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Are We Grown Up Yet? Study Says Not 'Till 26

 
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 12:49 am
That's something for me now:

Like Fine Wine, Personality Improves with Age

:wink:
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CodeBorg
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 01:49 am
dlowan wrote:
Actually - I am not sure we DO grow up in the same way we used to. I think we tend to remain far more flexible and "light" in our thinking and behaviour.

Strongly agree... Our rate of change seems to be increasing with each decade, so I don't think customs, traditions, or expectations are nearly as rigid. There are many more exceptions to almost all rules. It's a free-for-all!

Myself, I feel like I was grown up when I took charge ... at about 12 or so. I scrounged money, bought equipment, and went on a 3-week bicycle camping trip in another country when I was 13. The only other person involved was 15.

Public High School was about as crushing as prison, so I dove into an engineering career before graduating. Worked hard and saved up for a house on the beach at 23. After that, six years of college was a waste, jumping through meaningless hoops, so I never got a degree. Instead of "finishing my education", I started a never-ending process of curiosity and learning -- music, poetry, physics, economics, math, philosophy, history, psychology -- there's so much cool stuff out there!

Bankrupt at 26, retired millionaire at 33, lonely old woodsman at 36, are we really trying to create a schedule of expectations for people to follow? That's just weird.

The world is incredibly more complex today than two decades ago, so I would let the current generation take whatever time they need, to do whatever they need to do, in their own way. It'll sure be interesting!

Different milestones for different folks -- My favorite milestone is my first deliberate, conscious and deep relationship at 27. Love. Sweet closeness, beauty and joy, deep company. I'll never forget my first, but I was already grown up and looking for 15 years before the opportunity struck. That was luck, not me.

My skills constantly build, but my identity is still changing just as fast as twenty years ago, so I think maturity is for 21-year-olds trying to land a job. Whether 12, 27, later, ... the trick is to always be young. And to not feel like you're "supposed to" be anything, because truth is I don't think anybody fits in.
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marycat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 08:10 am
I like your post, Codeborg, especially the bit about finishing one's education. How can such a process ever really be complete?

I think a lot of people put too much emphasis on receiving a bachelor's degree as that completion point. (Brian is one of those people -- he really won't feel "grown-up" until he does complete his bachelor's degree; even though he has developed impressive knowledge and skills while growing and learning on his own. And even though it will take him years to finish college while working full time.)

I completed my bachelor's degree at the expected 21 years old. Then I found full-time work doing whatever I found; I didn't really know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but at least I was working full time as I was expected to.

I saved money, changed careers, and went back to graduate school. I picked the wrong program and spent a lot of money I should not have. Oh well.

I changed careers again. After a few years, I went back to school again, this time for two professional cooking and baking programs. Right choices. Just what I needed.

I know my education is not complete; I have much to learn. I may or may not go back to another formal program, but I know I will keep learning.
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 08:14 am
I guess the term is different for different people. It seems to represent something negative to most of you but to me, a grown up is one who faces their resonsibilities and takes care of their ****. That doesn't mean that you've done everything or you've seen everything or you've had all of the new experiences you'll ever have. You can be a grown up and still have alot of fun.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 10:28 am
The concept of "grown-up" is totally cultural, it is changing, and fast.

Many kids in my father's generation (b. 1910) were "grown-ups" at very early ages (14 to 17). They graduated from the "School of Hard Knocks of Life". My dad left his house "to find gold in Central America" at 16. My maternal grandmother (b. 1904) was married and had three children at the age of 19.

Philosopher Ivan Illich recalls showing some Mexican peasants, in the early 70s, pictures of people in a market, and asking them to define them. They found very few "children"; often they defined young people between 10 and 15 as "sons" or "daughters". The concept of "adolescent" or "teenager" was alien to them.

I belong to the generation that wanted to leave their parents' home as soon as possible. A lucky break -a scholarship abroad- let me do it at age 19. I became "SeƱor" when I first married (I was 23). But it's taken me longer to consider myself a grown-up. Maybe I
felt that way -for a little while- when I became a father (I was 26).

