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How Do You Act Like An Adult? Pointers, Experiences & Theories Please!

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by Ms Spock, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. Ms Spock

    Ms Spock Free of Suicidal Ideation. Premium Member

    I have been thinking for some days now. What is an adult?

    How do you act like an adult?

    What are the characteristics of an adult?

    This is a serious question how do you act like an adult? What are the main pointers?
    Do you know? Did someone share that with you?

    What is a person? What makes them an adult? What are adult responsibilities? How do you find out what they are? What are the characteristics of an adult in different cultures?
    gamereign555, Sqweak and Srain like this.
  2. Anna

    Anna VIP Member

    Responsibility mainly. When you are a child, someone takes care of you. You have no responsibilities.

    As an adult you have to make decisions, pay taxes, get a job, take care of yourself and dependants. Responsibility.

    Behaving in a childish manner or being silly, does not count. That is just having fun. Of course there is a time and a place for everything. Being childish and silly during a serious meeting in a no go, as is keeping your mouth shut and caring about other peoples feelings.

    Being an adult you have to take responsibilites for yourself and dependants. Be respectful and care about how your actions may hurt or damage others.

    Sometimes children can be more responsible than some adults!! Being 18 or 21 is just a number, in the eyes of the law you are an adult. However, if you are not responsible, then in some ways you are still a child, that is why in some countries they have the juvenile law where they access the age of the adult and their responsibility level.

    Reponsibility for me is paying the bills, driving safely, caring for your dependants, making sure there is food in the fridge, clothing, clean house, job, windows shut, door locked. Family Planning!! I think the list maybe endless!!

    Western culture, kids tend to grow up later. In Africa, kids are given more responsibilities at a younger age such as gathering food and water.
    Ms Spock likes this.
  3. Helliepig

    Helliepig VIP Member

    I guess it's about coming at something uncluttered with emotions from childhood that make you want to play games, get attention, be defensive. It's about being assertive and facing up to things. It's about deferring gratification until you've done your chores, keeping a budget rather than buying things on a childish " I want it" whim. Thinking of others. Being what children need in order to help them mature and grow. It's also about letting go of the deep beliefs of childhood - being rescued, being good, trying harder - to avoid your pain, and to learn to face life head on.

    My T has been trained in transactional analysis that talks about the parent, adult and child, and often helps me to understand the interaction between those within myself - and also what happens when my child or parent state is interacting with those of someone else. It has really helped me understand what an adult is.
    BloomInWinter, Tosh and Ms Spock like this.
  4. Hashi

    Hashi VIP Member

    The adult in me says that being an adult means being aware that actions have consequences (good or bad).

    The child in me says that being an adult means being able to do what you like, but then they only do boring things.

    I think it's really somewhere in the middle. We have more choice, but we also think about consequences. I think to act like a healthy adult means thinking ahead, taking other people's feelings into account and doing things to take care of ourselves.
    Ms Spock likes this.
  5. freakofnurture

    freakofnurture New Member

    I don't know exactly what an adult is, but I know what I find childish in adults.

    So, according to me, to be an adult you need to abstain from...
    • Being petty and vengeful when dealing with interpersonal conflicts because you can't distance yourself from your own wants and emotions.
    • Refusing to employ diplomacy because 's/he is rude, too!'
    • Mixing emotions into merely practical problems.
    • Being unable or unwilling to consciously work on your own personal growth.
    • Taking yourself too seriously.
    • Not being self-sufficient and self-governed.
    • ... I've forgotten something... hm...
    Writing this I came to the conclusion that to me, a child is defined by its inability to step outside/critically evaluate its own momentary feelings and thoughts, as well as by lacking the maturity and knowledge to make important decisions for itself.

    So, being an adult is - in my view - not defined by what you must or mustn't do, but by how you manage your experiences and decisions.
    heidi and Ms Spock like this.
  6. anthony

    anthony MyPTSD Admin Staff Member Premium Member

    Too many questions IMO...
    By law in most countries, an adult is anyone over the age of 18 years of age. That varies in some instances.

