Adulthood isn’t about age (I have that). Adulthood isn’t even about maturity (I don’t have that).
Adulthood is about responsibility.
It’s why you can sometimes hear the expression, “He matured at a young age” or, conversely, “When will he ever grow up”.
Yesterday, I did my bit to help my niece and her boyfriend move into their first ever apartment. Living on their own at last!
It was pretty easy for me. A loaded up car and then an afternoon assembling their weird curvy television stand (after disassembling it because their friends had built it backwards). Only about 5 hours of my life invested in (hopefully) many hours and years of theirs together.
Now comes the hard part: being adults. Not in age or attitude, but in responsibility. Bills will need to be paid on time. Spending restraint will need to be exercised regularly. Conversation, consultation and agreement on major purchases needs to begin.
In the current setup, my niece will be handling most of the financial watchdogging, as her boyfriend is still not “adult” enough to own those responsibilities. She has stated, and he has agreed, that he will learn them, even if she’s okay being responsible for bill paying and budgeting for the foreseeable future.
The next step, after settling in, is for them to examine their jobs and decide on careers. They are going to be scraping by on what the two of them earn and both of them are currently, or could be shortly, qualified for better jobs than they are working.
After that, well, it’s the rest of life’s responsibilities – home ownership, loans, investments, insurance and, maybe, a family? No fingerprints from this end of the relations, that’s for sure. It’s hard enough to make a relationship work starting out on your own without the added stress of kids. But, if they want them, here’s hoping they plan accordingly.
In the meantime, I’m pleased and proud as any parent, “Uncle” notwithstanding. As I am for any family member, I look forward to providing any wisdom, ear or shoulder if asked.
But I plan on doing my best to butt out and let them live their own lives and find their own way as much as possible as they both move into adulthood.