'Emerging Adulthood': You Know You're an Adult When...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We're looking at whether adulthood is arriving later in life, while adolescence gets longer. The New York Times Magazine looks at the issue this weekend. And we're asking: When did adulthood arrive for you? Complete this sentence: You know you're an adult when... Maybe it's graduating college? Moving out from your parents' house? Getting married? Let us know what it was for you.

Robin Marantz Henig, who wrote the new New York Times Magazine piece on “emerging adulthood” (a theorized developmental stage that stretches from eighteen to late twenties) explains where various scientists and scholars stand on the state of becoming a grown-up in today's world.

Robin’s daughter Samantha Henig also weighs in. Like her mom, she’s a journalist. And depending on who you ask, she may prove or disprove the notion that “emerging adulthood” is a real developmental stage.


Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [20]

Sarah from Michigan

You know when you are an adult, when you get excited over the silliest things such as a new vaccuum. Or not depending on the parents for financial support.

Aug. 23 2010 04:22 PM
reid Shuping from memphis, tn

you know you're an adult when you realize you're parents aren't as old as you thought.

Aug. 19 2010 04:27 PM
sharon murdock from Lubbock, Texas

You know you're an adult, when your parents aren't around to complain to, or go to when life gets rough.

Aug. 19 2010 01:09 PM
sharon murdock from Lubbock, Texas

You know you're an adult, when your parents aren't around to complain to, or go to when life gets rough.

Aug. 19 2010 01:08 PM
Patrick from Newark, NJ

I graduated from college and went directly into the Army by way of ROTC in 1970. I was shipped to a then small post in Vilseck, Germany near Nuremberg. When I stepped off the train I was immediately given the job of Commanding Officer (CO) of Student Company with 300 men under me. I was only 22 and a 2nd Lieutenant. I had to address them the very next morning. But that wasn't when I grew up. As the CO I had specific responsibilities others could or wouldn't take on. I became and adult when, at 22, I had to tell a 17 year old who was under my care that his father had died in the U.S. We were alone together in my office and he broke down crying. I grew up.

Aug. 19 2010 11:57 AM
Steve Murdock

This is very simple: go out to the garage or bacck yard, gather up all of your garden hose, connect end to end, measure the length. If the total exceeds 300 feet you are an adult, other wise you are not. (Urbanites could use extension cords similarly.)

Aug. 19 2010 10:57 AM
Nicole from NJ

I agree with the variety of answers relating to adulthood from others. Anecdotally, just the other day I said to some friends - you know you're an adult when friends start lending you their apartments and not the couch.

Aug. 19 2010 09:48 AM
Lisa from South Salem, NY

While there were times in life I felt grown up (traveled alone, financially independent, buying major appliances for my house) I truly felt like an adult when my first son was born and I realized I was responsible for another human being. That was a sobering and awesome feeling like nothing else I had experienced before.

Aug. 19 2010 09:19 AM
Marcus from Boston

You know you are an adult when you accept responsibility for your mistakes. It's not about an age or paying bills, it's about acting like an adult.

Aug. 19 2010 09:08 AM
Stephanie from Washington, DC

I knew I was an adult when random children from all walks of life started calling me "Miss" and "Ma'am" and other adults started asking me to stop calling them "Ma'am" and "Sir".

Aug. 19 2010 09:07 AM
Chuck from Boston

I knew I was an adult when I got my first bill to pay back my student loans and realized how much debt I was already in.

Aug. 19 2010 08:34 AM
Isabella from Brooklyn, NY

I think I felt something of an adult shortly after I got pets, and moved out of my parent's house as I was turning 30. The pets forced me to be more responsible for sure and they gave me TONS of patience I never had prior to owning them. Moving out of my parent's house as well led to having to be more responsible, naturally. I think it wasn't until I was 31 that I felt I could say I was "an adult" because I developed a Zen approach to life, I stopped being angry about things and people I could not change, I developed more patience, tolerance and understanding of the world and people and became honest with myself and with people but aspects of my personality now in my 30's are as they have never been before. I am rather childish, playful, facetious, and not ready to be referred to as a 'woman' or an 'adult', I don't care what anyone thinks about that, it just is as I feel. I can't quite explain it, I suppose I feel more comfortable in my skin now or it's merely neoteny, looking 24 doesn't help I suppose. I am definitely happy I got into my 30's and didn't settle down or have kids sooner because these are the best years of my life, thus far.

Aug. 19 2010 06:33 AM

Ha! I am 29, and just this morning I was talking to my mother and she said she came across my old diaries from ten years ago and had been reading some of them. I just laughed. I was a bit surprised by my response and then I realized hey, I'm an adult. Who cares? I think you are an adult the moment you truly take responsibility for your own life and all your actions (past and present).

Aug. 19 2010 04:04 AM
Lisa from New je

25 was the magic number for me as a kid. I was six years old at the the time and a grown up that I loved was 25. So 25 meant grown up....that is until I was 25 and didn't feel like a grown up. I am 45 now and only posing as an adult....I still feel like a kid!

Aug. 18 2010 11:40 PM

I'm 29. I'm married to my college sweetheart. In 2008 we bought a home in Massachusetts. We're solvent. How did we get here? Not being picky. Taking jobs that paid the bills. Going to school part-time and being thankful we were employed!

Aug. 18 2010 11:37 PM
Jennifer from Manhattan, village

I knew I was an adult when I moved to NYC at age 30, just finished ph.d., had to pay high rent for an embarrassingly meager apartment with no student loans and a low paying job. No one wanted my ideas carefully articulated on paper everyday (what flattery!), and I wasn't even close to being the cutest or cleaver-est person around.

Aug. 18 2010 09:44 PM
Alisa from Minneasota

You know you are an adult when you are paying rent... And it's not to your parents!

Aug. 18 2010 07:58 PM

When haven't I been an adult? Since I was 1.5 years I had an epiphany that I was my own person. This is something that never set well with my family, but they've learned to respect it, sometime in my 20's.

Aug. 18 2010 07:37 PM
Julie from New York

I had to laugh at Paul's comment - my own transition into adulthood was somewhat the same. I knew I was a grown-up when my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday and all I could think of was a self-defrosting refrigerator.

Aug. 18 2010 07:03 PM
Paul from Dubuque, IA

I knew I'd reached some level of maturity when purchasing a washer and dryer. After they were delivered, there seemed to be a major transition for me.

Aug. 18 2010 03:27 PM

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