    Quite honestly, I think this borders to much with maturity vs. being an adult.

    There is nothing wrong with being child like at times during adulthood.

    Maturity, responsibility... yet you could still be an actual child. Life experience...

    Far too many questions to really be definitive.
    Anna, Srain, VDWngr1355 and 1 other person like this.
  7. Ms Spock

    Ms Spock Free of Suicidal Ideation. Premium Member

    Okay Anthony,

    That is helpful feedback. I needed to have pinpointed more of what it is that I actually want to know. As you can see by having too many questions I am not able to be precise about the information that I was requiring. I will try not to do this again but to think about it a bit more.

    Yes how do people self govern and be self sufficient? That question interests me greatly.

    Yes because you will not die now.

    I am really stuck on being rescued, trying harder and being good enough so some one will love me.

    That is interesting.
    Eleanor likes this.
  8. Maze

    Maze VIP Member Premium Member

    I guess I am being an adult when I am not fighting over who will eat the healthy choice meal with the celery with my husband.
    Kb3, Srain, Heather and 2 others like this.
  9. freakofnurture

    freakofnurture New Member

    To self-govern you need to be able to identify, distinguish and critically evaluate the various internal and external factors that influence your feelings and thoughts - because it's your feelings and thoughts that produce your decisions. Emotional and social factors are the most important here, meaning that you need to reflect on questions like "Why does this scare me?", "Why do I want it?", "What's the essence of my wanting?" and "Whom am I doing this for?", "Are those ideals really my own?", "Which social dogmas are activated within me?".

    To be self-sufficient you need to cultivate the feeling that you are able to learn and understand everything you need to and that you are resourceful enough to find a solution (even if it takes some time and multiple attempts). You also need to be able to self-soothe, to entertain yourself and to spend time just having your own thoughts as company. In addition to that, you need to know the limits of your individual self-sufficiency, so that you don't crumble under the feeling of having to do open heart surgery, build a rocket ship and beat world hunger, all from the comfort of your hermitage deep in the Gobi Desert where you live off of sand and morning dew.

    I hope those explanations were helpful :)
    Ms Spock and Eleanor like this.
  10. Solara

    Solara VIP Member

    I tend to agree with Anthony on this one.

    It seems to be a question of maturity, not just defining "adult".

    I disagree with Anna, as those of us unable to work (ie on disability) wouldn't be considered adults!
    Ms Spock and VDWngr1355 like this.
  11. freakofnurture

    freakofnurture New Member

    @ScaredOfLonely: 'Society in general' tends to see having a job as vital for you to be taken seriously as an adult. I find that stupid and unhelpful, especially when so many able people just can't find a job. But that's how 'society' thinks, and it's an aspect that deserves some consideration when one wants to explore the possible meanings of the word 'adult' :)
    Srain and Ms Spock like this.
  12. Meadowsweet

    Meadowsweet VIP Member Premium Member

    In western society, being an adult is being able to accept responsibility for your own choices, actions or inactions.

    But, when a person has experienced trauma and especially psychological abuse, being able to understand where responsibility begins and where it ends is complicated. It can lead to taking too much responsibility - feeling responsible for others actions. And it can lead to taking too little responsibility - being dependent on others.

    But, adulthood is also a time of learning and growing into your mature self. Recognising a problem is being responsible, seeking and going to therapy is a responsible action. Learning to understand PTSD and learning how to live and manage those symptoms is part of adult growth.
    Kb3, Srain, ScaredOfLonely and 2 others like this.
  13. freakofnurture

    freakofnurture New Member

    I love seeing all the independent thoughts about adulthood here, and how positive a meaning that word is given by you all.