I do not want to be "mature", in the sense "mature" people are very risk-averse in so many senses.
Some problems arise in the work environment, where you are supposed to act "mature", specially if you have some "responsability position".

I consider my older son (22) a grown-up. He lives with his mother, brother and maternal grandfather. Has combined work and study since he was 15. Though the money he earns (a small scholarship for his research) is not enough to support him, he gives a small contribution to the household. My second son (18) is officially an adult, but he's still not a grown-up to me.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 12:00 pm
Interesting discussion.

Joseph Campbell has talked a great deal about the lack of a rite of passage in current society, and implications thereof. This is a fairly recent development, that we don't have some clear demarcation point -- yesterday I was a child, today I am an adult. Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are supposed to be about that, but are not, in practical terms -- they are just big parties. Nobody thinks a just-turned-13 year old is an adult.

So I think we are constantly in search of rites of passage -- humans crave that kind of ceremony. High school used to be one, but very rarely any more. Graduating from college does a pretty good job -- going from the regimentation and safety nets of school to "real life." Marriage is another one -- all of your friends and family gather to watch you enter into a new life.

But there is not one single event, and so that means it is parceled out and often unsatisfying.

I had a sort of a rite of passage, in becoming deaf as a teenager; I certainly grew up. My parents were well-meaning but rather ineffectual in dealing with it, and it fell to me. So I did. And I have had a level I can access at any time, a level that says "no matter what it may be, I can handle it." It's been a great comfort to know that level is there.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 12:24 pm
Hence the severity of rites of passage in many tribal cultures, I s'pose. "If I can do that, I can deal with any of this other crap that's going to come up."
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 12:47 pm
'zactly. Now, nobody's going to send their 16-year-old out on a mountaintop for a fortnight or so and see if he survives.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 12:56 pm
Actually, I've always imagined that when my kid hit 14, I'd just ship him/her off to some remote part of Mexico and let him/her find his/her way back.
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CodeBorg
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:09 pm
sozobe wrote:
'zactly. Now, nobody's going to send their 16-year-old out on a mountaintop for a fortnight or so and see if he survives.


Just curious... Why not?

People grow up pretty fast when they need to, so why not permit the need to occur? Best summer I had and I was 13 -- bicycled up 3 mountains, 1600 miles in 3 weeks with 80 pound packs, with flats, broken spokes and chains every day.

Learned pretty fast:

1) Take charge -- You don't get anywhere unless you pedal hard and long.
Nothing happens unless you make it happen.

2) It's up to you -- Cold at night? You should have kept that sweater. Hungry? You should have stopped at that store.

3) It's your life -- The world really doesn't care about you, but the world is still an incredible, amazing, and beautiful place. Enjoy every day!

4) Don't settle -- Are you really hungry? Then ask them to make a 3-foot pizza! The only way they will is if you ask.

5) Be bold -- Walk right in and do what you want. People will make way for you even if you're 13, but only if you demand it.



The transition to adulthood can not be imposed. It has to come at the right time for each person, when they are ready, when they initiate it.
It's the day someone makes up their mind.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:19 pm
I think Child Protection Services might become... interested... in them if they did. The whole point of a fortnight-or-so foray on a mountaintop is to be in a truly life-threatening situation and come out the other side, an adult. But truly life-threatening means that some don't make it.

This is something I struggle with as a mom. I am currently protective to a fault, and since my daughter is only 2.5, I'm OK with that. But I am utterly gobsmacked at the things my parents allowed me to do when I was a kid, by myself. Nothing too terrible happened, but I was in many seriously dangerous situtations. I struggle a lot with what I will allow, since I think some of that is necessary, but I'm NOT gonna let her walk across the Mississippi river on a six-inch plank when she's 12. Period.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:33 pm
Been pondering this lately, about how much of my childhood was spend jumping over things (without a helmtet - GASP!) on a cheap bike, how much time spent in the backs of pick-ups, how much time spent wandering the neighborhood alone -- and how much I enjoyed those things that seem to be kind of verboten now. (And this is just the 80s I'm talking about...)
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:37 pm
Well, the tendency to be overprotective is always there. I always remind myself of my survival capabilities at any given age. I cannot allow my kids not to do the things I've done, and even some I would have liked to do, but wasn't allowed to. They should also be able to make the same mistakes (except the big ones).

