The Transition From Child To Adult. Something Is Seriously Wrong!

What does it mean to reach adulthood?  Here’s what Dictionary.Com has to say on the subject:


[uh-duhlt, ad-uhlt]  Show IPA



having attained full size and strength; grown up; mature: an adult person, animal, or plant.

of, pertaining to, or befitting adults.

intended for adults; not suitable for children: adult entertainment.


a person who is fully grown or developed or of age.

a full-grown animal or plant.

a person who has attained the age of maturity as specified by law.
Wikipedia has a little more meat, I think.

Biologically, an adult is a human being or other organism that is of reproductive age (sexual maturity). In human context, the term adult additionally has meanings associated with social and legal concepts; for example, a legal adult is a legal concept for a personwho has attained the age of majority and is therefore regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible (contrast with “minor“). In addition, human adulthood encompasses psychological adult development.

Definitions of adulthood are often inconsistent and contradictory; a person may be biologically an adult, and have adult behavior but still be treated as a child if they are under the legal age of majority. Conversely, one may legally be an adult but possess none of the maturity and responsibility that may define adult character.

An event relating to the oncoming of adulthood is coming of age, which encompasses passing a series of tests to demonstrate that a person is prepared for adulthood, or reaching a specified age, sometimes in conjunction with demonstrating preparation. Most modern societies determine legal adulthood based on reaching a legally specified age without requiring a demonstration of physical maturity or preparation for adulthood.

Some propose that moving into adulthood involves an emotional structuring of denial, suggesting this process becomes necessary to cope with one’s own behavior, especially in uncomfortable situations, and also the behavior of others.

Clearly, from a legal and a societal point of view, the idea of adulthood is subject to some debate.  While search the subject of adulthood, I came across a page of quotes  about adulthood. A few caught  my eye:

“What is an adult? A child blown up by age.”

Beauvoir, Simone De


“A boy becomes an adult three years before his parents think he does, and about two years after he thinks he does.”

Hershey, Lewis B


“A boy becomes an adult three years before his parents think he does, and about two years after he thinks he does.”

Hershey, Lewis B

and finally

“We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice — that is, until we have stopped saying It got lost, and say, I lost it.”

Harris, Sidney J.

I like the last quote.  A person becomes an adult when they take responsibility for themselves and their actions. I use to tell my boys: “You can do anything you want to do provided you are prepared to pay the consequences.” The problem with that is that children rarely understand what the consequences of their actions may be until they are well on the road to maturity.

In my day the “Age of Majority” in most states was 21.  Oh how the years passed so slowly when we were teenagers. We thought 21 was old! The Vietnam War brought a change attitudes. The meme “If we are old enough to go to war and die, we are old enough to order a beer in a bar” was strong argument to lower the age of majority to 18 and most states did change their laws. Of course, I was all for that. at the time. My attitude changed when I became a parent.

I was drawn to today’s subject by this article at Fox News last week, in which it is reported that some British psychologist think it is time to increase the age of majority:

Child psychologists in Britain have issued new guidelines this week, advising doctors to change the age for maturity from 18 to 25 years old, Medical Daily reported.  According to the experts, their decision was based on recent findings relating to emotional maturity, hormonal development and neurological activity.

“The idea that suddenly at 18 you’re an adult just doesn’t quite ring true,” Laverne Antrobus, a child psychologist at London’s Tavistock Clinic, told BBC News. “My experience of young people is that they still need quite a considerable amount of support and help beyond that age.”

Antrobus and others claim that adolescence can be split into three stages: An early period between 12 and 14 years of age, a middle period between 15 and 17 years of age, and a new period called “late adolescence” from 18 to 25 years of age.  According to Medical Daily, past research has shown that human cognition continues to development well into early adulthood, and hormonal activity often associated with the teenage years continues into an person’s early 20s.

The psychologists hope that by redefining the age for adulthood, people in their early 20s will gain better access to the proper health care and education.

I’ll be curious to hear what you think but I’m not buying the need to raise the age of majority to 25. It seems to me we are pampering children too much and that is why so many are unprepared for adulthood. Here is another quote from page of quotes linked above that sums up my feelings:

“Adulthood is the ever-shrinking period between childhood and old age. It is the apparent aim of modern industrial societies to reduce this period to a minimum.”

Szasz, Thomas

Maybe I’m just a cranky old man; but,  apart from the fact that schools are no longer in partnership with parents to prepare children to accept the responsibilities of adulthood, I think the big thing that is missing is that children are no longer encouraged to work, much less made to work for their spending money. And, I am not talking about getting an allowance for taking out the garbage or washing dishes. I’m talking about working outside of the home.

In my day it was easier for boys to earn money than girls. At least we had more options. At the tender age of ten and eleven, we could make money mowing lawns (push mowers), raking leaves or shoveling snow for elderly neighbors. When I was twelve and thirteen, I pushed and ice-cream cart nine hours a day. (Child labor laws didn’t seem to apply to selling ice-cream.) At 14 and 15, I spent my summers as a caddy. And, when I turned 16, I got a job after school and weekends working in a shoe store. I worked a variety  summer jobs there after to pay my way through college. By the time I graduated from college, I knew what it was to work and be responsible for myself. I wasn’t alone. Most of my childhood friends did much the same as I.

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

12 thoughts on “The Transition From Child To Adult. Something Is Seriously Wrong!

  1. The days of even finding someone to mow one’s lawn is almost impossible. My yard requires someone to WALK behind a mower rather than ride. Neither adult nor child has little interest. Says it all.

  2. I like ice cream. Can you get me some ice cream? I’ll start crying!

    Adulthood? What’s that all about? Even adults now are children. Buying comic books? Trying to get foul balls at baseball games? There is no adulthood anymore. And this sad state of affairs is aided and abetted by the all-knowing and paternalistic state.

  3. Seems to fit with cradle to grave mentality. The government nanny will be our caretaker for life, why would we need to ever reach maturity to be responsible for our own actions?

  4. I know some supposed adults who refuse to grow up. Each one if them is a professed liberal Democrat or, at least, the type of person who refuses to take responsibility for their own actions. I wonder if these folks just could not get past “The dog ate my homework” stage. Each of them also has some weird conflicting emotional state, waffling between egomaniacal over confidence and underlying insecurities. But that would describe our favorite diagnosis, Jim. The Dunning-Kruger Effect. There it is again!

  5. So then if you have a 24 year old girl in your car is that statutory rape? If you drive a 24 year old girl over the George Washington Bridge from NY to NJ or vice versa are you violating the Mann Act? Can you still get married at 14 in Maryland? At what age does anchor baby status end? Why not follow the Greek model and retire the 25 year olds at 45?Our whole society and culture is becoming one big satire. Ah, for an Ogden Nash observation….

      1. You can drink all the liquor down in Coster Ricker…

        The cow is of the bovine ilk;
        One end is moo, the other, milk. Not unlike congress

        It’s comforting knowing one’s contemporaries are still around.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s