    Since we are all injured, vulnerable people this might implicate yet another dimension of meaning:

    Being an adult means to be able to defend oneself, to be able to stand up, to speak up, to insist that your rights and needs are respected. Being an adult means to demand that you're taken seriously. It also means that you aren't a helpless victim.
    Srain and Helliepig like this.
  14. Helliepig

    Helliepig VIP Member

    This is so true. Being able to get away from bad people, to choose your friends, to learn about healthy relationships, to exercise control
    Ms Spock, Tosh, Heather and 1 other person like this.
  15. Solara

    Solara VIP Member

    Freak,
    I am well aware of what society thinks. I am in my early 30's and haven't been able to work for almost 4 years. Employment status is more of a core "who are you" kind of thing rather than defining me as an adult.

    Meh, this topic is triggering as I fight tooth and nail to move back into functional society but then have it pointed out that I'm still a second class citizen.

    Good day to you all...
    Ms Spock likes this.
  16. freakofnurture

    freakofnurture New Member

    You aren't a second class citizen and damn everybody who thinks you are or treats you like one, just because you don't fulfill society's indiscriminate, unrealistic demands.
    Eleanor and Ms Spock like this.
  17. maddog

    maddog VIP Member

    Others have beaten me to the key point here, the one thing that I feel distinguishes adults from children, and indeed, adult humans from all other life forms...

    It is the ability to make choices, to choose one's behaviours and one's path through life. It's the ability to utilise resources or to seek to access them if necessary, the ability to take control of one's immediate destiny.

    I'm not saying that adults have the ability to control it all of course, we can only ever control our own behaviour, but what separates adults from children isn't intellect or employability, it's the ability to choose, to take control and to be responsible for one's own actions. Children rely on adults for this, and adults have a responsibility to children in these areas, where children do not have such control or the ability to choose or to act in their own best interests.

    It's why child abuse is never the fault of the child, no matter what.
    It's why adults always have the responsibility to do right by the child, even when that adult may feel disempowered or unable to do so.
    It's why parenthood is the greatest, yet the most brutally disrespected, responsibility that we humans can ever have.

    Maddog
    Kb3, Eleanor, Ms Spock and 2 others like this.
  18. Srain

    Srain "Please don't tell me not to cry." Premium Member

    I changed my post...it's best at this time that I stay passive ;)

    Great post.

    Peace,
    Rain
  19. sea

    sea New Member

    I think it basically comes down to responsibility. For self & for others.

    Re: Anthony I guess it is more of a philosophical question. For example in most countries adults are any individual over 18, but why that age? Why not another age? In the United States you can't drink until you're 21. You can't drive until you're 16. I mean, in all honesty, ages are pretty arbitrary.

    As you've stated, you can be a responsible and mature child as well. I think adult is more of a legal term than it is a particular philosophical or subjective connotation. For example Everyone Is An Adult when they become of legal age. But, not Everyone is afforded the same capacity as an adult due to their individual capacity (such as, example, a mentally retarded person being ineligible to participate in specific things).

    So I think the real question is what precisely does a person measure when they attempt to measure a person's capacity or maturity? (As, this process does also work in reverse. A person can become emancipated if they go through the right channels, therefore becoming a legal adult sooner.) Why is the legal age what it is? (Considering that most people's brains do not enter the later stages of development until like 25+ years of age, which is when rational/decision making skills become more heightened, most legal ages just seem whimsical.)
  20. freakofnurture

    freakofnurture New Member

    (EDIT: please forgive the redundancy of this first point, my brain's not quite awake -.-)Not really. Developmental psychology and neurobiology can inform legislation when it comes to ages. As cognitive abilities and emotional maturity can be measured and you can pinpoint ages at which a certain percentage of people score high enough on this or that scale.

    People between 18 and 21are evaluated psychologically to determine if the legal system should treat them as an adolescent or an adult before they are sent into trial. In this age range there's a lot of heterogenity when it comes to psychological development. In other age ranges there's less difference.
  21. sea

    sea New Member

    Most conclusive studies on developmental psychology and neurobiology indicate that the brain does not begin to enter the later stages of growth (in which one could be considered a fully rational cognizant human being) until at least 25.

    http://www.thebrainwizard.com/braindevelopment/development
    http://www.childrenshospital.org/dream/summer08/the_teenage_brain.html
    http://www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/bbb/brainTimeAdolescence.php
    http://www.wccf.org/pdf/dahl.pd

    The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is associated with response time, decision making, sequencing, precision and executive functions. Which are all items measured when testing for cognitive capacity. An 18 year old scores much, much, much lower than someone even 23 or 24. It's an entirely irrational system.

