At what age does a person become an adult? | INFJ Forum

At what age does a person become an adult?

Satya

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May 11, 2008
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There seems to be a wide gap between various types of societies and their conception on when children become adults. The most "primitive" societies (hunter/gatherer/garden) tend to believe adulthood is achieved when a girl starts menstruating and a boy starts hunting. Agrarian societies tend to claim that it occurs when a boy is ready to leave his home, take a wife, and start out on his own. Industrialized societies, which generally have child labor laws which restrict when a child can begin working, place the age of adulthood at when they are capable of supporting themselves, usually in late adolescence. Modern society's seem to wish to extend adolescence indefinitely, or at least until the point that a person has kids of their own.

So when do you think a person truly becomes an adult? Or is it relative to the individual's situation, culture, etc? Is it fair to have blanket laws that restrict things like drinking, driving, sex, etc. under a certain age?
 
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Honestly I believe when you are 20 no matter what. You are officially an adult. If the word "teen" (seventeen,eighteen,ninteen) no longer comes after your name anymore you are an adult. But that dosen't mean you aren't young at heart or incredibly immiture.
 
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When it comes to sex; I definitely think the law should be 16-18 at the youngest. We don't want perverts sleeping with toddlers.

Technically, a child of 14 can do anything an adult can physically. So outside of sex, I'd say in all other aspects a 14yr old should be treated like an adult. A 14yr old knows how to work, what the rules and accepted behavior of their society/culture dictates, right from wrong, basic survivor skills, vote, drive, etc.

But also, just because a 14yr old physically can do something doesn't mean that they should. So although I think 14 would be a great age to cap off legally, every individual is different. And certain situations and backgrounds would make 14 impossible. Parents should try to raise their children early on to be independent.

It's sad, but I know some 14yr olds who don't even know what a checkbook is. The same 14yr old has no idea what a president does or why a president (executive leader) is important, and doesn't even know the geographic layout of her city. If she was dumped 5miles from her house, she wouldn't know how to find her way back home. It's sad.
 
I think it's relative, in all cases.
 
This is either an incredibly easy question to answer.

Or an incredibly hard one.

Physically, adulthood is achieved when the capability to conceive a child is gained.

Emotionally? There are people who never achieve emotional adulthood. What makes emotional adulthood? I'm not entirely sure. Maybe when one develops the ability to make sound reasoned choices irregardless of what they 'feel'. Not to say everyone utilizes the skill all the time after it developes. But I think that use (or non-use) of the skill also leads to the independent verification that using reason instead of emotions also leads to better outcomes; thereby encouraging the increased use of the skill.
 
It's the age at which point a person is charged with taking responsibilty for their actions. That ability is (in my view) what distinguishes an adult from a child. As alcyone points out, some people can go through their whole life and never really become an "adult" in that sense.

I'd say the reason "youth" has been extended in modern societies well into the 20s (and even 30s -- didn't Bush II claim that his alcoholism was a product of youth??) is because the age at which a person becomes a "producer" of wealth is much higher now. In pre-modern societies, at 13 you could pick up a spear or bow-and-arrow and start contributing. Because society is so specialized today, you have to go through high school and even college and grad school to really being producing (and thus earning a wage as well). So, you see youth being extended concurrently -- since people aren't really responsible for their financial well being until their mid 20s or 30s anymore.

Ironically, many people fight taking on rseponsibility as they get older and glorify youth (and we definitely glorify youth in the west!!) but, you don't really have full freedom and probably don't deserve any freedom until you choose to become an adult. freedom and responsibilty go hand-in-hand like that.
 
When it comes to sex; I definitely think the law should be 16-18 at the youngest. We don't want perverts sleeping with toddlers.

Technically, a child of 14 can do anything an adult can physically. So outside of sex, I'd say in all other aspects a 14yr old should be treated like an adult. A 14yr old knows how to work, what the rules and accepted behavior of their society/culture dictates, right from wrong, basic survivor skills, vote, drive, etc.

But also, just because a 14yr old physically can do something doesn't mean that they should. So although I think 14 would be a great age to cap off legally, every individual is different. And certain situations and backgrounds would make 14 impossible. Parents should try to raise their children early on to be independent.

It's sad, but I know some 14yr olds who don't even know what a checkbook is. The same 14yr old has no idea what a president does or why a president (executive leader) is important, and doesn't even know the geographic layout of her city. If she was dumped 5miles from her house, she wouldn't know how to find her way back home. It's sad.

I think what you are referring to here is the ability to take into consideration the long term consequences of ones actions.

Which is why we see so many teenagers get into alcohol related incidents, or into tragic car accidents cause they aren't wearing seatbelts (which isn't 'cool'). Because after all.....[sarcasm]Nothing like paralyzation, or a persistant vegetative state, or DEATH can happen to them. [/sarcasm]

As for legal sexual consent. 18 all the way. That way the girls parents have the choice as to whether or not they will contribute to their grandchilds care. As crass as it sounds, I wouldn't want to have to provide for the childcare, lawyer fees (for getting child support from the baby daddy) and feeding (formula is damn expenseive) not to mention the medical expenses of my 16 (or younger) yr old daughters child (when she gets to that age that is). I would choose to provide that care in order to help my daughter complete college so she could then have a better chance of getting a job to support herself. But the difference here is choice.

