When Are You An Adult?

Every Friday my column appears in a bunch of papers in Ontario and Saskatchewan. This week let’s talk about what it means to be an adult. This week we’ve been talking about how to raise great kids, and my own daughters have chimed in with my 16-year-old explaining why she’s not dating in high school and my 19-year-old explaining why she didn’t rebel as a teen. I thought this was a good way to finish up the series.

When are you an adult.
Canadians rejoiced loudly last week when we were victorious in Olympic hockey. Facebook was taken over for 48 hours by a constant barrage of “Way to Go, Canada!” while #WeAreWinter surged on Twitter.

In the midst of the revelry, though, an American story about freestyle skiing halfpipe gold medalist David Wise caught my attention.

Wise is 23-years-old, and has been married for several years to his wife Alexandra. They have a two-year-old daughter together. NBC reported on his win like this: “David Wise’s alternative lifestyle leads to Olympic gold.”

Being married with a child in your early twenties is now an “alternative lifestyle”, and the statistics actually bear this out.

According to Stats Canada, the average age of first marriage in Canada is now 29 for women and 31 for men.

Even more telling to me, though, was that NBC also added this line: “At such a young age, Wise has the lifestyle of an adult.”

The lifestyle of an adult when you’re 23 and–how shall I put this?–an adult! The fact that we can be so surprised that a 23-year-old is behaving like an adult makes me a little sad.

I was married at 21; when I was 23 I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, who is now studying in second year at university. I raised my kids while I was in my mid-twenties, and still in great shape to lug babies and strollers up flights of stairs in the subway system in Toronto. When Keith and I were first married we started saving like crazy. We budgeted well and managed to scrounge together enough for a small downpayment on a house when we were in our late twenties. It wasn’t a large house, and back then neither of us had very well paying jobs. But we figured out how to stretch our money, and we made it work.

When we announced our engagement back in 1991, many were a little incredulous. How can we be so sure when we’re that young? You need to live more, see more of the world, try more things before you settle down! In fact, “settling down” was portrayed as something bad, as if life ends once you make a commitment. Yet for me, that was more when life began. In fact, happiness studies show that satisfaction comes not from living a carefree lifestyle, but instead from finding meaning and belonging while also feeling productive. Maybe younger people have trouble “finding themselves” because they’re looking in the wrong place.

I’m not arguing that people should get married younger; most people, after all, really aren’t ready.

But maybe that’s the root of the problem: we are raising people to not be “adults” until they reach thirty.

That’s become the culturally accepted norm.

Instead of the teen years being the decade in which you grow up, it’s now the twenties. Is that healthy for a society?
I always believed you were an adult at eighteen, but for that to happen an 18-year-old has to be ready to launch into the adult world. That means they have to know how to maintain a household, including knowing how to cook and clean. They have to know how to manage money. They have to be employable (or at least in school to become employable). They have to be responsible. And few 18-year-olds can accomplish all that unless we as parents start raising them to be adults earlier.

I’m not sure we’re doing favours by extending childhood until people are thirty. Perhaps we’d all be better off if we expected people to act like adults once they were, actually, adults.

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Comments

  1. I could not agree more with your sentiment that we are raising kids to be … well kids for a long time.

    The new norm of “date, cohabitate, and maybe marry at 30″ is seriously delaying maturity and leads to a weaker foundation for marriage. If someone has not found the right mate that is a good reason to delay marriage but that’s not the same as simply drifting along and actively avoiding marriage in your twenties which is becoming the cultural norm.

    This is a reason why striving to be chaste has a good side effect. When a man is saving himself for marriage, he has an incentive to get married young! I am joking a little bit, but not much. We have to stop treating boyfriends/girlfriends like husband/wives and giving cohabitation the status of marriage. If they want the honor of being treated like adults, they should accept adult responsibilities and commitments.

  2. I remember seeing an article about him too. It made me feel like I was behind on being an adult. My husband and I met after we both graduated college and were working. We got married about a year and a half ago and are expecting our first child in September. I’ll be 26 and he’ll be 30. Because of when we got married it makes it a bit more difficult to have started a family earlier. We could have started right when we got married but my husband wanted some time just the two of us before we started. Either way, you make excellent points Shelia! Hopefully my husband and I will do well with our little one.

