What makes someone an adult? At what point do you stop being an adolescent, and start being an adult? Is it when you hit a certain age? 16… 18… 21… maybe? Is it when you reach a cultural milestone? Finish school… uni… start full time work… have kids? Or maybe it’s the experiences you collect as you journey through your youth? Friendships… travel… sickness… love… loss? Or are we less concerned than we think and just leave it to teenagers to stumble into adulthood.
In Australian culture we fumble through the transition into being an adult with about as much dignity as my singing. And for those who’ve never heard me sing… lets just say I get sideways glances on a Sunday morning in the pew.
When do you enter adulthood?
In Australia we are legally recognised as an adult when we turn 18. We can vote, pay taxes, drive, get into pubs and clubs and mix alcohol with all of the above. (I dunno how exciting pay taxes and drinking at the same time is… let me know.) In essence, we’re held accountable for our decisions.
And when it comes to a rite of passage into adulthood… what does our culture have? Nothing. Well, to be fair, we have schoolies week. Not much of an initiation into adulthood, unless of course we expect adulthood to be defined as drinking, taking drugs, partying, having casual sex and pursuing hedonism.
We have a 12 month old daughter, and I’ve been thinking about the rituals that we want to have around her as she grows up. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about what rites of passage do we want her to pass through as she develops into a young woman.
Is there an answer?
While I certainly don’t have any forgone conclusions, I hope that my wife and I would help her transition through pivotal moments of her life such as starting primary school, entering puberty, graduating from high school and turning 18 and being recognised as an adult. We want to celebrate her womanhood and we want her to celebrate her identity.
And how would we do this? Well, it’s far too early to say, and hopefully we’d take the time to tailor experiences to our daughter as an individual. I hope to foster opportune moments in my daughter’s life which define her as a woman living in the 21st century. Going on an expedition…. travelling… creating something of worth… attaining sporting or musical achievements… helping others… experiencing poverty… offering hope to others… All based around the values, attitudes and virtues that we’d expect someone in that next maturity bracket to have.
More than all of that, I would hope that as my daughter transitions into adulthood she’d have an understanding of what it means to be a daughter of God. To know that she can experience pure love and ultimate worth at the foot of the cross. And that her life is best lived in light of Jesus’ life which was given to purchase her.