Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Fully-Fledged Adult

I was accused the other day of treating my children like children and not realizing that a fully-fledged adult doesn't need to be bound by the same restrictions as a child.  Yes, it was one of my children who made the accusation.  Once I got over the sting, I wanted to delve into some research.  That's how I roll.

First of all, a few definitions:
Child - a person between birth and full growth; a son or daughter (Dictionary.com)
Fully fledged - of a young bird, having acquired its adult feathers and thus able to fly (Free Dictionary)
Adult - fully grown and developed; mature and sensible (Merriam-Webster)

I am honestly excited when I think of my children (definition 2 - they will always be my children just the same as I will always be their parent) becoming adults.  I want them to grow their flight feathers and take off.  What a wonderful world we live in!  So many opportunities for growth and development!  I love watching my children grow.  And I help them manage that growth.  I've long told them that my job as their mother is to make myself obsolete.  The idea is that as they learn and grow more, I help less.  The more they do, the less I help, until one day they are off and on their own.  Huzzah!

The challenge lies in the definition of adult.  The "fully grown" part and the "mature and sensible" part don't necessarily come at the same time.  Thus, an individual who has reached 18 - one of our society's hallmarks for "adulthood" could think that now they are fully grown and sensible.  (Stifling laughter.)

Let's see. Assuming that fully grown and developed is only referring to physical growth, I know that 18 is not yet finished.  My brothers grew in more height and broader shoulders well into their early 20s.  Brain development is not finished until the mid-20s, and sometimes later.  So nope, not finished.  As far as mature and sensible, I happen to know that sensible means that you think like I do.  Arrogant of me, no?  And my teens in general do not think like I do.  That doesn't mean that they don't think well, but is merely a showing that sensible is primarily in the eyes of the beholder.  Very subjective.  So who gets to define adulthood?

I reject the growing philosophy of "emerging adulthood," where new adults have the freedom to play and explore their world for a decade or more.  We used to go straight from child to adult.  Now we have an interim period of the teen years, where irresponsibility and fun define life.  Now we want to add another interim period, before we can buckle down and become adults?  Am I showing my bias?

I like this article that talks about defining adulthood:
Numerous studies reveal that the top three criteria for becoming adult, relatively universally and across age groups, are:
• taking responsibility for yourself
• establishing beliefs and values separate from your parents
• gaining financial independence
And another article, after listing a number of characteristics of adulthood, states:
Above all, true adults do what they have to do when it is required of them, and they do what they want when they can.  They are able to distinguish between the two and manage their time and efforts accordingly.
Do what you want to do.  Be responsible.  Take care of yourself.  Pay your own way.  Believe it because you decided to.  Manage your time.  Accept your consequences.  Clean up after yourself.  Do what you say you will.

And if you need to live at home and have me help you with things, then I am in a parental role.  I'm happy to help, but it does come with strings.  Love you, honey.  Get ready to fly!

No comments:

Post a Comment