    • Oh, don’t worry about waiting to have kids at all! The point is that you waited for God to bring you the right mate, and then you gave yourself time to solidify your marriage and get to know each other first! That’s great. You were likely READY earlier, but God had other plans, and that’s fine. My issue is just with those who aren’t ready at all. That’s kind of odd, isn’t it?

      • Yes it is odd. I don’t see how people aren’t ready in college. I wouldn’t have been ready at the beginning but I was by the time I graduated. Thank you for your wonderfully kind words!

  3. Very timely. We have been having the “how old is grown up” conversation a lot in this house lately for some reason – all 4 kids are curious (they range from 13 down to 4yo).

    My goal as a parent is to do myself out of a job. Of course I will still love them when they are grown and gone, but I don’t want to be doing their laundry when they are 25!

  4. Amen, Sheila!

    I’ve read some interesting things about how delayed adulthood relates to the whole teen/pop culture thing that we’ve fallen for, as a culture (USA, Canada, etc.) When our parents were growing up (the 40’s and 50’s) they looked up to adults, their heroes were adults, and they wanted to become adults. “Teenage” was an adjective. The noun, ”teenager” came later. I know that seems trivial, but it reflects a changing attitude.

    My generation (born in the 60’s) had a completely different experience. Teenagers largely had their own culture (music, activities, “heroes”, etc.) that adults were not supposed to understand. It sets up a conflict that need not be there – as evidenced by your daughter’s post yesterday :D So many young people (seems like males, especially) have a Peter Pan syndrome – avoid responsibility for as long as possible.

    We’re pushing back against that! No, my boys will not be quite ready to launch at 18. My oldest will be 18 this July and the expectation (and his goal) is to be in community college, working a PT job, and living at home. (Our family “deal” is that you can live at home rent-free while you’re in school… but not FOREVER! The costs of higher education have sky-rocketed.) They ALL have jobs (youngest is 12). We frequently talk about that goal of working toward independence, and the gradual transfer of responsibilities to them.

    Three cheers for an “alternative lifestyle” ;D

    Julie
    Julie recently posted…ProvidenceMy Profile

  5. Shelia, I appreciate uour column so very much, especially, this one. My husband and I married a year and a half out of high school…I was 19, he was barely 20. We’ve been extremely happy. Oh, and we have 9 children. They range in age from 14-30. Our four oldest are married; we have 6 grandchildren, and we’re expecting our 7th this summer. Our children are precious and dear to us, and of course, we would give our lives for them, but they have been raised to grow up and become adults, to pursue joy in life thru Jesus, not in fun and games. We’ve felt overwhelmed by the goodness and grace of God. So far, as much as we can see and know, they all walk with Jesus. That is a gift from Him bc salvation is from Him. As one of my kids told a friend….in a large family, you learn pretty quick that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Anyway, after now being married for 32+ years, my husband and I are glad for the way we have done life. I probably could’ve gotten married even younger, but I’m happy with how things have worked out. When we got married, my husband said, no kids until he’s done with college. We had 2 before he graduated. Life is good. And life hasn’t always been easy, but God, in His faithfulness, has made everything worthwhile and lovely.

  6. I don’t consider anyone officially an adult until they are 25 years old, due to the fact that it takes until about that age for the brain to fully develop. Prior to that time, individuals are less able to make well thought out decisions b/c their prefontal cortex is not completely developed. Not saying that they can’t be responsible, live on their own, etc, and some people mature faster than others, but generally 25 is the magic number for me.

    • Hey Amy! While I know all about the frontal lobe development, I have to say that I disagree with you just a tiny bit. My hubby and I married at 20 and 19, respectively. We were totally financially independent, bought our own groceries, cleaned our own house, went to church without mom and dad telling us to, had our own adult friends, and more. And no, I wasn’t pregnant! I did get pregnant seven months into our marriage, right after we closed on our first house! We have never lived outside our means, we have money in savings, we have moved several times, and we now have two children that we homeschool. According to all that frontal lobe business, We should not have been capable of all that until five years ago (We’re now 31 and 30, with 11 years of wedded bliss under our belts!). I agree that a lot of today’s “teens” aren’t able to function as adults, but it’s because they have been raised that way. My husband and I were both raised with the expectation that when we left home, we were truly on our own. There was no going back to mom and dad for help if we screwed up. I’ve never once regretted our decision to marry young, and I believe that it is good parenting and the good Lord Jesus that got us where we are today.
      Lindsey recently posted…Teach Your Kids to WorkMy Profile

