Marking the Beginning of Adulthood

Thursday, May 31, 2012

On yesterday’s show, The Takeaway discussed the supposed problems with kids today. But that begged the question: when, exactly, is a kid no longer a kid? When does childhood end and adulthood begin?

It’s a confusing question. At age 18, an American is old enough to fight, and die, for his or her country, but not old enough to buy a beer. At age 16, one can obtain a driver’s license, but not rent a car. And at age 17, one can get married in some states, but not in others.

Haris Durrani is an engineering student at Columbia University, as well as a research intern at the school’s robotics lab and an editor at Scholastic. He just turned 19 on Monday. But does he consider himself an adult? Dr. Barbara Hofer is a professor at Middlebury College who specializes in educational, developmental, and cultural psychology. She is the author with Abigail Sullivan Moore of "The iConnected Parent: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up."       


Haris Durrani and Barbara Hofer

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [5]


If we have to have a government sanctioned age, I think we should go back to the age 21 that was in place when I grew up. By that time "kids" have a little more life experience from college, work, life. Surely people mature at different levels, based on upbringing, life experiences, etc. We currently have an 18 year second year college student in our home. There are days she is mature and other days when she is "8". The thought that she can vote, fight, get married, etc., actually scares me. She does not have the maturity level for any of those things. Our society wants our 2 year olds to be grown, so what else can we expect.

May. 31 2012 12:47 PM
bruce morse from Seattle (Spokane)

After college (22) I got my first real job in television, a station some 300 miles from my parents home. I also rented my first apartment. Two weeks later loaded up my dirty clothes and dishes in my little MG and drove the 300 miles back to mom and dads house. I told my mom I had brought them home for her to wash and clean. She said put them back in your car and wash them at your house. That's when I realized I was on my own, I was officially an adult.

May. 31 2012 12:09 PM
Heidi FreeSpirit Houston from Stillwater, OK

I'm 51 yrs old & I'm still not sure that I'm an adult. I have figured out one thing tho, to remain young is to remain immature!

Hopefully, I'll live to a ripe old age like my grandmother! She died just 7 days short of her 105th birthday! And her Inner Child stayed loud & proud! Once a kid always a kid!

Never lose your Inner Child!

On the serious side, I truly believe that Positive Perception and Realistic Outlook plays a key role in staying young! Life will always have its ups and downs with very real ups and very real downs. To see life for what it is means to Allow Life & to Accept It for what it has to offer - which is to always add to the Strength of who we are!

May. 31 2012 11:01 AM
Mark from NH

Although I felt like a "man" when I was sworn-in to the army on my 17th birthday, I didn't exactly feel like an "adult" since I needed my fathers signature. "Drinking Age" didn't do it, either; since I was living in Mexico when I became "legal" [there was no "drinking age" where I was, or, at least, it wasn't something we were aware of]. Getting married didn't really put me through that realization, since [at 23] we were both still young and giddy and just feeling like a couple of kids in love. I'm sure I must've felt like an "adult" when we had our first kid, but I can't recall since I was too caught up in that amazing "father-thing". I guess I really felt like an adult when they stopped carding me for cigarettes [well into my 30's]. Or maybe it was when I realized that my marriage had ended-and that I was a single father of two? I don't know.

May. 31 2012 09:26 AM
Theresa from Boston

After paying my own way through college, holding down a job, then saving for and buying a house by the age of 28--and doing all of these things by myself with NO help from others because I came from a poor family that didn't know how do such things)-- I still didn't see myself as an adult. I guess I just figured that "being an adult" meant that I somehow would come to a point when I didn't feel anxiety and somehow understood the mysteries of life. At 28, I still liked to go clubing, still wanted to find a man to marry, to have babies, and to have a career. I had none of these things, just a blue-collar job, a career, and a fixer-upper.

The day I first felt like an adult was after living in my house for a year or two. I walked outside to my front yard and looked up to see the neighborhood children (7 and 8 year olds) all crawling on my neighbor's garage like it was a jungle gym. They looked up like startled little woodland creatures and froze. I smiled at them as if to say, "you know you that is not safe," and pointed to the ground with authority. They all scrambled down in a flash. Those kids are in college now. ... I first felt like an adult not after I proved I could be responsible for myself, but after children saw me as the authority. I always chuckle when I think of that gang. They were so mischevious. : )

May. 31 2012 07:21 AM

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