    The complete jumps in the standard legal age for adulthood over the last, even a hundred years, definitely support my statement. I have no doubt that as we learn more about the brain, that legal age will end up changing in the future as well.

    If one wanted to measure the legal system by cognitive development, a legal adult wouldn't begin to surface until at least 25. Take a look at car crash statistics when you get a chance. The median population providing those statistics are below the age of 30.

    You're referring to legal competence in trial, which is a different matter altogether (and, with reference, you are correct regarding the procedures relating to legal competence, which is a different matter than legal age [subtle as the differences may be, I suppose]).
    Ms Spock likes this.
  22. BloomInWinter

    BloomInWinter Meeting My True Self Staff Member Premium Member

    Hmmm....good topic!

    I don't want to act like most adults.

    I want to be a dependable, responsible, caring, assertive, compassionate, independent person who can be safe in the world but enjoy my time with my loved ones.

    To 'be' this, I only need to 'act as if' I already am this, and then not beat myself up when I do it less than perfectly. :>

    Not easy at all!
  23. freakofnurture

    freakofnurture New Member

    Of course, but change doesn't necessarily imply arbitrariness, especially not when you're talking about the process of understanding natural phenomena like brain- and personality development. The cultural variability could certainly be seen as a factor of arbitrariness, but I, personally, don't do that since there is reasoning (and not a pair of dice) at the basis of each decision.
    This depends on what you want from a legal adult.
    A practice effect could explain that. And the tendency to overestimate of one's own competence turns people over 30 into dangerous participants in motorised traffic, too. You have to weigh different factors against each other, also you have to consider the fact that when new legal freedom is given to a person, no matter at what age, they will start out clumsy; that can't be combatted by postponing the legal age.
    Is it a coincidence that this legal competence thing overlaps with the legal ages of 18 and 21?
  24. sea

    sea New Member

    It implies arbitrariness when you look at the cultural standards of employment over the last two hundred years. It goes from age 8 all the way to 18. What it implies is that people really have no idea what the heck they are doing, and they barely know what they even know, let alone what they don't. My initial point was that the age at which a person becomes a legal adult is not reflective of some kind of universally understood maturity.

    It could explain that but you are basing your responses off of self-theorization and guesswork. If you look at actual causes for crashes and documented neuromotor development of teenagers, their reaction time and ability to make the correct logical decisions the quickest is significantly, drastically lower. This is usually the number one cause for accidents. Everything else is as you said a product of individuality. But if you bring individuality into it, you don't really have an argument at all, do you? You just have a bunch of people, lol.

    A child can be declared legally competent to stand as a witness in trial or even be a defendant, of which there are many documented cases (controversial though they are, because most people tend to say that "anyone under the age of 18 cannot be tried as an adult", because, of course, the Legal Age Of Adulthood). It is up to the individual jurisdiction to decide each and every one of these cases. There was recently a child charged with murder, there's a thread about it somewhere around here.

    My original point, as it was stated, is that legal age seems to encompass a socially recognized advent of "maturity" upon suddenly reaching this "miracle number" of 18. But, as is clearly noted, maturity is not often related and is a different concept to adulthood. In my opinion, "adult" is a legal term and maturity and responsibility are what that legal term attempts to measure.
  25. freakofnurture

    freakofnurture New Member

    Psychology is working on it :)
    Individuality is a bell curve, and you can build an argument on a bell curve.
    Yes, I know; it's horrible. And that's why the legal system needs to work towards a 'unified theory of how to be a grown up' fast. The cultural variability can be a threat to humane justice.
    I am. Sorry 'bout that.
    It can be, depending on where it's used :D But otherwise I agree with you on the point you made.
    sea likes this.

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