't think about the future
2. wanted a relatively simple/ stress-free work life
3. had no intention of starting a family
4. felt no responsibility as a man to look after his girlfriend/ future wife or bring money home
5. were huge supporters of gender equality, believed that women should contribute equally financially, and would fight with women over matters of little significance
6. were selfish and hesitant to sacrifice
7. did not think long term, but immediate gratification

It puzzles me how women evolve to take on bigger responsibilities, juggling with so many roles, while some men resist growing up.  Where have all the men gone?  What happened to wanting to support a family?  Protecting and bringing happiness to your other half?  Being the emotional support?  Not letting your other half down?  Building a home for your OWN family?

It is quite scary how a lot of men these days have such weak sense of male responsibility.  I found a lot of online journal articles on kidults, most attributing the phenomenon to protected childhood environment, financially secure parents, lack of financial responsibility to support parents/ siblings, and lack of parental expectations/ pressure.  I wonder if those parents would have changed the way they raised their kids if they had known that being "hands off" parents would eventually limit their kids' survival skills as an adult.

I wonder what will be the turning point/ reality check for these kidults to realize they can't be Peter Pan forever and there's a huge sense of achievement acting like a man.  "Elder sister" figures like me who lecture them about life?  Being dumped by numerous girlfriends?  I have no idea.  I'm really eager to find out.

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