Adulthood is not easy to define. The
dictionary simply defines it as “maturity”
or “the age of majority”. That definition
doesn’t help a young person know, “When do I
become and adult?”
It is clear, however, that the age at which
one becomes an adult has been shifting
higher. Delayed adulthood is a reality.
Adulthood involves reaching specific markers
in life, most of which follow the end of
formal education. As the years spent in
formal education were extended from eight
years to twelve to eighteen, the start of
adulthood was delayed as well.
nine markers of adulthood
Adulthood is easier to
describe than to define. Most people are
considered adults when they reach a set of
markers. The markers may vary in importance
The markers are:
you an adult?
- The End of Formal Education – School
is over, “real life” has begun.
- Reaching Specific Ages – 18? 21? 30?
No specific age makes you an adult but
they all have an impact.
- Full-time work – When work becomes the
main thing you do all day.
- Financial independence – When your
parents no longer pave the way for you.
- Living Permanently on Your Own – None
of your stuff is at your parents’ home
- Stabilization of Beliefs – A stable
adult life requires stable beliefs.
- Marriage – This also includes
- Having Children – Your life is not
your own anymore.
- Self-identifying as an Adult – You are
an adult when you know you are.
You probably are
nearing adulthood when some or most of the
following are true…
- You are now someone’s godfather or
- Your alma mater has sent you a
- You know how much a refrigerator
- You are no longer in most of the
pictures on your cell phone.
- You have googled the term 401.k.
- You no longer “feel” what you believe,
you believe it.
- You know what your copay is because it
just went up again.
- Dream job???
- You have bought wedding gifts three
times in one summer.
- You have stopped wondering whether you
are an adult.
- Your back hurts.
- The word poop is a regular part of
your vocabulary again.