AdultThis article is about the human developmental stage. For the adult insect stage, see Imago. For the band, see ADULT. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve the articleor discuss these issues on the talk page.
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The term adult has three distinct meanings:
- Grown man or woman; mature person.
- Plant or animal that has reached full growth.
- One who is legally of age. Opposed to minor.
Adulthood can be defined in terms of biology, psychological adult development, law, personal character, or social status. These different aspects of adulthood are often inconsistent and contradictory. A person may be biologically an adult, and have adult behavioral characteristics but still be treated as a child if they are under the legal age of majority. Conversely one may legally be an adult but possess none of the maturity and responsibility that define adult character.
Coming of age is the event; passing a series of tests to demonstrate the child is prepared for adulthood; or reaching a specified age, sometimes in conjunction with demonstrating preparation. Most modern societies determine legal adulthood based on reaching a legally-specified age without requiring a demonstration of physical maturity or preparation for adulthood.
Although adult education simply means education for adults, not particularly sex education, "adult" also means "not considered suitable for children," in particular as a euphemism for being related to sexual behaviour.
Some propose that moving into adulthood involves an emotional structuring of denial. This process becomes necessary to cope with one's own behaviour, especially in uncomfortable situations, and also the behaviour of others.
- 1 Biological adulthood
- 2 Legal adulthood
- 3 Personal characteristics
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Adulthood is generally understood as the time when physical maturation is complete. One reaches their maximum height and secondary sex characteristics form such as body hair and facial hair, voice lowers in pitch (especially noticeable in men), and menses begin (women). Natural sleep patterns change in adulthood, as adults typically require less sleep than during adolescence. One aspect people do not specify is what (psychologically) an adult is. A common theory is that adulthood is the real test of life, to experience the world from a first-person standpoint instead of through the parents. Then the adult can pass those experiences down to younger people and they can experience them when they become adults.
- Main article: Age of majority
Legally it means that one can engage in a contract. The same or a different minimum age may be applicable to, for example, parents losing parenting rights and duties regarding the person concerned, parents losing financial responsibility, marriage, voting, having a job, being a soldier, buying/possessing firearms (if legal at all), driving, traveling abroad, involvement with alcoholic beverages (if legal at all), smoking, sex, gambling (both lottery and casino) being a prostitute or a client of a prostitute (if legal at all), being a model or actor in pornography, etc. Admission of a young person to a place may be restricted because of danger for that person, and/or because of the risk that the young person causes damage (for example, at an exhibition of fragile items).
One can distinguish the legality of acts of a young person, and of enabling a young person to carry out that act, by selling, renting out, showing, permitting entrance, participating, etc. There may be distinction between commercially and socially enabling. Sometimes there is the requirement of supervision by a legal guardian, or just by an adult. Sometimes there is no requirement, but just a recommendation.
With regard to pornography one can distinguish:
- being allowed inside an adult establishment
- being allowed to purchase pornography
- being allowed to possess pornography
- another person being allowed to sell, rent out, or show the young person pornography, see disseminating pornography to a minor
- being a model or actor in pornography: rules for the young person, and for other people, regarding production, possession, etc. (see child pornography)
With regard to films with violence, etc.:
- another person being allowed to sell, rent out, or show the young person the film, a cinema being allowed to let the young person (under 18) enter
The legal definition of entering adulthood usually varies between ages 15–21, depending on the region in question. Some cultures in Africa define adult at age 13.
According to Jewish tradition, adulthood is reached at age 13 (the age of the Bar Mitzvah), for Jewish boys, for example, were expected to demonstrate preparation for adulthood by learning the Torah and other Jewish practices. The Christian Bible and Jewish scripture has no age requirement for adulthood or marrying, which includes engaging in sexual activity. According to The Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman, the Christian Church of the Middle Ages considered the age of accountability, when a person could be tried and even executed as an adult, to be age 7 .
- Iran (21)
- Indonesia and Japan (20)
- South Korea & British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Yukon Territory in Canada (19)
There are some qualities that symbolize adultness in most cultures. There is not always a correlation between the qualities and the physical age of the person.
The adult character comprises:
- Self-control - restraint, emotional control.
- Stability - stable personality, strength.
- Independence - ability to self-regulate.
- Seriousness - ability to deal with life in a serious manner.
- Responsibility - accountability, commitment and reliability.
- Method/Tact - ability to think ahead and plan for the future, patience.
- Endurance - ability and willingness to cope with difficulties that present themselves.
- Experience - breadth of mind, understanding.
- Objectivity - perspective and realism.
- Decision making capability - as all of the above correspond to making proper decisions.
- Adult development
- Watershed (television)
- Age of consent
- Motion picture rating system
- Table 8. Age of Independence US and UK legal age guide.
Toddlerhood• PreadolescenceAdolescenceYouth development• PubertyAdulthood Early adulthood• Middle adulthood• Late adulthood• Ageing& SenescenceTheorists-theoriesJohn Bowlby-attachment• Erik Erikson-psychosocial• Sigmund Freud-psychosexual• Lawrence Kohlberg-moral• Jean Piaget-cognitive• Lev Vygotsky-cultural-historical