Can Inconsequential Things Truly Make You *Not* an Adult?

Hyperbole aside, I’ve noticed a lot recently on these boards people intimating that X (either doing it or not) will preclude you from being a grown-up. I’ve seen it range from the ubiquitous name thing (“No grown ass woman can go by Tansi!”) to stranger stuff like the type of clothes or perfume someone wears, right down to the type of job held.

So, I’m asking my fellow Dopers… is this a true belief or more of a pet peeve? Internet posturing, projection or backlash? If you feel this way generally speaking, can you tell us specifically why? And finally, when you do feel this way, does it impact you in any way? Because some of those responses can seem pretty over-the-top in their condemnation.

Thanks for your opinions.

There’s a saying I saw a few weeks ago, and I was actually thinking of it earlier today:

“I used to worry that I wasn’t acting like an adult until I realized that I was at a point in my life where I get to decide how an adult behaves.”

I think you need to read these opinions as what they are: opinions. It’s not so much “If you do [this thing that I personally think is childish], you are not an adult,” as it is “If you do [this thing that I personally think is childish], I personally will think less of you.” Then you just need to determine whether that person’s opinion means anything at all to you. I mean, do you really care about the opinion of someone who thinks less of you because of the perfume you wear or the music you listen to?

I personally think that part of being an adult is recognizing that people are infinite in their variety, and not judging them based on what are primarily matters of taste. But that’s just my opinion.

Well, define adult?

I take responsibility for my physical and mental health; as wisely as possible balance between standing up for what’s right while keeping forebearance for my fellow humans; I gain satisfaction by my duties not whims fulfilled.

So by definition there’s no way in Hell I’m spraying myself with Axe.

You have never bought your own underwear, you aren’t a real adult. You may be technically adult. But you are functionally a child.

This is the only inconsequential thing I can think of.

I understand the points about people having different circumstances and people coming in an infinite number of varieties but I have never thought is is a good idea to be undiscriminatingly tolerant of all all behaviors either. There really are some people that never seem to grow up. They may have plenty of other virtues but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t improve their adult level skillset either.

My short but completely non-exhaustive list would include things like:

  1. Being able to live on your own if you need to. If you have a disability, that is obviously an exception but any adult should be able to survive in a house/apartment/shelter or whatever they need to for an indefinite period. You may not like it but that is irrelevant to this point. It is the ability that matters. You need to know how to cook, clean, iron, wash clothes, fix basic things and wash dishes at the very least.

  2. Being able to take care of a sick person or an elderly child by yourself for long periods of time - that applies to men as well as women. Everyone needs to know how to change a diaper (for both infants and really old people) as well as prepare appropriate meals that you won’t personally eat. You need to know basic first-aid and what to do in all types of emergencies even if it just involves knowing who to call and what to ask for.

  3. Manage money responsibly - it doesn’t matter how much you have. It only matters that you live within your means in general and have some savings and some type of budgeting system. You also need some capacity for long-term financial planning even if you never expect to have more than two nickles to rub together. You better not lose those nickles and make them count.

  4. Being able to negotiate a major purchase by yourself or just with simple input from others, not expecting a friend or family member to do it for you or, even worse, getting scammed because you don’t know what legitimate deals consist of.

  5. Know how to drive (many types of vehicles preferably) - this one is probably controversial and a little U.S.-centric but it is extremely important here. If you don’t know how to drive, you are holding yourself back and probably burdening other people in ways that the lack of other basic skills do not. It is fine if you live in Manhattan and don’t have a place for a vehicle of your own but you still need to know basic driving skills because it will come up unless you plan to stay in that tiny part of the world for the rest of your life. That brings us to the last point.

  6. Being an adult should mean having some varied experiences that taught you some valuable skills that can only be learned through experience. You don’t have to go enlist in the military but you should have lived away from your birthplace at least for a little while and you should have visited places that are quite different than where you are from. They don’t need to be expensive. You can do that in many ways that almost anyone can afford but the important thing is that you actually have a life story that goes beyond growing up in a certain neighborhood and somehow you are still there 40 years later and the only thing that has changed is the curtains and the size of the TV.

I forgot about that one. A supposedly grown man that liberally sprays himself with Axe body spray is definitely not one and probably a pedophile too. There are some acceptable body sprays for men but Axe is the opposite of that.