Another reason, young teenagers are so impressionable. They can't tell that the older guy hitting on them and doing all these things to make them feel 'special' and 'loved' are nothing more than tactics used to lure that teen into sex. The teen is nothing more than a notch on their bedposts. A conquest. A temporary satiation for an immoral addiction.
 
I think what you are referring to here is the ability to take into consideration the long term consequences of ones actions.

Which is why we see so many teenagers get into alcohol related incidents, or into tragic car accidents cause they aren't wearing seatbelts (which isn't 'cool'). Because after all.....[sarcasm]Nothing like paralyzation, or a persistant vegetative state, or DEATH can happen to them. [/sarcasm]

As for legal sexual consent. 18 all the way. That way the girls parents have the choice as to whether or not they will contribute to their grandchilds care. As crass as it sounds, I wouldn't want to have to provide for the childcare, lawyer fees (for getting child support from the baby daddy) and feeding (formula is damn expenseive) not to mention the medical expenses of my 16 (or younger) yr old daughters child (when she gets to that age that is). I would choose to provide that care in order to help my daughter complete college so she could then have a better chance of getting a job to support herself. But the difference here is choice.

Another reason, young teenagers are so impressionable. They can't tell that the older guy hitting on them and doing all these things to make them feel 'special' and 'loved' are nothing more than tactics used to lure that teen into sex. The teen is nothing more than a notch on their bedposts. A conquest. A temporary satiation for an immoral addiction.

I see where you're coming from -- but in my view the younger we teach kids to be responsible for themselves, the better. I think our drinking laws for example are ludicrous (and are puritanical in comparison to Europe's) and probably cause more binge drinking because we treat it as something that is so forbidden. The same with sex. Again, European consent laws are a lot more flexible. Should a 19 year old who is in a juvenile but loving sexual relationship with a 16 year old be treated as a sex offender? There's more nuance in relationships than our laws make room for. Again, like alcohol, sex is treated as something forbidden, so parents never prepare their kids for the predators (who certainly exist but are not as common as I think we conventionally believe)

People say that teenagers love to break boundaries and test limits but that strikes me as an excuse. Paternalism is always in constant tension with liberty; and given the choice, my view is that we should always err on the side of liberty, and not control.
 
I think it's relative, in all cases.
I agree. That's the problem with age-related laws (not to say that some of them aren't still necessary). Mental development follows certain patterns, but life experience can profoundly alter the speed at which a child matures, and can also cause a child to be much more mature for some purposes than for others.
 
Interesting question which I have come across before. What makes someone an adult anyway? their age, knowledge and experience?
I think there is an emotional side to it as well depending on maturance of handling them.
 
a 19 year old who is in a juvenile but loving sexual relationship with a 16 year old be treated as a sex offender?



YES! Because if it were truly love, and they were that dedicated to their relationship, then the 19 year old would be capable of holding off two years to start exploring the physical side of their 'love' when the other one has reached their age of consent.

Love doesn't necessarily have to include sex.

Of course if they are both 100% sure that they are going to be together forever etc...with whipped cream and cherries. Then the parents of the underager can give them consent to marry at 17.

Lack of education as indeed made things like sex and alcohol 'forbidden' fruits. Which is why I am a very vocal proponent of a complete sex education. However, once again I have to go back to the lack of ability of the youngsters to take the consequences of their actions into consideration.

It's not just pregnancy that is a consequence of sex anymore.
 
I agree. That's the problem with age-related laws (not to say that some of them aren't still necessary). Mental development follows certain patterns, but life experience can profoundly alter the speed at which a child matures, and can also cause a child to be much more mature for some purposes than for others.

Agreed. It's relative.
 
Agreed. It's relative.

The problem is, it would be very expensive, time and resource consuming in order to test the entire population to determine their relative maturity in order to grant 'permission' (I can't think of a better term) to do things like drink, buy property, vote, have jobs, engage in sex, and procreate.

Not only that but you'd be putting an unreasonable burden on the parents (well maybe it would spur more parents to put some effort into raising their kids right...but I digress, that topic can hold out for a different debate) who up until a kid reachs the age of majority are responsible for the decisions, actions, and keep of the minor.

Not only that, who would provide the 'testing' or guidelines in order to determine a persons eligibility? What authority would be able to set those types of thresholds?

Next to impossible, so the next best option is to set a physical age guideline and let the rest sort itself out.
 
The problem is, it would be very expensive, time and resource consuming in order to test the entire population to determine their relative maturity in order to grant 'permission' (I can't think of a better term) to do things like drink, buy property, vote, have jobs, engage in sex, and procreate.

We mean it is relative, not that it can be legally defined that way.
 
Interesting question which I have come across before. What makes someone an adult anyway? their age, knowledge and experience?
I think there is an emotional side to it as well depending on maturance of handling them.

