December 20, 2004

Defining Adulthood

Most of us agree that an 18th birthday does not magically transform someone from child to adult. So what, exactly, does being an adult--or "grown-up"--mean?

This is what I came up with as a definition...

Someone both capable of and willing to be self-sufficient (providing for their own basic needs and, if applicable, willing and able to take care of their dependents).

With this definition, a 25-year-old living with his parents and not wanting to work would not qualify as an adult. A 25-year-old who keeps changing jobs to avoid having child support taken out of his check would not qualify as an adult, either. A 25-year-old living with his parents while attending school would qualify, assuming he's getting an education to better himself rather than to avoid the "real world".

What do you think?

Posted by Jennifer at December 20, 2004 11:56 AM


there all "adults" just not very smart ones tbh :P They will all be slapped down by the wraith of responibility one way or another >_

although i dont really want to grow up would rather be just a big kid for as long as possible ;)

Posted by: Tony at December 20, 2004 12:28 PM

I like it. What about a 12 year-old on the street, surviving with a combination of scavenging and petty larceny?

Posted by: Jim at December 20, 2004 01:00 PM

There's too much coddling going on nowadays. We're producing physical adults with child-like responsibilities.

Too much goddamned coddling...

Posted by: Paul at December 20, 2004 01:36 PM

Or a seven-year old genius who wants to imancipate himself because his parents are "holding him back"?

Posted by: Jim at December 20, 2004 02:04 PM

Being grown up means that you are legally responsible for your own actions. A dull, but difficult definition.

Posted by: Iam at December 20, 2004 02:41 PM

I think the distinction is overrated.

Posted by: Trey Givens at December 20, 2004 06:08 PM

I believe you only actually become an adult upon havin' a generation of children who look to you for answers and you are capable of supplying them on a very regular basis.

Posted by: Tig at December 20, 2004 06:49 PM

Becoming an adult is the moment when you open your paycheck and notice the difference between "gross" and "net".

In some ways I will never grow up. I like being silly and carefree and staying up all night and going to work the next day sleepy and goofy from too much fun. But being grown up to me means others counting on you for their well being. That's what gets me out of bed every morning more than anything else.

Posted by: Jeff at December 20, 2004 07:03 PM


Childhood: Cleaning your room because someone told you to.
Adulthood: Cleaning your room because you told yourself to.

Childhood: Going to bed at 9:00 because you're told to.
Adulthood: Going to bed at 9:00 because you're frickin' exhausted.

Childhood: Bedtime sucks and morning is sweet.
Adulthood: Bedtime is sweeeet and morning sucks aaaaass!

Hey, this is fun!

Childhood: Stealing a peach from the local fruit stand just to see if you can get away with it.
Adulthood: Smacking the kid that stole that peach so he knows that he can't get away with it.

Childhood: Thank God Christmas is finally here!
Adulthood: Thank God Christmas is finally over!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at December 20, 2004 09:05 PM

A few British papers covered this earlier this year. Seems I am a 'man boy' or something. Living at home, sometimes wearing shorts and sandels (though not with dyed hair or silly jewellery), and still financially-dependent on my parents. I am aged 24.
Perhaps by the time I am 30 I will be able to afford to leave the nest, but England these days requires the equiv to $250,000 just to get a small first home.

The physicalities of age are fine definers but we must also consider the mentalities and responsibilities of an age. says:
"Now, said Furstenberg, “The most important milestones are completing school, establishing an independent household, and being employed full-time—concrete steps associated with the ability to support a family.” "

Posted by: Monjo at December 21, 2004 08:17 AM