Perspectives about Adulthood


Perspectivesabout Adulthood

Perspectivesabout Adulthood

Adulthoodis, undoubtedly, one of the major and most distinctive stages inanyone’s life irrespective of the gender concerned. It is a stagethat is primarily underlined by the independence of thought and beinganswerable to almost no one but being responsible for one’s ownactions. It is noteworthy, however, that there exists a disparitywith regard to the things or aspects of an individual’s life thatwould signify that he or she has transitioned into adulthood. Moreoften than not, it was acknowledged that an individual was deemed tohave transitioned into adulthood, not simply after attaining acertain age but rather after one gets married. This was particularlyin the traditional American societies where marriage was seen notonly as an event that would unite two people, families andcommunities in a relationship that came with numerous mutualobligations but also an event that would mark the achievement of thestatus of an adult. Of course, there is contention over thisparticular benchmark particularly given that other people would haveother benchmarks for themselves and others in the society regardingthe attainment of adulthood. Nevertheless, it is evident that theperspectives pertaining to adulthood are subjective and can never bemeasured on one criterion.

Thisis the case for George, a recently married young man from Georgetown.Having been an only child to his single mother, George had undividedattention and could have missed quite a lot as a result of theabsenteeism of his dad. Nevertheless, his mother always tried tocover up for the absenteeism of his dad by making sure that Georgehad everything he wanted irrespective of the age he was in. Thismeant that she had to pick up his cloths (including his underwear)wash them and do all that pertains to laundry. It has been statedthat the mother did not know when to stop as far as nurturing her sonwas concerned. Unfortunately, this form of motherhood did notadequately prepare George for the world in which he was venturingparticularly after moving out of his home into college. He haddifficulties living with other students as a result of what otherssaw as irresponsibility and laziness. He could not even fix a simplemeal for himself as he had never been required to do the same in hislife. This was particularly not surprising considering that hismother would call every day just to check whether he had had ahealthy bowel movement. His excellence in academics gave him anopportunity to have a well-paying job well in his youth. As much asthis gave him the impetus and an incentive to develop romanticrelationships with the opposite sex, his affairs would not reallyhold for a long time, with women citing his inability to makedecisions and lack of masculinity that would define an adult male.Further, he had issues taking up some responsibilities even in hisown home and could not be said to be independent-minded rather hecould always have his decisions and opinions swayed particularly byhis mother. It is, therefore, not surprising that one of the womenthat he recently dated would think of him as an “overgrown toad, orbig-bodied child”, a statement from which he is yet to recover.

Scholarshave underlined the fact that adulthood was not merely marked byone’s transition into adulthood but rather the cultivation ofcapacities that would allow an individual to perform varied familyresponsibilities. The responsibilities are gender specific, withfemales and males being assigned distinctive but complementary roles.In preparation for moving into adulthood, adolescent males would beexpected to develop capacities such as protection and provision,where they were supposed to provide economically for their families,as well as offer physical protection to their families (Setterstenet al, 2005).Adolescent females, on the other hand, were required to take upcapacities that would enable them to nurture their families, runhouseholds and take care of their children. As much as there may be achange in the criteria for males and female adulthood, thesecapacities have remained fundamental even in the contemporary humansociety (Arnett, 2000). Indeed, the demonstration of these capacitiesis still deemed necessary prior to consideration of one’s readinessfor marriage as a subsequent transition into adulthood.

Onthe same note, there have been consistent psychological studies thathave underlined the fact that a large number of young people measureadulthood on the basis of the qualities of character that commonlylays emphasis on individualism (Cavanaugh&ampBlanchard-Fields, 2009).Indeed a large number of studies have demonstrated that the mostprominent criterion for adulthood would be the acceptance ofresponsibility for one’s actions, the capacity to make autonomousdecisions and financial independence (Setterstenet al, 2005).It is these aspects that would allow an individual to establish arelationship with his or her parents as an equal adult who can takecare of himself. It is, therefore, not surprising that the ladies inGeorge’s life would not think of him as an adult as he wasincapable of making own decisions or even take responsibility for hisactions and decisions (Erber,2011).

Further,adulthood would be conceived with regard to the capacity of anindividual to comply with the social norms. A large number ofindividuals see adulthood as the capacity of an individual to complywith the social norms through refraining from tendencies that speaklowly about the decision-making capabilities of an individualincluding experimentation with illegal drugs, shoplifting and drunkdriving (Erber,2011).It is, however, noteworthy that the self-perceived transition intoadulthood is quite long and gradual for a large number of individualsgoing beyond the adolescence through the long period pertaining toemerging adulthood. The same social norms that determine the adultnature of an individual would lay down and impart ideas pertaining tothe same in an individual (Erber,2011).It would be difficult to blame George for his behavior in spite o thefact that he is almost in his thirties. This is because the immediatesociety that he was born into that was composed of his mother, didnot teach him about self-dependence and capacity to make independentdecisions. In essence, it would appear that he was not properlyindoctrinated into adulthood and taught the gender-specific roles andcapabilities that he was required to have so as to be considered aman in the contemporary human society (Cavanaugh&ampBlanchard-Fields, 2009).Of course, it can be well understood that the perspective ofadulthood are shaped by societal norms and revolve around thecapacity of an individual to perform the tasks and responsibilitiesassigned to him or her in line with his or her gender.


Arnett,J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from thelate teens through the twenties. AmericanPsychologist,469–480

Settersten,R. A., Furstenberg, F. F., &amp Rumbaut, R. G. (2005).&nbspOnthe frontier of adulthood: Theory, research, and public policy.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Erber,J. T. (2011).&nbspAgingand Older Adulthood.Hoboken: John Wiley &amp Sons.

Cavanaugh,J. C., &amp Blanchard-Fields, F. (2009).&nbspAdultdevelopment and aging.Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.