The law designates adulthood at 18 years of age. If you’re charged with a crime, you may even be designated an adult at a younger age. Yet modern psychology and neuroscience theory place brain development on a new scale, one which doesn’t stop until age25, or even later. We may go out into the world as legal adults once we turn 18, but science increasingly supports the belief we mostly remain halfway between children and grown-ups for many years thereafter.
Parents don’t have legal obligations to their children after they become legal adults. But that doesn’t mean we ought to, or want to, cease providing parental assistance to our adult children. Here are the most common places parents tend to help their children after they’ve become lawful grown-ups:
College costs have skyrocketed over the last several decades and keep increasing with every semester. A part-time job and scholarship doesn’t cut it anymore. Parents are helping their adult children get through college and beyond more and more, whether it’s through financial assistance, letting their kids keep living at home, or both.
Additionally, parents should be there to help their children navigate the sometimes confusing web of academic financing to prevent unnecessary accumulation of debt. Furthermore, parents undoubtedly have experience in the world of credit cards, car loans, and other forms of borrowing. Share this knowledge and insight with your children. This can help keep them from making the mistakes so many people make in their youth when it comes to credit.
Tens of millions of Americans suffer from alcohol and drug addiction. Statistically speaking, it’s going to be somebody’s child, somebody’s parent, or in some cases an inherited disposition across generations. Again, parents have a role to play in providing wisdom and support for their adult-aged children before and after drug and alcohol problems develop. Hotel California by the Sea, a treatment center that provides substance abuse rehab for young adults, recommends to avoid making recovery a disciplinary experience and instead emphasize that recovery will help build life skills to achieve bigger-picture life goals.
No matter how many times parents may preach the importance of savings in case of little emergencies, most 20-somethings fail to grasp this cornerstone of maturity for many years. 20-somethings also tend to drive used cars. The recipe is of course a lot of repair bills they aren’t able to cover without racking up thousands in credit card charges. Parents are often there to pick up the tab when clutches need replacing and air conditioners go out, at least for a few years anyway.
The emotional rollercoaster of high school romance tends to keep going into college for a few years to come. 20-somethings can be easily worked up over relationship drama which in the long-term most parents can see is small potatoes. Yet nobody, young or old, wants to hear they’re being irrational in the midst of heartbreak. Lend emotional support if they want it, but shy away from speaking negatively about the other party if feelings persist. This ought to remain protocol in the event of bad marriages as well.
We’re legally responsible for our actions at the age of 18, and rightfully so. But that doesn’t mean we instantly become seasoned adults overnight. It’s a slow process built on experience, knowledge, and the wisdom of elders. And maybe their financial support too.
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