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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.
 
 
fatcook: Honorfatcook on February 17th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
I define "grown-up" and "adult" differently. Being an adult means you can have ice cream for dinner if you want to and no one can tell you not to. A grown-up wants ice cream for dinner but won't because it's not "grown-up" or tells you (or themselves) not to because it's "not right".
Fictional example:
Miles Vorkosigan is an adult.
General Harouch is an grown up.
une idee fixeideealisme on February 17th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
I agree with the above.

Basically, a grown-up is someone who is married with children and a mortgage.

I'm an adult.
starcat_jewelstarcat_jewel on February 18th, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
An adult also won't have ice cream for dinner every night, because they know that there's more harm in the habitual than the occasional indulgence.

But yes, the realization that "should" does not have to rule every minute of your life is an important part of being an adult. I still remember what an epiphany it was to realize that I no longer needed to justify my decisions about my personal life to my parents -- that if I was happy, and able to support myself, then it didn't MATTER whether they agreed with me or not. And I'm still a little embarrassed about how long it took for me to reach that realization.