It is an age old question. Just what defines an Adult? The legal age of majority in the United States is 18. The drinking age is 21. People can join the army and go to war at 18. Does any of that make them an adult? Is it age or something else? The definition of adult is: “One who has obtained maturity or a legal age” This seems to not leave any room for discussion, but the first part of the definition has room for question. To see what it means to be an adult one must look at maturity.
Maturity is the ability to handle adult situations without depending on others. Maturity seems to be the ability to pay ones bills and take care of the self without having to rely on anyone else to do it. Does this mean the millions of students who are in college are adults? They have reached the age of adulthood. The answer may be a simple: it depends. The student who takes their time on things, goes to class, studies, and is not distracted from what they need to do by drinking and partying. They are mature and are adults. It does not matter if they have a job or not. School is their job, another job would be a second job which many students do. It also doesn’t matter if when the work is done they let loose every now and then, many other adults do. However the students who are just there to party skip class and skate by. Those students are not adults no matter how old.
College isn’t the only example. There are many people who aren’t in college who need to question if they are adults or not. Some of these people are much older than expected. People who live off of others and never contribute anything do not act like adults. People who throw fits when things do not go their way, and people who expect the entire world to do what they want. None of these people act like adults.
Adulthood is more than the age. It is the ability to handle your family, your finances, and pick yourself back up when the worst happens. Adulthood is understanding that life will not go your way many times, it is being willing to give as well as take. Adulthood is so much more than an age it is also a state of mind.
As a teenager your life can be carefree and absolutely wonderful. Once you hit adulthood you can kiss that fun and fancy free life goodbye and say hello to mortgages and electric bills. What responsibilities do adults have that teenagers never have to worry about and vise versa?
At every stage in our lives we have responsibilities. When we are five we have to remember to feed the gold fish. When we are twelve it’s take out the garbage. Once we hit the teen years it’s time for mowing the lawn, cleaning our rooms and making sure our homework is finished before the weekend. The last chapter in our lives is adulthood. If you choose to start a family your responsibilities are even more mounting. Sure, there are those folks who refuse to grow up and live at home until they are 45 but for the rest of us, we have to be responsible and make wise decisions.
Teenagers have the responsibility of keeping Mom and Dad happy. That’s a pretty big order to fill. They have to make the grades, keep their rooms tidy, clean up the messes they make in the kitchen and keep all dirty laundry off of their bedroom floor and in the laundry hamper where it belongs. Maybe that’s a bit much on the cleaning but you get the idea. Teenagers have to be given responsibilities by their parent’s to make them ready for the real world. They have to be held accountable for their actions. Once they get out of college and get a real job, they will have the boss to answer to. The boss isn’t going to care if they were out all night partying and could barely make it out of the bed that morning.
Adults have mortgages, utility bills, car payments, groceries to buy, medical insurance to pay for and maybe a few kids to raise. The biggest responsibility for adults is keeping a good job so they can be even more responsible by paying their bills on time. If you do add some kids into the mix, that job is even more important. As you get older, you also become more wealthy. When people are younger, they tend to just go for whatever they can afford. Mature adults have more disposable income, and are more willing to spend on items that are good for themselves, as well as the world. For example, a typical college would probably just get disposable wares for a party. A more mature and environmentally conscious adult would go for biodegradable products instead. At the end of the day, adults really have the responsibility of teaching their children to be responsible, caring, and well rounded.
It is a cycle. Our parent’s taught us responsibility and now it is our job to teach it to our children.