Age Vs. Maturity- Reading blog post
My question(s?) were: Why does age matter? (Should age be determined by maturity rather than the years someone has been alive?)
I struggled with these questions. I really did. But I refused to give up, and after hours of searching the school database in a desperate attempt to find an article that wasn’t related to the “spawning time of a female sablefish” or the “sexual maturity of Russian boys”, I finally found a few articles that gave me a shred of insight into my investigation of Age Vs. Maturity. I’ll admit that most of this blog post is self-investigated rather than sourced from a reading, but hey, I tried.
Age (meaning the years we have been alive) is obviously incredibly important. It’s our only way to keep track of human development; what a body at a certain stage of life can physically handle and what it is in danger of. Without knowing the estimated time a human can exist before limbs become weaker and women lose fertility, we could have some catastrophic results. Imagine trying to water ski at age 80- neither a pretty nor safe sight. Death rates would be sky-high if we were not aware of what a body can take after a specific amount of time on this earth.
Assumed bodily “milestones” that come with age:
Age 35- Steep decline of fertility begins
Age 50- Menopause shows up for most women
Age 55- Individuals become more susceptible to stroke
Age 60- Bones rapidly begin to weaken
However, mental age is just as, if not more, important than physical age. Physical age accounts for the capability of your body; mental age accounts for the maturity of your mind.
We are all different, with varying amounts of maturity, diverse life experiences, and contrasting levels of comprehension. A 19 year-old student that has put himself through university while working two jobs will probably be more mature than a wealthy 50 year-old trust-fund baby that has never worked a day in his life regardless of the age gap. Therefore, we shouldn’t label the entire middle-aged community as the objectively “mature, wise, hard-working” age group, nor should we label the young adult community as the “lazy, immature slackers.” I may be biased, as I do fit into the latter category, but it’s the way I see things. Yes, older people been alive longer and may be more aware of the ways of this massive, scary universe, and though however often that may ring true, nothing builds maturity quite like the situation life has dealt you.
In the article “The Role Maturity of Parents of Emerging Adult Children: Validity of a Parental Maturity Measure“ a new parenting style is explored. Parents in different regions of the world experiment with supplying their child with an increased amount of responsibility and autonomy from the time the child is born to early adulthood (which they called “Parental Distancing”).
“According to this perspective, parental distancing involves parents’ ability to decrease the degree of control over their child’s behavior, and accept and encourage a more autonomous relationship. This capacity to ‘‘step back’’ from a child’s life allows a more realistic appraisal of him/her.”
Parents stepped back and allowed the young person to be independent and self-sufficient, and the result was:
“the child acquires the capability to acknowledge his/her parents in a more realistic way and to see them as people (beyond their parental role) with strengths and weaknesses.”
“This form of maturity was conceived as a role transformation that emerged when the child reached adulthood, and when the parent established a more mutual and ‘‘person to person’’ relationship with the child.”
This reading really reiterated to me the fact that when treated like a mature adult, a young person will ACT like a mature adult. The young person will see their “elders” as peers rather than superiors, and everyone can relate and connect with each other better. What I took from the reading was that when people really believe that you are capable and act accordingly towards you, and when more responsibility is placed upon you, maturity is born.
Life Experiences (E) + amount of Responsibility you have been given throughout life (R) = MATURITY
YA= Young adult
YA (E+R)x50 > A (E+R)x5
What I’m trying to say with this silly little equation is that a young adult who has had many valuable experiences in their life and who and has had heaps of responsibility thrown upon them can easily be more mature than the full-grown Adult(TM) who has learned little in their time on this earth so far.
***Keep in mind, children do not apply as their brains are constantly developing in huge ways. A 3 year-old simply is not going to be more mature than a statistically average adult. Period.
A person given a responsibility that requires an abundance of psychological maturity MUST possess that particular extent of capability in order to complete the task to its full potential. Think of this scenario the way you did with the 80 year-old water-skier synopsis: A person that has only ever eaten out in fancy restaurants trying to cook themselves a homemade dinner. That person simply could not do the job well as they don’t encompass the life experiences needed to know that chicken will go bad if not kept in the fridge or how to separate eggs.
So, I’ve come up with a proposition that I think would benefit the outcome of any situation that rides on a positive result.
PROPOSITION: All humans above the age of 18 are tested for, and made aware of, their “mental score”. Responsibilities and psychological tasks are placed upon individuals based on mental capability, the way bodily limits and physical tasks are assumed upon physical capability. Every being wears his “mental score” as publicly as his physical age.
If all humans decided to comply with my little proposition, we could have people who were actually suitable to make big decisions and take on large amounts of responsibility in those roles without the “older equals wiser” myth taking part. Eighteen year olds with high mental scores could be running for president! I think it would give everyone that’s mentally capable an equal chance to make something of themselves without ageism or any other form of discrimination.
New questions that have arisen in my mind during this investigation:
- Can and should people be analyzed in terms of stages?
- Is the self a bundle of experiences or is there more to it than that?