  7. I was 20 when my husband and I got married (it’s now 7 years and three kids later). I have to say, I think that it was the act of getting married and settling down and having children that really caused me to “grow up.” I think that the one act results in the other a lot of times, whereas people usually wait for it to be the opposite – they want to *feel* more grown up before they act like one, which is why marriage and kids keep happening later and later and later…

  8. I think it is important to not want to continuously delay adulthood, and being willing to accept the responsibilities of marriage is an important thing to do. At the same time, I find it very important to not make marriage *the* thing that says “you’re an adult”. It is really discouraging to be acting as a responsible person and have the subtext be “but you won’t really be an adult till you are married,” especially for people who really want to be. I’m not entirely sure how to mark adulthood in alternate ways, but it seems to me like a line of thought worth pursuing.

    • Hmm.. I think you’re making a good point. Thinking out loud here: My best friend isn’t married yet, but she doesn’t live with her parents, has a great job and is responsible with her finances. I don’t think of her as less of an adult than I am, but I guess if I’m being honest, I do feel like she has a lot less responsibility than I do in some ways. So, I think perhaps it’s really the amount of responsibility that’s the issue here, not necessarily that of whether someone is an adult, per se.
      Thoughts?
      Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie recently posted…A Soggy InterludeMy Profile

    • Yes, I would agree. I would say it’s moving out and paying your own way, or being responsible for yourself. By that measure, of course, many “parents” aren’t adults, either. It’s really whether you accept responsibility for yourself and for others or not, maybe?

    • Bethany, speaking for myself, I *totally* agree with your point that marriage should not be viewed as the definitive definition of adulthood. If so, than Christ was immature! :-)

      I think what many people are talking about is not so much whether someone is actually married but whether someone is actively *avoiding* marriage through a string of unchaste relationships or is cohabitating as an alternative to marrying that person.

  9. Accountability and responsibility are (IMO) the evidences of maturity. As the saying goes, lots of people have physically reached adulthood, but aren’t mature. As a follower of Christ, spiritual maturity is standing for truth regardless of the consequences (http://www.febc.org/jesus-appears-muslim-dreams, last paragraph):

    “When asked if he was afraid to share his faith publicly on the radio, he simply answered, “We’re told by our Lord that we can expect to be persecuted for our faith. My job is to share Christ. The rest I leave in God’s hands.””

  10. At the other end of the spectrum, as a culture we are pushing our young children earlier and earlier. Younger age to start school, clothing choices, attitudes, etc. Combine this with older adulthoood and we’ve got a recipe for adolescence that lasts 2 decades.
    Leanne recently posted…How I talked myself out of buying a vacation home (tax & other implications of owning US real estate)My Profile

  11. Sheila, you have articulated what Jean and I have known for many years. In ways, your story is our story, displaced by one generation. We married in 1962; I was 19, she was 20. The criticisms were fierce, and because we were legally under age we had to threaten elopement before our various parents signed off. I was told by my older brother that I should not marry until I had dated (and slept with) at least 5 or 6 girls to get experience. My answer to him was that I was in love with Jean, she loved me, and that the odds of that happening were exactly equal whether Jean was my first or my fortieth partner. He never really spoke to me again. We were doomed to failure, according to my parents and most of our family.
    Our first son was born two years later, followed by the twins five years later. When we were 56 we adopted and raised two of our grand daughters. We just celebrated our fifty-second anniversary … so much for failure!
    Our daughters are not 23 and 20, and were raised to be adults and independent by the age of 18. We love them more than I can say, and are very proud of them. The eldest is a successful senior hairstylist in Kingston, and the youngest works as a barmaid here in Belleville. She is supporting a 22 year old boyfriend who is a perfect example of the modern youth: a 22 year old teenager. He has been enabled by his mother and has never been forced to grow up. We are having problems with her being 20 going on 24, and him being 22 going on 18.
    This is one of your more amazing columns. Thank you.

  12. I get frustrated with society. But I realized that investing that energy in living out bold, “alternative lifestyles” will do more to effect that society. We start our kids off at 4 doing chores. They learn to budget their money, to give to the church and to help out with the family. My husband and I share household chores and responsibilities. My husband and I hold hands and kiss and flirt. We home school our boys. We have prayer time together and bible study as a family. We sit together in church. In short, we are working together to grow ourselves – marriage, family and individuals – into what were are uniquely designed to be by God.

