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What's so magic about the age 18?

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The other post about censorship (and the reason it was started) got me to thinking. 

What is so magical about the age of 18 that suddenly turns a formerly immature 17-year-old teenager into an instant adult? The "he or she is 18" argument gets used a lot, so it prompted to me explore the question. 

While I'm sure there are some very mature 18 year olds out there, they are the exception to the rule in my experience. I often hear the justification that at 18, "kids" should be allowed to do X, Y or Z, even if they still live under their parents' roof and still are in high school. It's like that magic number has suddenly turned them into rational human beings able to make complex decisions without any help from anyone. 

Personally, I have a family member who is a very (and I mean very) immature 19 year old. She's so immature that I don't really look at her and consider her an adult capable of making her own decisions. 

So I ask, what is it about 18 that makes you (general) think that person is suddenly capable of making solid decisions and no longer needing the help of a parent? 



by on Apr. 20, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Replies (31-40):
sheramom4
by Bronze Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 2:46 PM
1 mom liked this

 


Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 Yep! This I think is responsible parenting. But to add, not only teaching our children how to make choices, but allowing them to suffer the consquences of those choices as well! I think the suffering part is THE hardest part in parenting.

Quoting sheramom4:

This is why I have been working on my kids being able to make good choices, having life skills, and a certain ability to decide things for themselves their entire lives. DS will be 18 this year. He decides 99.9% of everything on his own. I will guide him, I will give him advice, but I rarely decide for him. He has a bank account, he has responsibilities. He knows how to cook, he knows how to run a household. Oldest DD is 14 and although she doesn't make all of her decisions for herself, but she has the life skills necessary to do so if need be. And with my younger two we are working on it.

I have never censored much of anything when it comes to what the kids read, watch, listen to. There are a few things. But we are also big believers in self-censorship. My youngest will leave the room, decide to wait to read a book, turn off the radio if there is something she doesn't like in it or feels is too much for her and she is 9. We obviously don't allow porn and oldest DD and I had to have a talk about 50 Shades of Grey when she asked me to get it for her. Once she found out what it was about, she had no interest in reading it.

 

That is definitely the hardest part. So far, the teens are pretty good about making good choices. The younger two (11 and 9) the "bad" choices usually revolve around watching a movie that will give them nightmares or with middle DD, walking to the skate park with her friends knowing that she will be grounded when I catch her (and I always catch her). It has happened twice and both times she was grounded and lost freedoms she had earned. I knew she was going to do it the second time. Same group of friends, same basic attitude when I reminded her not to. But I had to let her do it and see the consequences.

 

momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 2:47 PM

There's no magic number, but I think 18 is reasonable.  I think 18YOs are old enough to vote, and certainly they're physically capable of having jobs and taking care of themselves. Most have been through 12+ years of education.    Absent developmental disability, I don't have a problem with 18, although it is arbitrary.  I think in the USA it's been 18 because that's the age at which teenagers in general are supposed to finish high school.  

kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 3:23 PM
probably because we shelter our kids too much. It used to be that kids in their midterms were already apprentices, so by the time they had reached legal majority, they were full blown adults, ready to take on the world... Or a family. These days, we have forced our kids to be kids until they're 18, so when they reach legal majority, they are still just kids, who go out and make stupid decisions. But there's nothing we can do to continue to protect them, so they can do whatever they want.
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cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Apr. 20, 2013 at 3:41 PM


Quoting Ms.KitKat:

 

Quoting cjsbmom:


Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting ashellbell:

You got me. I think 18-21 are still just kids. I have an unpopular opinion, I know.

Your opinion is spot on with  mine.

Often times, I feel that that 'legal' age should not be as low as it is.

However, in raising it that would bring parents back in to the fold of being legally responsible for their children longer.  Most are not willing or in favor of this.

How would you like to be me? With the way special education laws are set up, my son will be legally responsible for his autism treatment and his school IEPs when he turns 14. Personally, I think that is way too young for a child with special needs to be deciding on what is best for the treatment of their special need. This is probably why so many people go without proper mental healthcare in this country, because they are legally allowed to deny it at age 14. 

 THIS is my life. I have a ds on the cusp of turning 18 and still in high school. He has aspergers and has been able to particpate in his IEP meeting since age 14 and make decsisons related to the plan. Once he turns 18 in 2 weeks, ds has to give us, his parents his permission to be invited into the IEP meeting. If ds does not allow us in, we will have no say in what goes on. In fact, we will be observers only in just 2 weeks in his IEP meeting. And he has 1 more year of high school to get through.

BUT: he can register to vote ( he is very much looking forward to registering as republican, be still my democrat heart) and he will have to register for the military. He is also legal in the eyes of the law.  My ds, a mere kid who we, his parents fully support in every aspect.  He will now have personal resposnibility allowed by law when he still comes to me to quiet his anxiety and talk him through a panic attack.

Isn't it ridiculous? Whoever decided on this process for special ed kids needs a good slap upside the head. 


cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Apr. 20, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Back in those days, life expectancies weren't as long as they are now, so kids *had* to grow up quicker. 

Quoting kailu1835:

probably because we shelter our kids too much. It used to be that kids in their midterms were already apprentices, so by the time they had reached legal majority, they were full blown adults, ready to take on the world... Or a family. These days, we have forced our kids to be kids until they're 18, so when they reach legal majority, they are still just kids, who go out and make stupid decisions. But there's nothing we can do to continue to protect them, so they can do whatever they want.



ms-superwoman
by Silver Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 3:48 PM

I don't think there is any magical age. I just think the government needs a line in the sand and a set of rules.

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Apr. 20, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Good question. I've often wondered that myself. I think in many cases it's simply a case of sink or swim, especially for those in foster care.

ChancesMommy07
by Silver Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 3:57 PM

IDK. I moved out, got an apartment, had a job, and started college the year I turned 18. Most of my friends did the same. I just thought thats how it was done.

Debmomto2girls
by Platinum Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 3:58 PM
My 15 year old is the same. When a friend was reading 50 Shades she asked me about it. I explained it and she said she had no interest. She does not like romantic type books at all.

Quoting sheramom4:

This is why I have been working on my kids being able to make good choices, having life skills, and a certain ability to decide things for themselves their entire lives. DS will be 18 this year. He decides 99.9% of everything on his own. I will guide him, I will give him advice, but I rarely decide for him. He has a bank account, he has responsibilities. He knows how to cook, he knows how to run a household. Oldest DD is 14 and although she doesn't make all of her decisions for herself, but she has the life skills necessary to do so if need be. And with my younger two we are working on it.


I have never censored much of anything when it comes to what the kids read, watch, listen to. There are a few things. But we are also big believers in self-censorship. My youngest will leave the room, decide to wait to read a book, turn off the radio if there is something she doesn't like in it or feels is too much for her and she is 9. We obviously don't allow porn and oldest DD and I had to have a talk about 50 Shades of Grey when she asked me to get it for her. Once she found out what it was about, she had no interest in reading it.

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Kmary
by Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 3:59 PM

In a word?  Nothing.  But legally, there has to be a line drawn somewhere.  We can't go on a case by case basis.  "let's see...you seem old enough to vote, but not you...you seem like you probably could join the military, but you're a bit immature for 18..."

It just wouldn't work.  When it comes to issues of maturity, of course that age is going to vary by person.  When it comes to issues of legality, there has to be one single number.  It's that simple.

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