Most countries in the world recognize 18 years as the right age to acknowledge an individual as an “adult”. They are “supposedly” ready to take care of themselves, get married, support themselves and a family (in some cases) and not to forget, vote. But in some countries, that isn’t an age “adult”enough to smoke or consume alcohol legally.
I have always struggled with this. At 18, I don’t think I was prepared to care for myself or take on a family. I was 22 when I got married and even now when I look back at the years gone by, I often wonder if I would have been a different or better parent, if I had chosen to have my children later than the mid to late 20s that I did have them.
Back to the present, my children are now 20 and 17 and one is deemed an adult while the other is on the cusp to reach that status. I still struggle with the right age to let them be and make their decisions and not interfere in these decisions. To me, they are still young and extremely prone to impulsive decisions without adequate thought into consequences or repercussions. Peer pressure, I feel can still propel them into making some not so “intelligent” decisions.
I find it ironic that they can be deemed an adult when they are not financially stable, mentally still needing guidance and support and still looking up to parents for emotional support. I do understand that coming up with that age isn’t easy since many factors feed into the magic number. There are many cases where the lifestyles are drastically different and the right age to be deemed an adult can mean a life of freedom and choice from certain drastic and tragic experiences.
Having said that, it still doesn’t help me just let go of my children at age 18 and give them full “adult” status. I find certain rules pretty strange as well. For example, a college holds the parent responsible for paying the child’s tuition but said parent has to be given access by the child to view their academic performance. While the parent pays for any tuition, any refunds from said payment is made to the child and has to be endorsed by the child prior to being deposited. They cannot drink or smoke but can make decisions that could compromise their safety.
As a parent, I battle these situations every day. I find myself resorting to their financial dependence to place limitations and rules when it comes to decisions that compromise their safety. I hate to pull the “you are dependent on me” card but I am in most situations left with no other choice. I could say they are adults and let them make their mistakes, be it right or wrong, but I struggle with letting go when they are, in my opinion too young and at times gullible and innocent. I know I have to cut that cord at some point and that point to me seems more realistic and in line with the legal drinking age or when they graduate from their bachelor’s degree. That gives them a fighting chance to find themselves a decent job and a chance at a reasonable living, in addition to giving them a few stress free years of being a student. As for me, that gives me a few more years of ensuring their safety and not having to resort to unpleasant means to establish my authority.
In case you are wondering, we have a truce at home. They have freedom to make their choices in all situations except when it is a question of their safety. Then all bets are off and they will listen to us, even if that means sacrificing on what to them are some fun experiences…