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What makes a person an adult?

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Well-Known Member
The following article from CNN is good fodder for a discussion of what makes a person an adult. The article is titled: Why Men Are In Trouble


I've seen other articles recently that say it now takes a college education to be raised to the middle class level. I've also seen articles that the "caution" part of a humans thinking is not fully developed until they are 25; which I've seen happen in my own children's lives.

Anyway, what do you think about what makes a person an adult?


Well-Known Member
"Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married."
We're only on video games because we can't get a job or a girlfriend to get married with.

on a serious note i thought having children made me an adult but after a few years i still didn't feel like one and this is something i discussed with my councillor, she obviously tried to encourage me that i was one but it didn't make a difference.
I think though having serious responsibilities such as kids, a job, a marriage/long term relationship and maybe a mortgage makes you an look like an adult but i think it's your attitude towards your responsibilities that really makes you an adult. (IMO)


Well-Known Member
Very interesting article. My brother-in-law (sweet and as difficult as he is) is not grown up. I don't know why he never grew up - but at forty-two I don't think he is going to start now.

My sister has two children aged eleven and six and another child aged forty-two who happens also to be her husband but who can't be trusted to be responsible, to be an adult, to deal with anything difficult - to do anything really..... it is very hard for the other spouse to deal with someone who won't be an equal partner. It just is all on you...

My other brother-in-law is a perfect adult - he is responsible, pro-active, engaged, employed, successful, responsible, high-earning, committed, respected --- just one of those people you can rely on - someone who can get things done and does them. Someone who looks at his responsibilities and takes them on - and supercedes them!

He grew up at some point and my other brother-in-law didn't. Why? I don't know - either it is genetic or it is environmental. Nuture or nature, as they say. I think in both those cases, as it goes, it was a combination of the two... my child brother-in-law was incredibly spoilt and indulged by his mother as a child - and yet at the same time she was not a good mother because she didn't provide a decent stability. My adult brother-in-law had a VERY tough father (nothing was ever good enough) but a very loving yet secure childhood from his mother. That said, his elder brother died of a heroin overdose so ..... I think some of it is definitely in one's nature.

Either you go through that rebellious phase and grow-up and become your own adult or you never quite morph into that stage and remain in the perpetual chrysalis of adolescence, which then becomes so familiar and habitual that the thought of morphing into the butterfly-adult you were meant to be then seems an impossibility.

Mortal Moon

Well-Known Member
At least in my country, an adult is legally defined as a human being at or above the age of 18. Now, legal definitions are not the only definitions that matter, but in the present context, your question seems to suggest that you think certain kinds of 20- and 30-something people, particularly males, are not "real" adults, which strikes me as dehumanizing and very offensive.

As for the article, why should I give the slightest flying fuck about someone else's conception of "manhood"? Our culture sucks, as do most other cultures; I have no good reason to live by its arbitrary standards.


Well-Known Member
Interesting point MortalMoon - in many cultures being an adult (and also in the animal world I guess) is based on having gone through puberty and developed secondary sexual characteristics that normally allow one to reproduce.

I don't think that is what the article is referencing here though - as that normally happens around the age of thirteen or so... equally I don't think it is referencing the legal age (be that 16, 18 or 21) - I think it is referring to mental maturity rather than physical.

Clearly, unless they die or have an extremely rare and peculiar disease, almost everyone reaches physical maturity but some do not reach mental maturity. They may be obvious cases such as people who are classes as mentally disabled and are cared for as such --- but there are also people who, whilst not being classified as mentally disabled simply seem to mature mentally much later (and some not at all).

My brother-in-law is a perfect example and whether that is a choice of his or something that he has no control over - I couldn't say. He has been diagnosed with ADHD and maybe that has impaired his ability to be able to take on responsibility or act in the way that the majority of society defines as an "adult" manner.

It is true to say, in his case, that his daughter aged 11 is more mentally mature than he is --- I remember a huge argument they had when she was only four years old as to who was going to next to the window in an aeroplane (he wanted to, so did she and she was only four) so they had a huge argument with tears from her --- and my sister, embarrassed, trying to intervene. Now my niece she wouldn't bother to argue with him - aged eleven, she is the grown-up one and he is still the spoilt child (albeit a large six-foot spoilt child). He is a child, he remains a child despite the fact that he has fathered children (he doesn't parent them) my sister does. He doesn't earn. He can't do bills (or he chooses not too and makes such a fuss that he gets away with it - it is difficult to tell) - he can be enormously funny and make me laugh my head off - but he will not act in the way a normal, responsible adult will act and I presume that THAT is what the article is referencing.


Well-Known Member
It's largely arbitrary. Generally, late adolescence is considered adulthood. But nowadays, people are growing up faster as far as physical, sexual, and cognitive development.

Mr Stewart

Well-Known Member
That article makes some very tenuous links between financial and employment stats to bolster an unrelated point about maturity differences. It also seems to suggest that women are apparently immune from arrested development, which is some pretty wildly unfounded conjecture.

I take issue with the way it cites a rising education level and mean income for women as a growing trend that will obviously continue steaming ahead in future at its current rate, ignoring the fact that these growth rates have a lot to do with our previously male dominated society. Education, employment, and income opportunities are reaching parity amongst the genders: clearly this indicates men are slacking. Come on. Rewrite the article when the figures show a female dominated economy, then I will listen to claims about the failings of the modern male. All these stats show is that society is making strides towards gender blind industry, which is supposed to be a good thing.

Some adult males are immature, true. Some adult females are as well. There are no figures that show that this is a growing trend or is anything new to our species whatsoever.

As for what makes an adult (besides physical attributes); all it means to me is taking responsibility for the things you've committed yourself to and respecting the autonomy of others. Not age dependent.


Well-Known Member
Ability to look after themselves? Not be dependant? Have a drive? See more than just themselves? Make what they want happens? Personal honesty? Create an idealogoy of what an "adult" is and spread the mass infection onto others? Give a shit about what people think of you? Oh wait.. Welcome to the jungle?

Obviously im not an adult by an means necessary. I struggle to find a purpose in all this monotonous sugar coated bullshit in life. Yeah, Ill run a rat race and probably be stimulated and happy, but... Why...:turtle:
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