Becoming an Adult – Maybe You Shouldn’t Rush It!
Just when does a young person finally enter adulthood? You may be a teenager tired of being treated like a child, eagerly anticipating those freedoms awarded to card-carrying adults. You may be a parent wondering when your offspring will transform from sullen adolescents into mature, responsible adults. Either way, one thing is clear: these changes don’t happen overnight.
Adulthood has many definitions. Biologically, the end of puberty marks the beginning of adulthood, but when does this occur? It varies, but today, the average onset is between the ages of 8 and 13 in girls and 9 and 14 in boys. It takes approximately four years for females and six years for males to become fully developed. This means that adolescents may become ‘biological adults’ when as young as 12 or as old as 20, if not later. Emotional development however persists beyond physical maturity, free from the flurry of hormones released during puberty. Personality and brain structure also continue to develop, so mature behavior may come much later, if ever!
Legally, reaching the age of majority confers adulthood. This usually brings new and exciting freedoms, from voting to purchasing alcohol. As growing up is a gradual process, these liberties are often granted earlier or later than the official age of majority. Laws on these matters vary greatly across the world: in Albania you are considered an adult at 14, whereas in Egypt this does not occur until age 21. In most countries though, including most U.S. states, one is generally considered to be legally an adult at the age of 18. However, this does not necessarily mean you will be treated as such by society.
As a young person yearning to be seen as an adult, you can achieve this by demonstrating your ability to make responsible decisions and understanding the reasons behind your parents’ concerns. As a parent, you can help your teenagers develop into mature adults by knowing when to step back and let them make their own mistakes. Remember though, your teenage years are short, so enjoy the time you have before you need to grow up!