    Of course society is going to freak!
    Kathryn Lang recently posted…5 Secrets for Pursuing Your DreamMy Profile

  13. On the one hand, I agree completely with you if I am only looking at the non-Chistian world who tends to want to delay responsibility and commitment while still seeking illigitimate physical gratification. I get that.
    On the other hand, I think you’re being a little harsh. I do NOT think that 18 is some magic age where kids become adults. It’s not that I wasn’t responsible at that age, but I definitely thought of marriage as a long way off and wasn’t emotionally, financially, or educationally ready for it. The way you put it makes it sound like a parent has not done their job to “raise their children to be adults earlier” if they don’t feel ready to be fully on their own by the age of 18.
    Let’s take me as a case study: My mother put me in community college classes when I was 16, before I graduated high school. When I was 18 I got really sick for 6 months and that put my graduation off till age 19. I had my first part time job when I was 18, but I wasn’t allowed to get my driver’s license till I was 20. After highschool graduation I went full time in community college for 2 years and then transferred to University the fall I turned 22. My best friend started courting when she was 17 and was married at 20. I was 21 at the time and though many of my friends got married that year, I did not feel ready. Did that mean that I was immature? I don’t think so. Everyone has different goals in life. I didn’t want to be married till I graduated college. My best friend never went to a University. I didn’t want to have the struggle of trying to juggle a relationship, study, and work my two jobs. I could not have affored the expenses of a household. When I DID marry my husband at the age of 24 (I’d actually always wanted to get married at 23, but that didn’t happen) I came into the marriage with no debt. Financially speaking, other than shelter and some food, I had been taking care of myself since I was 18. That includes paying for college, gas, my own car, my own clothes, my own toiletries, some food etc. And I barely made above minimum wage. My husband and I paid for our own wedding. And after we got married I helped pay off his college debt.
    Now let’s look at most of my other friends whose college, car, gas, food, clothes, weddings were paid for, but they felt “ready” to get married earlier. Are they really more responsible and grown up than I am just because I didn’t feel ready? Because my hormones weren’t raging and I wasn’t desperately in love, incapable of waiting another day? Because I had not yet discovered who I was going to marry yet? Because I had my mind and my goals focused on other things?
    My husband is a wounded veteran and went into the airforce when he was 18. He’s 4 years older than I and from a different state. I couldn’t have met him when I was 18 if I had wanted to. When he got out, he had 4 years of college ahead of him. We didn’t get married till he was 28.
    Even though I know I wasn’t ready, don’t you think that I’m a little jealous that I didn’t meet my husband when I was 12 like my best friend did? That I’m a little sad that (since we are planning to wait till I’m 30) I will be an older mom like my mom was? That my body won’t be able to handle things as well and it will be harder to stay in shape? That I envy those hot moms with 9yr olds? That I had less years with my husband and we are already both broken down and tired all the time?
    Now I don’t agree that being married and having a kid at 23 should be called an “Alternate Lifestyle,” but it’s also important to realize that everyone has their own special gifts and their own special calling from God. There is no magic number. People develop at different rates and have different personalities and meet their spouses sometimes not until AFTER God has called them to be single for a long time.

    • KD, I wouldn’t consider you growing up slowly at all, though! You were taking care of yourself at 18. Then you were an adult at 18. What I was trying to say, and I’m sorry if I didn’t say it well, is that we now think it’s strange if people choose to have kids young or get married young, so that it becomes an “alternative lifestyle”. I just think that society would be better off if we were READY to do those things young again, even if we chose to delay marriage and parenthood. The problem, though, is that people aren’t even ready. And I think that’s kind of scary for society as a whole, you know?

      • Yes, but I could not have been launched into the world. And I really didn’t consider myself to be an adult. I still felt young and I didn’t mind being under my parent’s authority as a child in their household.
        Yes, I agree that it’s really dumb to call it an alternative lifestyle. And I see exactly what you’re seeing in TV shows. People just seem to hang out and never really “grow up” or get too serious. But that can be said of people or couples who ARE on their own and support themselves. In that case, I think it’s really more of a mentality of sobriety and focus that is lacking; a resistance to responsibility in general that is polluting the minds of the population. And I’ve seen parents like this, too! So it’s not just about taking care of yourself, or being ready and willing to get married, or having children that is the mark of what you think of as “adult” behavior. I don’t think it can be quantified by age, marital status, or parenthood.

