Miss Debrett on... Becoming an Adult
If only the key to the door marked a decisive
transition into adulthood… In reality, the 18th
or the 21st is not really a milestone in
development, but a cursory nod in that
For many parents, their supposedly
grown-up children are still in
advanced states of
dependency (possibly even
encouraged to be so by
doting parents), living at home,
subsisting on parental allowances, childishly confident that they are not responsible for a range of mundane concerns (laundry, tidying room, procuring and preparing food, clearing up afterwards). That landmark birthday can feel a very long way from reality, and the prospect of the fledgling flying the nest can still seem impossibly distant.
Growing up is not a decisive series of landmarks, but rather a process of attrition. As you pass your driving test, leave school, gain the right to vote, go to university, take your first holiday abroad without your parents etc. the bonds that tie you to home and family begin to fray. The final cutting of the ties can be expedited by many things (relationships, rows, ambitions), or delayed by laziness or over-protective parents.
Ultimately, children do become adults, just as other stages in development - sleeping through the night, potty training, relinquishing the comfort blanket etc. etc. - seem impossible dreams at the time, but eventually are achieved and forgotten.
So enjoy the 18th or 21st birthday for what it is - a symbolic celebration. Maybe the real growing up will not adhere to the rules of the calendar, but it will come eventually…
Miss Debrett's Top Tips
- Remember that growing up may not adhere to the rules of the calendar.
- Even if the prospect of the fledgling flying the nest seems impossibly distant, be confident they will eventually achieve adulthood.
- Try not to worry and just enjoy landmark birthdays as a symbolic celebration.