It's not unusual for children to want to become adults far before their time. According to Rabbi Shmuley, childhood has become something that children are ashamed of as they strive to attain the freedom of adulthood. Rabbi Shmuley talks about when the childhood years really end and when children become adults.
Determining adulthood can be tricky—in the United States, many children can legally drive at 16, vote and enlist in the military at 18 and purchase alcohol at 21. Rabbi Shmuley believes a child typically becomes an adult around the age of 20, after the teen years have subsided. "Yes, we send our kids to college before then, and yes, they do need their freedom," Rabbi Shmuley says. "But they still need strong supervision until they are more mature emotionally and ready for independence."
In order to retain their childhood as long as possible, Rabbi Shmuley says parents needs to help their children retain childhood qualities that are essential to a well-ordered life later, like holding onto their innocence and not being exposed to harsh realities of life too early.
"The perfect man or woman is he or she who is an adult on the outside, displaying responsibility and wisdom, and a child on the inside, retaining a permanent sense of innocence, fun and adventure. If our children outgrow their childhood too fast, their adulthood gets built on a rickety foundation that can lead to an unstable life."