        I think what you are really getting at goes back to that post that mentioned that parents should EXPECT their children to be responsible instead of expecting them to mess up. I think you’re saying society should EXPECT that people can handle themselves as spouces and parents at whatever age they personally deem reasonable and feasible instead of expecting them to spend their 20’s goofing off.

    • Okay, so that was all illustrating from a personal perspective, but now I want to mention that not everyone knows what they want to do with their lives (I didn’t!). It’s okay if you change majors a few times to see where your niche is. How can you expect every 18 year old to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives? Not everyone has that luxury. Also, there are so many more options on professions and majors than there were years ago. And if you are particularly driven, you may want a doctorate in a field where that goal takes 12 years. As long as someone is being chaste, what is the harm that most people are getting married later? These days, things are super expensive and it’s only getting harder to support a family. Sometime it TAKES till the age of 30 to get stable! I know that my husband and I seem to be better off than most of my friends that got married young. A lot of them still received support from their parents in some way after marriage!! I think it’s good to get your act together before you bring someone along with you that automatically inherits your stability or instability. I think that being an adult totally has to do with your amount of responsibility and the way you handle yourself and your relationships. If someone waits until they can fully contribute/ provide for a family, is that not being MORE responsible? Isn’t that being MORE “adult”? Isn’t it better to “find yourself” before marriage rather than after? No matter how long that takes? I know that I would not have wanted to marry a man who didn’t know exactly what he was doing and where he was going and could provide for me. I would also not have wanted to marry a man and then found out later that he had totally different life ambitions than the ones he was pursuing when I met him. I.e. You marry someone in college and then the job they pursue is one where they are gone 6 months out of the year. For me, and I think many others these days, I can see how it is better to wait till your prospective males are at a stage where they know where they are going with their life and you can see if you fit into that plan or if you’d prefer to keep looking.

      • purplecandy says:

        There is also the option of building that plan together ;)

      • Butterflywings says:

        Sometimes it is marriage not time that changes life ambitions. I married my second husband just weeks before his 30th birthday. He was more than mature to happily take on my 10 year old daughter and be a responsible parent for her, and said he wanted to start trying for a family 6 months after we got married and would start trying straight away for my sake (as I am older and have health problems). But as soon as we got back from our honeymoon, his life ambitions changed and he informed he didn’t want to even consider IF he would have children for 5-10 years. At 32 with my reproductive health problems, in 5-10 years I wouldn’t be capable of having children. So before marriage he said he wanted lots of kids, but suddenly within days of getting married, basically he was saying he didn’t want kids at all.

        Thankfully he decided to take the stance to leave it up to God and we now have a beautiful baby girl. But my point is, some people don’t change even after years of being married, others change instantly.

        I am still the same person I was at 18, at 13 when I became a “teenager”, at 19 when I got married the first time and at 32 when I married the second time. One doesn’t have to move out of home – at 13 I was caring for my much younger siblings when my mum was in hospital for months at a time. My grandmother taught us cooking and cleaning and other practical things like sewing (more than my mum knew) and my dad taught us how to manage money. It was the ability to do it, not actually needing to do it, that I think is the measure of maturity.

        Sadly my 26 and 24 year old siblings still can’t do those things, even my sister who has spent the last year living out of home (just around the corner and getting my other brother to be a pseudo parent to her). Neither age nor living out of home, nor even getting married makes a person grown up (my first husband is in his second marriage and is still an unemployed bum, living off his new in laws after ripping my parents off for a fortune, refusing to support my daughter and not doing much for his second child). Being grown up is a choice, an attitude, a state of the mind and heart, totally independent of age and situation.

  14. So well said!! Had a blatant example of this last weekend when we helped friends move. Their 19 year old son, home for Reading Week, was a disaster! He didn’t help with the various car loads we had to pack after the movers were done, didn’t pack up the room he was told to work on, and while two of us 50+ women were involved with the car loads being packed and unpacked at both locations, then staying for 3.5 hours to unpack and set up her her kitchen for her while she cleaned the old house, could only complain about how tired he was!! Needless to say, us two moms didn’t let him get away with it LOL! Told him to quit whinning as we were 30 years older and had done a ton more work than he had, and since he was standing there waiting for the truck to arrive with the next load that had his piano in it (his prized possession) he could help us unpack some boxes and break down the ones we had already upacked. You think it was an intense labour camp by the way he was complaining. Shamed to say we defnitely enjoyed making him work…

    Was a great reminder of how to make sure you train you children right, giving them repsonsibliities, teaching them how to manage money, budget, cook, clean, do laundry, shot for deals, etc. while letting the rope go a bit more with larger responsibilities as they prove themselves capable and dependable with the ones you have given them. Good conversations about life lessons, their days, what they can learn for a situation that may have gone sideways etc. and life in general (as you so eloquently put in a recent post about talking to them about everything) are a huge part of parenting.

