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At what point is a child not a child?

I see questions on here about at what point can a child to this or that... And responses referring to teens as children... To me, a teen is NOT a child, they are capable of taking care of themselves physically, thinking for themselves and in some cases even able to care for their family or parents (as my DH had to do) both physically and financially. They aren't CHILDREN, they are young adults. In other parts of the world adult and child are defined much differently... So at what age is someone no longer a CHILD? When do you see someone as beyond that?

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Asked by SabrinaMBowen at 4:27 PM on Oct. 6, 2010 in Parenting Debate

Level 40 (122,988 Credits)
Answers (19)
  • I understand where you are coming from, but to me, they are children until they move out of my house. Meaning, when they are ready to fully stand on their own two feet and support themselves. Yes, that can mean different things to different people, but in my eyes, my responsibility of supporting them ended when they graduated and either left for school, or got a full time job.

    Answer by m-avi at 4:38 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

  • I think we are all always a child in some way. I am my mother and fathers child and that will be true forever. Me and my husband are still referred to as "the kids" and we're grown adults with kids of our own! I think from the time we are conceived, until we've reached the very top of the "age chain" and there is no one older than us to call us kids... we're kids/children to someone.

    More realistically, I would probably say "child" from conception to age 20 or so... maybe a little later, like 25. Humans are still very immature at 20.

    Answer by LeanneC at 4:38 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

  • A child is ALWAYS a child if they have parents or grandparents. :) As for the debate of if and when they should do certain things, I think it depends on the legalities (laws and such for what they want to do) and their mentality/maturity levels. If we are basing things on when they are capable of doing things for themselves then my five year old CHILD (in my eyes) is no longer a child. She can do many things for herself that much older children can because she is advanced. I will base my childrens new responsibilities and lifestyle changes on their mentality and maturity when the time comes. I don't think there is one definant answer to this question, nor will there evere be... of course minus the fact that when they turn 18 they are legally considered an adult.

    Answer by Memigen at 4:41 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

  • I think it really depends on the child. some kids are more mature than others. . some 13 year olds are very capable or taking care of themselves in some aspects but still need the freedom to make mistakes and such or being a child. They still need guidance, hello TEEN MOM!!! They still need our attention and parenting . .. but yes young adults may work with some. . .

    Answer by Huntersmom209 at 4:43 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

  • Really it depends on the maturity of the individual....A lot of teens still act like children (in their ability to take care of themselves properly and make wise decisions) at 17,18, 19 years old

    Answer by Evansmommy91 at 4:46 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

  • I know people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who are children.

    I think the term "child" fluctuates depending on the usage. YES a teenager is a child and YES a teenager is a young adult.... but what he/she can or can not do will vary depending on the individual. I think you are taking the term way too literal.

    I have a two teenagers of my own (and was one at one time)... there are days I am VERY impressed with them.. and other days they are worse than my 9 yr old.


    Answer by sahlady at 4:48 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

  • IMO, a child is a child until he/she is of legal age.

    Answer by dullscissors at 6:26 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

  • I think it depends on the person and how quickly or slowly they develop...there is no "magic" age.....from what I have read a person's brain isn't fully developed in maturity until around the age of 25.....that is why younger people in general have a tendency to be a bit more impulsive and self-centered.

    Answer by Anna92464 at 7:42 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

  • It depends on the individual.

    Answer by lovinangels at 8:14 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

  • Legally, you're a child until you're 18. Unless you've been legally emancipated, you can't sign contracts, estabilsh credit, ect and so on.

    As Anna said, scientifically, the brain is not typically fully developed until your mid-20s. Some of us get there sooner. Some later. My SIL will be 40 in 2 1/2 yrs. She's still not a grown-up. :)

    There are "older kids" - aka teenagers. It's still not the same thing as "adult." There's not a magic number when you turn that corner. It's a developmental stage. Just like some infants start to walk and/or talk before a year and some after. Just like physically mature earlier and some later. It's not a set-in-stone cut-off date. It's about maturity. LIke I said, my almost 40 year old SIL is still not a grown-up. ;)


    Answer by ldmrmom at 11:31 PM on Oct. 6, 2010

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