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16 February 2010 @ 09:29 pm
"What is a grown-up?"  
One of my grad students came in this morning and said, "This question came up in class [Adult Ed] last night, and no one could satisfactorily define it. 'What is a grown-up?'"

My first question was, "Grown-up or adult?" and my second was, "If grad students who study this sort of thing can't answer it, why are you asking me?"

Anyway, my answer was, "A grown-up is someone who assesses risks and rewards before taking action, and acts to minimize the risks and maximize the rewards, while doing as little harm to others as possible."

So, for example, it's acceptably grown-up to put your best foot forward when applying for and interviewing for a job, even though it's almost certain that if you are hired, someone else will be harmed by not being hired. It's not acceptable or grown-up to actively sabotage another candidate. By my definition.

However, I don't study these things, and so I'm probably wrong, and so I would be interested in how you would define a grown-up.
Adrian Turtleadrian_turtle on February 17th, 2010 02:58 am (UTC)
VERY generally: grown-ups are responsible for taking care of themselves, and may also be responsible for taking care of others. One traditional marker of becoming a grown-up is to move out of your parents' home. Another is to take on the responsibility of caring for a child. One can take care of oneself well or badly...but to be a grown-up is to accept the responsibility of that work. (Taking on the whole responsibility does not mean you need to do all the work yourself. Humans work together in families and communities. But the difference between children and adults is that children are not fully responsible--they need caretakers and guardians.)