    Though I did not marry young (had to find someone who could handle me LOL), I was given all these life skills (perhpas too many as I scared the guys away, as I had a good job, RRSPs, played the stock market a bit, had a will, knew about money management and investment, bought my own place, taught Sunday School and was very involved I my church etc..!) and was able to launch in to adulthood in my 20s. Sadly, it was very hard to find many guys that had the same level of maturity – at least in the church I attended.

    Had to wait, but he was worth the wait :) God just had to move him to BC and have me get a job in the same company.

  15. I met my wife in my early 30s and married her when I was in my mid 30s and she in her early 30s. We had two children in the first 28 months of our marriage. My wife quit work outside the home to be a full time mum and I carried on my career path. I admit I wanted to be married earlier but God had other ideas and brought her into my life in His time, not mine. I have been retired for 15 years. We are very much in love, much more even than when we got married. We simply enjoy being together. Our children never caused us any real concern, never rebelled. As far as I am concerned my wife is the most wonderful woman in the world. We are truly blessed.
    I feel much younger than my years and joke that I may have to grow old but I don’t have to grow up!

  16. That is indeed strange. My youngest sister has remarked on this phenomenon as well. When she came to the US for college at 19 she hung out with non-traditional students and veterans because her peers were so ridiculously young. I guess you grow up fast in the third world.

    I wasn’t out on my own at 18. I lived with my parents all through college and never had an allowance. I tutored in college, but my money just went into my mothers account. Bank fees where just too high to have an account for such a trivial amount of money. That being said; We always had responsibilities and chores. I knew perfectly well how to run the household. My mom would take summers off when we were in high school. Us girls were responsible for menu planning, cooking, cleaning and laundry. I helped my mom chauffeur my younger sister and run errands. So when I moved to the US for grad school at 23 I was fine.

    This article also frustrates me. I’ve been in college for a decade. I have two degrees, but as a graduate student you aren’t really treated like a professional, skilled person. I’m still unmarried at 27, even though I would have loved to have a baby by now. I feel stuck in limbo.

  17. Thank you for such a great post! The idea that a person is not a true adult until they are in their late-20’s or even early 30’s is definitely one of my biggest gripes with today’s society. Coddling and enabling parents start the process, treating their children as perpetual children and priming them to act like teenagers for an entire decade past their teens – and then popular culture plays it’s role, practically preaching to young adults that it’s perfectly excusable to act like a 16-year-old until age 30. Sadly, older adults oftentimes expect ALL young adults to act this way, and those of us who grew into adulthood by 18/19/20 get treated like overgrown teenagers. It happened to me all throughout college, and beyond. I started living alone from age 18, had become a commercial pilot by 21, married at 22, while many (certainly not all, but many) of my peers were getting drunk/high every weekend, hopping from one job to the next, and not taking any responsibility for their actions or doing anything to grow into adulthood. I just don’t get what they thought was so appealing in all of that! But that is the type of young adult the world sees, and sadly that is what the world has come to expect from all young adults.
    And here’s a thought that will be sure to keep any sane, levelheaded person awake at night… Imagine the types of children these 30-year-old teenagers are raising/going to raise! What will they be like when they turn 18? Frightening, isn’t it?

  18. We were married a month after we turned 20, we got engaged while I was still in high school doing my OAC year. People thought we were crazy, but we were ready. Yes, we had a rocky start, but now we have an incredibly strong marriage. We wanted to have our children by the time we reached the age of thirty, we missed by one year, but managed to have 5 years of marriage workout kids to finish our schooling, and still have 4 kids afterward.
    People are still always amazed to find out how young we are considering the size of our family, our marriage, and the positions we have in our church.
    But because we got married young, it gave us time to fix our issues, to create a foundation and grow into adulthood together before having kids, but still having them young enough to keep up with them.
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  19. KellyK(@RNCCRN9706) says:

    I’m 41.5 years old and I STILL don’t feel like an adult! lol Does that make sense? While I’m a married parent, with a full time job in a career that I’ve had for over 17 years at a place of employment where I’ve worked for 8 years now, some days I don’t feel like an adult. I graduated high school, went on to college and then got a job in my career all while living with my parents. I never lived on campus while attending University. I commuted. I never moved out of my parents home until the day I said “I DO” and that was 15 years ago this year in May when I was 26 years old. Didn’t have my one and only child until I was 31..not from lack of trying but due to fertility issues.

