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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 (41-50):
allycally
by Bronze Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 3:59 PM
Brain development isn't usually complete until 25,I honestly think the age 18 "rule" was made too long ago when ave life expectancy was much young
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Ms.KitKat
by Platinum Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 4:00 PM

 

Quoting cjsbmom:


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. 

 I have told Ds that I will obtain a power of attorney for him if need be. DS is a high functioning Aspergers. He understands his strengths and his weaknesses and has learned to self-advocate. Sometimes though that means he tells me he is having issues and I have to go in to speak to the teachers though!

SunFlower700
by Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 5:18 PM

I have always thought this as well.


Quoting ashellbell:

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


 

kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 5:31 PM
And they grew up to be hardworking, upstanding members of the community, unlike mow, where we baby our teens and they grow up to be welfare bums.

Quoting cjsbmom:

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.


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mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 5:42 PM

I can honestly say I didn't feel like an adult till I was about 22. Research suggests that the brain isn't fully developed until we are about that age. So even thought law says we are "adults" at 18, that doesn't make it so in biological reality. 

What gets my goat is when teens who are parents are expected to behave at a higher standard. Nope. Or are expected to do stuff that is really beyond them at that point in time. I had my son at 18 and my mother totally recognized I was in over my head and bent over backwards to help me. I still needed parenting myself. That was her choice to make that she really didn't have to, but I'm grateful for. I don't know how I would have graduated high school otherwise. 

I also have come across people of many various ages, going into the 60s, who act like they are children. We humans are not rational or logical. We make stupid decisions and we mess up. Often. We cannot expect people to know "better" beyond an arbitrary age. It's an exorcise in futility. I will work with someone where they are at, not where I personally want them to be. Unreasonable expectations based only on age and age alone is ludicrous. 

krysstizzle
by on Apr. 20, 2013 at 5:42 PM

That's quite the broad brush.

There have always been idiots and bums, all throughout human history, just as there are now. 

Quoting kailu1835:

And they grew up to be hardworking, upstanding members of the community, unlike mow, where we baby our teens and they grow up to be welfare bums.

Quoting cjsbmom:

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.



mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 5:55 PM

I do not understand helicopter parenting. It makes zero sense to me. I remember when my son was small and still going to the local park there were parents following their perfectly able kids all over the equipment. Not playing with them, just following them. I let my son do what he wanted. I don't remember him ever falling off the equipment. He's pretty spry. 

When I was in school I didn't even let my mother see my transcripts. She wasn't paying my tuition. I caught hell for that something fierce. She still brings it up. When she asked to see them after the first and second semester I flat out refused. I felt that she had absolutely no business seeing my grades. I was going to sink or swim on my own. I also didn't need her unending criticism about my grades or GPA. I was under enough stress as it was and she can be super critical. Even now, just today she told me my hair looked like a mop, then made a hair appointment, told Judy (hair stylist we've been seeing since forever) to cut it shoulder length, handed me $20 and sent me out. I know her heart is in the right place but by God I would love it if she would cut the goddamn umbilical cord. 

And I only got an inch trimmed. Screw shoulder length. I like my hair long. Ugh. 

Quoting talia-mom:

I am totally looking at it from my own perspective, but I have known very few people that I didn't think were mature enough to be seen as an adult at 18.

Hell, several friends and I toured around Europe for 4 months after we graduated from HS.  Never once did anyone question if we were mature enough to do that.

I think we often have decided now that 26 is the new 18 and 18 is the new 14 for some reason.  Part of it is the giganitc rise of helicopter parents.  I have friends who teach college and parents argue with them about their child's grade.   Many parents don't know when to let go.

Quoting FromAtoZ:
Quoting talia-mom:
When you can pay your bills, then you can set your rules.

18 is the legal age we have. We need one and I think it is the best age to do it.

I agree with the first sentence.  

The second sentence, while I do see they why I really think 18 is still a kid and most are not fully responsible without the help, or the shoulder, of mom and dad.  But yes, there does need to be an age.  Parents do not want to be legally responsible for their children any longer than they have to.  

I just find myself shaking my head, more often than not, at the way most think that that magical birthday means the individual has changed over night. 

kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 5:57 PM
Yes but to a much lesser extent. The longer kids are babied at home, the less likely they are to be bums. Obviously its not a given, but you can lessen the chances.

Quoting krysstizzle:

That's quite the broad brush.

There have always been idiots and bums, all throughout human history, just as there are now. 

Quoting kailu1835:

And they grew up to be hardworking, upstanding members of the community, unlike mow, where we baby our teens and they grow up to be welfare bums.



Quoting cjsbmom:

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.



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SWasson
by Bronze Member on Apr. 20, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Any cutoff point is going to be arbitrary.

turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Apr. 20, 2013 at 6:35 PM

You have to start being a legal adult at some stage.  Do I think they are capable of everything ...no.  But I do think their comes a time when children have to be fully responsible for their actions.

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