The very first response nailed my own personal opinion, but as an anecdote to my own question… I have a ‘little kid’s name,’ so I’ve heard some variation of this my whole life. And I decided around, oh, I don’t know, 14, that that sort of thing would define me. If others believe I’m not an adult at almost 50 because I go by Kemi versus Kimberly, than that’s on them, not me. However, I always wondered about the underlying feelings that are expressed, especially like here on the Dope. And lately, (gah – for the life of me I can’t remember who) it’s seemed like the same poster who has said the same litany of things about how someone isn’t very mature if they wear shorts / use body spray instead of cologne or perfume, etc. Has that person been subjected to the same sort of prejudice and is in turn projecting it onto others? Are they lashing out in the sense of “Well, they’re worse than me or anything I still do that’s so-called childish!”? I’m just interested in the dynamic behind that.

Leaving the rest aside, this is hilariously astute. Monstro, are you my virtual soul mate or something? Because you crack me right the hell up. All the time. :smiley:

There are some people who think being an adult means NEVER acting like a kid again.

I feel sorry for people like that.

You’re not an adult if you don’t realise there are as many different ways of being an adult as there are adults.

Yesterday my sister called me up and told me that her eldest daughter (who is in college) hit her up for money so she could buy a bra. And knowing this chick, she doesn’t have her eyes set on some $12 Hanes Her Way thing. As soon as my sister told her no, she started to get all dramatic and began insisting that she’s a still a child.

Even though she has a job.
Even though she has no problem buying $80 tights.
Even though she comes and goes as she pleases.
Even though she’s 20-years-old.

It’s hilarious to me, as an outsider looking in. But my sister was feeling torn up about it. I think she’s going to end up caving. But the more she keeps buying this girl’s drawers, the harder it’s going to be to convince her daughter that she’s a grown woman. I don’t know how she gets out of it without being “mean”. My sister’s created a monster.

This is the same sort of bullshit list Heinlein said was essential to being a human being.

No, there is nothing that makes one not an adult if one meets the age and mental capacity criteria general society sets. Some people are just shitty adults, or inexperienced adults, or non-driving adults, but they’re adults all the same. Many developing-world people can’t drive, never leave their home village, rarely deal with money…are they all children in your eyes?

I think what people mean, when they speak in such a fashion, is that certain actions or traits bespeak immaturity, to them. Obviously extremely subjective, and definitely reflective of the individual making the observation. But there would definitely be lots of overlap between peoples, I think.

Think of people whining about incidental things, can’t own their actions, can never accept they were wrong, complain of poverty while making ridiculous spending and debt choices, etc, etc. Immaturity DOES look like behaviour we’ve all seen and remember from being teenagers ourselves! So that’s the first thing that comes to mind and the first comparison many people make.

And let’s not overlook that one of the most effective goads to motivate a fifth grader is to imply he’s behaving like a third grader. I think we all internalized some of that on the schoolyard and old lessons die hard. So it’s not surprising to me that people instinctively reach for that type of response when faced with blatant immaturity in an adult.

Obviously, what monstro pointed out is someone not behaving like an adult (and my God, I agree). But we’re getting rather far afield of what I was going for… it’s constantly intoning that people aren’t adults because of ridiculous things, like the aforementioned clothing / music / whatever choices. I get that them saying that is intended as an insult, but I’d still like to know the psychology behind it. And since my search-fu is so weak, I haven’t been able to find the quotes from the person I kept reading it from. :frowning: Which is very frustrating. That person throws out the “only children do that” stuff quite often.

I figure once you’re over 18, you’re an adult. You may be an adult with bad taste, or a lazy adult, or an immature adult, but you’re an adult.

In short, your OP is about bad or absurd judgments on maturity, while many are running with the notion that any judgments on maturity are bad or absurd, if they are framed in a hyperbolic way (not “you are acting immature if … X” but “you are not an adult if you do … X”).

Dopers tend, as a group, to take hyperbolic statements quite literally … :smiley:

In my opinion, people try to snatch away other people’s “adulthood” card to feel better about their crappy situations. “I might be living in a decrepit roach-infested apartment making minimum wage, but at least I’m GROWN!” “I might be stressed out all the time and live a joyless, boring life. But at least I’m GROWN!”

Maybe I’m feeling all judgmental towards my niece not because she’s giving my sister a hard time, but because secretly I wish I had the relationship they have. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable even talking about bras with my mother.

It’s a jealousy, sour-grapey, holier-than-thou thing.

My wife and I proved we are adults by commandeering a small playground merry-go-round and not letting the children play on it until we were done.

Heh. I did say all hyperbole aside… :wink:

I think you may have the crux of it. Whenever I read those a lot here, I always envision the complainer having had that same ‘insult’ heaped on their head. And they sit there, lashing out at others because they either don’t feel that adult themselves, despite their lives, or they’re trying to prove JUST HOW MUCH MORE ADULT they are than you!!1!11!!! So there. Very sad.

I always assumed it’s when you won’t let the kids watch their shows on TV because you need to see your cartoons.