Today I was interviewed by Roberto Perrone at BBC Radio to comment on this article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-47622059
It reports that people don’t become fully “adult” until they’re in their 30s, according to brain scientists. The article points out that these findings contrast with the legal position under UK law which states that you become a mature adult when you reach the age of 18.
Being not only a coach but also a trained lawyer I understand that, for legal reasons, we need to have a clear definition of when someone is deemed an adult in the eyes of the law. But the findings of the study by the University of Cambridge make complete sense to me. There is no specific point at which we suddenly become an adult. The study finds that people don’t become adults until their 30ies, but I would go even further than that:
What does adulthood even mean? Are we ever fully adult? I don’t think we are for two reasons.
Our brain never stops changing
Our brain never stops changing. Even in our forties or later, our neural pathways keep changing There is never a fully-grown and final version of our brain. This is something that we leverage in coaching. We help our clients become more effective by changing the way their neural pathways are switched.
Our “inner child” never leaves
Secondly, there is a part of our childhood that never leaves us. As children, we develop certain survival strategies that determine our personality and become hard wired in our brain. They stay with us throughout life. A great way to test this is to push someone’s buttons. Quite probably, you will see their inner child reacting. In stress situations we tend to default to the defense mechanism we created as children, for example sulking, withdrawing, rebelling or people pleasing. We all do this from time to time.
On the positive side, we also keep the beautiful gifts from our childhood. We experience them when we are curious, silly, when we dream, play or laugh.
Spot the inner child in other people
I love looking through people’s eyes to see their inner child. No matter how adult the façade, the inner child is always there. Sometimes, scared, sometimes playful and sometimes loving.
So is our brain ever fully developed? Are we ever fully adult? I don’t think so and that’s great!
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.