    OTOH, my sister got married young, At age 19 and had her first child by 20. The 2nd came along at age 22. And her 3rd at age26. She married what she thought was a strong Christian man…who read his bible every day. He took it to work with him faithfully and lead a Bible study during lunch breaks at work. She met him during a Youth Group outing at church. They got engaged her senior year of high school and married a year after she graduated high school. My niece was born 9 months later. Well about 18 months after their youngest daughter was born, her good Christian husband decided that he wanted out of their marriage. That he didn’t really love her after all and he wasn’t sure that he ever did. That was over 7 years ago and they’re now divorced. My sister and her 3 girls moved in with my parents & haven’t left. My sister no longer identifies herself as a Christian at least by certainly not living the lifestyle. She’s been dating a man for 6 years now..she spends every other Wednesday night at his place leaving her girls in the care of my parents. Many things in that situation that I don’t agree with. So in her case, I don’t know that it was good that she got married so young because once she got divorced, she went out partying and did all the things she never got to do because she was young and had kids so she went overboard so to speak. Between her and her boyfriend, there are NINE kids. Plus the fact that my parents enable my sister’s situation doesn’t make for a pleasant visit during the Holidays.
    Given this situation, my sister, even though she’s legally an adult, she’s too dependent on my parents. She’s unable to support herself at this time given the fact that she cannot support herself or her three kids without my parents help. She has no mortgage, no utilities to pay. My parents cover that. Nor does she pay property or school taxes..again, it’s all covered for her by my parents. They also buy the groceries. She’s got it made in the shade!

    I think a person is an adult when they’re no longer dependent on their parents for financial support. Sure, college is expensive but I don’t think we, as parents, owe it to our children to pay for their college education. If my son decides to go to college, he’ll have to find a way to pay for it on his own. If he commutes from home, I’ll support him by providing room and board an car insurance as my parents did for me. Here in the USA, the Social Security system will be nonexistent by the time my generation will be able to access it even though I’ve been paying into it since I was 16 years old. I need to put extra income into my retirement accounts, not into a college account. I’m hoping he can get merit based scholarships..he’s hoping for athletic scholarships…lol. I’ve told him if he doesn’t want to have to support me when I’m old, as he’s my only child, I’m going to have to save for my retirement and not for his college. I work in a field where there are no pensions provided by my employer so I must save for my own retirement.

    Maybe being married these days is an Alternative Lifestyle. When I read that headline…I was thinking something COMPLETELY different.

  20. I think the choice of words such as “alternative lifestyle” and adult were unfortunate. If they were simply talking about what the norm is for an elite athlete, it probably is an alternative lifestyle. In order to reach that level of achievement takes a fair degree of selfishness which might make it tougher to pursue marriage or parenthood.

    The economics of being an adult though, pursuing marriage and parenthood have changed so much though. Fifty or sixty years ago in my hometown a man right out of high school had a good chance of getting a factory job that paid well……those sorts of jobs just aren’t plentiful any more. They also don’t pay well enough to support an entire family, like they once did.

    I have no problem with parents giving kids a solid foundation to launch into adulthood with.

  21. Love you bringing this topic to light. I agree with you 100%. Disappointing to see some commentors confused on the point of the article is to challenge the notion of age of adulthood, NOT marriage/children when you have plainly laid out it is about being able to stand on your own. You used the discussion of David Wise as an example of how surprised society is with him living his own life as an adult at an adult age. I found it irritating during the olympics to see the athletes accomplishments shared with their mothers by way of contantly interviewing mothers for how they raised an olympian and advertisers with slogans such as “thank you mom”. This is so presumpious to assume all these atheletes mothers supported them and provided for them. What ever happened to the individual deserving full credit for their hard work and talent? Just another way society is sending the messsage that parents are still parenting adults.