Another thread in A2K is full of nostalgia of the times when kids could drink water from the faucet, had accidents, there were no cellular phones to check them and came home after the sunset. At least some of those goodies of life can still be delivered, even today.
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:40 pm
now days when a kids screws-up they usually go to jail.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:40 pm
Yeah, I know. My mom is all scandalized that we "make" the sozlet sit in a car seat. Nevermind that it's the law.

I think the freedom I was given really helped me become tough and independent, which are qualities I value. But I also felt unsupported to some extent. I really felt that I could only rely on myself, in the end, and that has positive and negative consequences.

I think that a lot of the safety paranoia is just that, paranoia. I already let the sozlet do all kinds of things that shock and amaze my friends. ("You let her dig in the garden? But CATS might have DEFECATED there! The diseases, I tell you...") I just keep trying to find the happy medium, where she is not endangered and knows I will do everything I can to keep her safe, but she is allowed to be independent and figure things out for herself.

Tough.
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:41 pm
or get kicked off the team or school or get a record. The world is not as kid-prank friendly as it was 20-25 years ago.
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CodeBorg
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:43 pm
(Sorry, I editted my previous post when I should have posted new comments separate...)

It's definitely a gray area and a judgement call.

CPS is about protecting children, while we're talking about a real and true adult. The legal system is our tool, not our master, so they can ... face our wrath if they interfere with something we judge is healthy.

Danger occurs in real life, and MUST be dealt with. The only way to learn the skill is to do it, carefully and safely. Notice that our attention and focus negates the actual danger. It takes care of the situation. The only time we're negligent is if we face danger carelesslly, without paying attention to it. We create our own safety, as much or as little as we choose.

As a parent I would never "send" my kid out for a fortnight, to survive. It's something the child does on their own, whether you like it or not.
So there's no sense in worrying about it ... you are not actually involved.



-----
Jeez that sounds pedantic! I just feel strongly about these ideas because most of my 40-year-old friends never grew up, and I'm tired of our infantile, gimme-gimme, spoon-fed country. I'll calm down now... :-)
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:46 pm
Yeah, CodeBorg, I know just what you mean about the eternal adolecents. That really bothers me, too.

The "sent" part is that I started out by talking about rites of passage, which were pretty specific and regimented. When you get to this age, or sprout a mustache, or whatever -- specific milestones -- off you go to prove you're a man. No ifs ands or buts about it. If you don't want to do it, if you fail, you are humiliated. To the point where it is a given -- reach that milestone, off to kill the bear. Or whatever. Not much choice in the matter.
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CodeBorg
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:53 pm
sozobe wrote:
No ifs ands or buts about it. If you don't want to do it, if you fail, you are humiliated. To the point where it is a given -- reach that milestone, off to kill the bear. Or whatever. Not much choice in the matter.


Yeah, that's hazing or initiation -- a brain-washing technique designed to create loyalty. I don't go for that at all.

True adults don't let anyone get in their way. They decide when to be an adult, how and why. People should create their own ceremony or ritual, and tell the people around them who they now are.

The community should listen to, rather than demand.
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CodeBorg
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 05:22 pm
"Wipe your mouth!" "Clean your room!" "Go kill a bear!" "You're an adult now!"
That just creates a very large baby. What do I do next, Ma?

"Be a man" "Be strong!" "Be a good parent!" "Be a proud employee".
Conforming to the labels may strengthen the group, but there are no actual adults within it.

So do what you think is right. With your best thinking, for the reasons and logic that make sense to you, and just go for it!

The labels and slogans themselves are not wrong, It's just how they are used. When someone tells another how to be (without respecting their thinking) it turns the subject into a child. Over and over again, encouraging someone to be a child 100 times a day is bad practice for our society.

But when someone tells YOU what they're going to do ... they're now a grownup!
Anyone can do it. I've seen 9-year-olds take charge of 49-year-olds.
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