I think there are differing sort of "ages" in regards to one's emotional development and or maturity and one's mental developments and ones physical developments, and they do not always coincide. I'll post here a writing of a Hindu sage that was called "Gurudeva" that I think says much of how I would see it as well. I don't always agree with what I have seen of his talks and writings (you can google him if you like) - but I agree very closely with this particular take/assessment:

LESSON 66 from Merging with Siva

Emotional Maturity

What is emotional maturity? It certainly is not to be equated with
physical age. I know people who are well past middle life and are not yet emotionally mature. Even if the physical body is totally mature, the intellect, as well as the emotional unit, can remain childish and unstable. The mind may have been educated to the nth degree, and yet such a scholar remains vulnerable to depression and discouragement. The very first step toward emotional mastery is recognition coupled with admission
that in some areas we are not yet perfect. Only through open admission can we devote ourselves to the sadhana that will balance and lessen the forces, allowing us to strive within ourselves to secure ourselves within ourselves. An emotionally mature man or woman is totally secure within and prepared to tap the greater realms of spiritual being.

We make very little progress when we strive to conquer these baser instincts in a good mood. However, vast strides are possible when we are miserable and work with ourselves to replace our misery with joy and understanding. Therefore, if you are ever disappointed or discouraged, count it a blessing, for you then have the opportunity to conquer the instinctive nature and really stabilize yourself dynamically on the spiritual path.

Often we are disappointed not only with ourselves and our circumstances but with other people as well. We can oversee this and other instinctive responses, such as mental criticism or jealousy, by looking at everyone and saying to ourselves, "I like you. I send you blessings." We cannot be discouraged or disappointed or jealous when we look our fellow man
in the eye and say and simultaneously feel and believe through every atom of our being, "I like you. I send you blessings." Impossible! Love overcomes all instinctive barriers between people.

There may be certain people or a certain person to whom you can say, "I like you," but for whom this is hard to believe in your heart. If you look deeper into them, you may find they are emotionally immature, a 12-year-old emotional body walking around in a 35-year-old physical body. Are you going to dislike a person for that? No, of course not. You are going to understand him or her. I've seen people with 22-year-old bodies with the wisdom of an 80-year old and the emotional stability
of a 40-year old. I've seen people walking around in a 60-year-old
body with a 12-year-old emotional body. By learning to understand, we cease to be a personality leaning upon our fellow man and falling into disappointment when he lets us down. No, we must lean on no one but ourselves, our own spine, and not be the reactionary victims of the ups and downs of the world around us or the people around us. Then we will gain our freedom from the instinctive forces we were born into and attain sufficient emotional maturity to love and bless the world no matter what our circumstances may be.

I think his last statement here says a lot. :smile:
 
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a 19 year old who is in a juvenile but loving sexual relationship with a 16 year old be treated as a sex offender?



YES! Because if it were truly love, and they were that dedicated to their relationship, then the 19 year old would be capable of holding off two years to start exploring the physical side of their 'love' when the other one has reached their age of consent.

Love doesn't necessarily have to include sex.

Of course if they are both 100% sure that they are going to be together forever etc...with whipped cream and cherries. Then the parents of the underager can give them consent to marry at 17.

Lack of education as indeed made things like sex and alcohol 'forbidden' fruits. Which is why I am a very vocal proponent of a complete sex education. However, once again I have to go back to the lack of ability of the youngsters to take the consequences of their actions into consideration.

It's not just pregnancy that is a consequence of sex anymore.

I agree with all of this -- and if the 19 year old and 16 year old really love each other then they should get the parents' blessing -- that's true. But, from my perspective, it's the very codification -- the very statement that "this is forbidden until you hit 18" -- which creates the forbidden fruit angle. I think this is why the US in particular is so hung-up on sex. I mean, we have some of the strongest and puritanical sexual laws in the West, yet you see some of the most obscene and horrifying sexual crimes committed here as well. In addition, we also have this obsession with young girls in the mass media which you just don't see in other countries with more flexible age of consent laws. I dno't think that's an accident.

Also, it's no controversy that kids and parents sometimes dont' see eye-to-eye on the issue of relationships (which is why some states like CA allow for teenage abortiosn w/o parental notifications, which I favor).

Maybe the real question is, what does it mean to be an adult? If it means excercising sound judgment, having good life experience, and being a wise and rational human being, then many of us wouldn't be adults until well into old age!

If it means being able to make your own choice and accept the consequences for those choices, even at the risk of making mistakes -- that would mean something else.

I agree with you that ultimately, for legal purposes, you probably just need an arbitrary age (to sign contracts and own property). I guess my own quibble comes down to when a person should be prevented from making their own life choices -- be it with drugs, alcohol, or relationships. I think the more liberty and concurrent responsibilty, at an earlier point in time, the better.

EDITED TO ADD: this is probably not the most heard position in the universe, and I may come across as radical in my notions of responsibility/freedom! So I hope I've explained myself clearly. And of course I could be all wrong about all of this -- I've heard the other point of view as well and think there are good points. I hope I'm not offending you acylone in so stating my opinions...they are just that, and they very well could be wrong!!

peace and love
 
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