Posted by Lewis on October 30, 2003

In Reply to: Legal drinking in the U.S.A posted by Word Camel on October 29, 2003

: : : : : : : : : The importance of single young people living with their parents as a market for the Irish billion-euro food-service industry has been highlighted in new consumer research compiled by the Irish Food Board.

: : : : : : : : : SLOPs, according to the researchers, are Singles Living Off Parents, and they have been identified as prime drivers in the take-away sector.
: : : : : : : : : - The Irish Times, 29 October 2003

: : : : : : : : In a news article recently, it stated that the new age of adulthood is now 26 -- not 18 (voting age in the U.S.) or 21 (legal drinking age in most states). As the mother of two 20-year-olds, I'm sorry to hear that.

: : : : : : : And, as the father of a 26 year old, I live in hope.

: : : : : : : Another of those terms for groups of children is boomerang kids. This one is for children who leave home as adults only to return a few years later when times get hard. I've heard that in Sweden this group has got their own back on their parents for name calling. They call middle age parents the 'flashing twelve hundreds', claiming that when they return home that's what all the digital clocks on cookers, videos etc. look like as the parents don't understand how to reset them.

: : : : : : ".Gone is the notion that adulthood officially started at 18, when one typically graduated from high school - or even 21, the modern-day age limit for drinking alcohol. Now many experts simply consider those markers along the way. And it appears that Americans agree. A University of Chicago survey, released earlier this year, found that most think adulthood begins at age 26. '"It's not like one day you wake up and you're an adult. It's much more gradual,' says developmental psychologist Jeffrey Arnett. A professor at the University of Maryland, he is writing a book on what he calls 'emerging adulthood' - the period between age 18 to 25." From "Rethinking The Age Of Adulthood," CBS News online at

: : : : : But the legal age of adulthood is still 18 in the US. That is, at 18 you can legally enter contracts and things of that nature.

: : : : Is it really though? You can't drink at 18.

: : : has an article about the legal drinking age in the U.S. -- it's 21 in every state. In the 70s some states lowered the legal age to 18. But it turned out to be a bad idea. The federal Uniform Drinking Age Act ensured that all states were bumped up to 21.

: : : Kids can get credit cards at 18. That's turned out to be a bad idea too.

: :
: : The legal drinking age in Australia is 18 and I can't see why that's a problem. I think it works here OK. It was 21 when I was growing up but it changed, I don't know, probably 25 or more years ago. Growing up in the bush, the legal drinking age was reasonably academic, cos the boys would still have plenty of alcohol at barbies and beasts on the spit no matter what age they were.

: I have always thought that whether someone is is able to manage alcohol consumption isn't so much a matter of age as much as maturity. It's also a matter of social expectations. If we expect less of young people - or anyone else for that matter - they seldom fail to disappoint. That's as true with credit cards as with alcohol.

Should it be 'adulthood' or 'adultery'?

Being 'adult' is about accepting responsibility, not numerical achievement.

Anyhow, managing alcohol is a cultural problem - advertising showing people doing stupid things eg Wicked hardly helps encourage mature handling of drink.

18 in England, with some exceptions. The more forbidden it is, the worse the problem with abuse. If being drunk is thought stupid, then it is less glamourous, but if it is a forbidden fruit (the name of a Belgian Ale BTW) then youngsters drink it to excess. If it was no big deal, then it loses its shock value.

Coming back from Belgium, where I had been drinking to a considerable degree without being stupid, I had a bad train journey due to American youths bingeing on alcohol. They were about 16-20 years old and really hit the buffet car bar. They got louder and more stupid as the journey went on, drinking anything the bar would sell them. One of them had not labelled their luggage and the guard announced that unless the owner came forward the train would have to stop so that the case could be removed before the channel tunnel (security reasons). The bag and its location were described clearly more than once. This plea was repeated a number of times and eventually the train was slowed down to make an unscheduled stop to eject the baggage. When the train was pulling in, one of the stupid drunk American teens went to the guard and identified it as being his. He had been sitting a few feet from me and must have heard the pleas to identify his bag. The train then had to pick up speed again but missed the phasing of the signals all the way to Waterloo as a result - a few 00 miles of track. Had those youngsters not lived in a 21 years to drink society, they probably could have handled alcohol and not needed to binge, just because they were soon flying back to the States. That incident ruined the end of my trip and frankly, I would have preferred that they had kicked the kid off with his bag for being such an inconsiderate tw@t. Prohibition and restriction are counter-productive and lead to defiance not safe use.

Surely somebody is 'an adult' in social and attitude terms once they have finished degree-level education or go out to work full-time?

Once an adult, then there should not be artificial restrictions on what people can do. American movies are full of people with arrested development - being "in school" and treated like children at an age when they could be gainfully employed. It is nonsense to treat people between 16 and 21 as children. People mature into responsibility and if they are treated as children, they are hardly going to act maturely.

American soldiers run around the world and are trusted to driving tanks and kill the right (or "wrong")people, yet if they had stayed in civvy street, they would be treated like children and not even trusted with a can of beer.
Bazookas in Baghdad, bubblegum in Baltimore.
It is patent nonsense and probably explains why it is the likes of MacDonalds that are the more visible exports - anything more mature would not be understood by the semi-adult population.

Treating people as non-adults until 26 is unthinkable to me - in previous eras there would be almost zero adult populations had such a retrogressive step been considered.

The whole issue of age-related legality needs to be continually reviewed - we have gone from a situation where girls would marry at 12 with husbands of 15 and both be dead by their late 20s to somebody seriously suggesting that 26 is the age for adult status.