04 August 2004

How Do You Know You Are?

What constitutes adulthood?

When you say you are an adult, do you really think you are?

In the Philippine setting, adulthood is difficult to achieve. If you define adulthood as being independent in all aspects, be it financial or being able to decide crucial matters, then I guess you will find very few adults here. The concept of extended families prevail here, and it is not difficult to find husband and wife with children still living and being supported by their parents.

In the US, 95 percent of Americans view adulthood as: having completed education, having gained employment, being financial independent, and being able to support a family.

In the summer issue of Contexts, a journal of the American Sociological Association, a study finds that young men and women today are much less likely than earlier generations to have achieved by age 30 the traditional benchmarks of adulthood: leaving home, finishing school, getting married, having a child and being financially independent. Using US Census data, researchers Frank J. Furstenberg Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues were able to conclude that:

31 percent of men and 46 percent of women in 2000

65 percent of men and 77 percent of women in 1960

[News-Medical.Net, 3-Aug-2004]
If you notice the figures, the percentages of men and women reaching adulthood benchmarks by 30-years-old in the year 2000 are almost half of those who were considered adults by 30 during the 1960s.

Many reasons are given.

"For both men and women, these changes can largely be explained by the increasing proportion who go to college and graduate school, and also by the postponement of marriage and childbearing," said Furstenberg. He said that in addition to the disappearance of subsidies and the growing cost of college and housing, "the primary reason for a prolonged early adulthood is that it now takes much longer to secure a full-time job that pays enough to support a family." [News-Medical.Net, 3-Aug-2004]

Here, however, the situation has a slight twist. Majority have delayed adulthoods because it is so darn difficult for children to leave their parents, either because their parents insist on doing so, or because the children are so financially dependent for their existence on their parents.

When I was an adolescent, I used to have the naive idea that when people reach a particular age, they can already be proud and call themselves as adults. Now, I understand how pitifully wrong I was. Being an adult nowadays is not just being mature, but more rightfully equated and defined as being financially independent.

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