  22. Oh my gosh I couldn’t agree more! My husband and I are both 24 years old, been married for 3 years and have 2 children- and people are INCREDULOUS at this fact. And yet, I know a lot of 20-something year olds who don’t seem responsible enough to handle some of the things my husband and I do. And I think you nailed it- children are not being raised to be adults- they are treated like children until 18 and THEN they start getting some responsibility. My husband works with the young men (12-18 year olds) in our church, and is constantly ‘offending’ parents because he actually requires the boys to take responsibility for their actions (like being quiet in church or helping with fundraisers for their scout troop- things that I think are perfectly reasonable). I think it’s so sad because these boys are being coddled and are not going to be ready to be on their own any time soon. I am very grateful for my parents and my inlaws who raised their children in a way that they could be on their own and learn to accept responsibility at an early age!

  23. I love that in the Hebrew culture, the age of 12 is considered adulthood. Boys are considered men, and girls are considered women, and they are responsible for and accountable for their own choices. The term “teenager” is a relatively new word, and I think it is the Western cultures’ way to excuse young adults for their irresponsible, disrespectful, rebellious behavior–behavior that is encouraged by parents who refuse to see that their young adults are really that: young ADULTS. Most people think that the only reason younger adults (18-25 years old) get married nowadays is because they’re pregnant. My husband and I are proof that amazing marriages can start at the tender age of 19. I’m all over this post! Thanks for sharing!
    Lindsey recently posted…Teach Your Kids to WorkMy Profile

    • Butterflywings says:

      Yes I truly hate that assumption. I saw a doctor two months back who just automatically assumed when I was talking about my first husband that the only reason I married him was from being pregnant. I wanted to yell DO THE MATHS! I said I was married at 19 and had my daughter at 21. Unless I was pregnant for at least two years, it’s obvious I didn’t get married due to being pregnant with her. I think I was mostly offended by the assumption that I had sex before marriage when I waited until married despite how hard that was. The concept of marrying at 19 for love these days seems totally beyond most people’s comprehension. They think if you’re married before 25, it must be due to pregnancy or something similar. But yes, it still feels like a slur on my character to deal with that kind of assumption.

      And while my marriage wasn’t amazing, that’s because my first husband had a major breakdown several months after we got married and it only went downhill from there. I was ready for marriage, but sadly he was not. But in many ways, I think it was easier being married at 19 than it was to remarry at 32. My second husband is a wonderful Godly man, but there are so many issues with getting married older. Being set in our ways and having trouble adjusting to being a partnership, not two single people. Getting married young and growing together is so much easier.

  24. Today, I turned 22. I have been married to a wonderful godly man for the last two years and I have a 5 month old son. My husband is 25 and is a youth pastor. I knew when we got engaged and started planning our wedding that we were doing exactly what God wanted us to do. Our parents were also supportive of our commitment to one another at such a young age. But I can’t tell you the amount of criticism we got for wanting to get married! Friends asked me if I was nervous because we weren’t going to be living together at first and others told me that I should probably date around and have more fun before I settled down! It is so sad to me. It got even worse when I got pregnant with our son. Some people assumed that it was an accident and would ask If we could afford it. By no means are we wealthy, but we have tried to be as responsible as possible. God has taken great care of our little family and we are so blessed. I don’t regret for a minute my choice to “settle down” to be a wife and mother! That’s Gods plan for me & I’m loving it! Oh & we just signed papers this week to own our house! God is good… Even to the youngins! ;)

  25. Stephanie says:

    This is so true! I was of the same mind, Sheila, that my life really began when I got married. I married at 19 and it was a decision I do not regret. In fact, the best part is being able to spend your young life with the one you’re supposed to spend your whole life with! Who wouldn’t want to get started A.S.A.P.?!
    We’ve been married for seven wonderful years. We do not have children yet because I don’t think we were ready for that. But we’ve traveled around the world several times already. We were really able to grow up together and become adults, and now we will be settling down in the next few years to begin the next chapter with children!
    Our families weren’t excited for us to get married early and wanted to talk us out of it. But our minds were set, both strong, Christian values, and we were dedicated to each other. So it had worked out quite well.

    Maybe it is this mindset and our lack of raising children to be mindful of adulthood? I know I wasn’t ready to be a wife, in fact I had to learn how to be one. So our first couple of years were a struggle. I have many thanks to give to people like you and Mrs. Courtney Joseph, and most especially Elizabeth George! Dr. Laura Schlessinger taught me a tough lesson or two! You women truly were the elder women who taught me to be a wife and I thank you!

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