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When will I grow up?

Dad, when will I grow up? When will I become an adult?

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That’s not an easy question to answer. Not only do different children mature at different rates but, paradoxically, as a nation we seem to have a seemingly arbitrary collection of ages about when we are considered mature enough to be treated as an adult. Some of these age thresholds, I’m sure, have been grandfathered in from a historic perspective and just never changed. Some, I’m sure, have been motivated by political pressure. Others appear like common sense.

“Dad, when will I grow up? When will I become an adult?”

Below is a (non-complete) list of various ages in which you are considered an adult, in various situations. Different contexts seem to suggest conflicting arguments about when we should be allowed to make our own decisions.

At what age would you consider your children old enough to think for themselves? At what age would you say your children have good enough judgement to be responsible enough for their own lives (and the lives of others)?

Should we adopt a single Boolean age classification to simplify things? Should there be a threshold age, below which, you are a child, above which, you are emancipated and an adult?

Are you an adult …

CAVEAT - I researched this article using the internet. Please don’t take the above statements as gospel. Laws are complex, as is their interpretation. Things can change, and I’ve also been known to make a mistake or two. The aim of this article is to be a light-hearted look at the spectrum of thresholds about which society considers people mature, not to provide legal advice!

I never want to grow up

Should there be an "Adult Test", like a driving test, to determine if you are mature enough to do things? If you can't pass, you are not allowed to do adult things?

Alternatively, how about we take a pointer from Peter Pan - the boy who never grew up!


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