When will the latest generation of adults grow up?

Colouring books have become a popular way to unwind and de-stress, but are they just another sign of

Colouring books have become a popular way to unwind and de-stress, but are they just another sign of our reluctance to grow up, asks Sharon Griffiths. - Credit: PA

When are we going to grow up? Instead of becoming sensible, mature adults, we're regressing, turning into a nation of hopeless, helpless children.

The nanny state is constantly having to tell us to eat our five a day, take more exercise, keep out of the sun, carry water with us, watch out for slippy surfaces.

The huge Health and Safety industry has grown up partly because we no longer seem capable of taking responsibility for ourselves. Instead, they take the risk away, so we'll never learn – whether it's uneven pavements, or grapes on supermarket floors – to take care of ourselves.

It's never our fault.

Political correctness is little more than a way of enforcing good manners.

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A court case or tribunal and awards for hurt feelings are the equivalent of a quick shake, or a slap on the legs and 'Say sorry!'

Once upon a time small children were dressed as adults. Now adults dress like children in glorified romper suits, joggers and big bouncy shoes, as if they're off to the playground, not the real world of work.

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Why else have middle-aged men taken to wearing baggy shorts in winter? Unless to show off their calves full of tattoos.

We blame the banks for letting us build up debts and the food industry for making us fat.

We've almost given up cooking and eat food that we haven't had to prepare.

Often we eat it with our fingers too. Just like babies.

We like our holidays organised, so we don't have to think about them, with entertainment laid on for adults and clubs for children, so we don't have to think about them either.

Many societies used to consider manhood started at 12. For generations in this country it was 21. Now, even though the age of maturity is legally 18, many twenty-somethings are still really adolescents with no responsibilities at all. When people go out and drink too much so they don't know what they're doing, we used to stick them in a cell until morning to sober up. Now teams of well-meaning volunteers go out with flat shoes for the girls who can no longer stagger in their stilettoes and make sure they get home safely.

Our parents did DIY, knitted, made clothes, did exquisite embroidery, all creative and productive. But now, would you believe, we're running out of pencils because so many adults are busy colouring in adult colouring books. They call it mindfulness. Mindlessness might be a better word.

Even apparently grown-up things like insurance aren't grown-up any more. Instead of making a decision on a wise value-for-money sort of way, the big companies tempt us with soft toys or plastic robots. They know that our financial wisdom extends no further than wanting a meerkat to cuddle. More teddy bears are sold for adults than children. And more adults than teenagers read teen fiction.

Most of this doesn't matter. I, too, like bouncy shoes and teen fiction and love my old teddy bear. But...

At some point in the not too distant future, this generation of kidults will be the ones in charge. They'll be running businesses, universities, councils, the country. Big responsibilities.

How will they cope when they've never had to take responsibility even for themselves? Maybe they'll be too busy colouring in...

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