I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Age is relative

I think I've posted about this topic before - at least in relation to DH - but I think it's worth discussing again. Today I met someone who is 29. Her boyfriend (who moved all the way across the globe to be with her) is 21. Yes, HE is 8 years younger than she is. When she told me about this, she was all embarassed about it - as though it's something to be ashamed of. It's not like I would point and shout, "Cradle Robber!" at her. Sheesh. People take too much notice of the whole 'age difference' thing. In my experience (and the experience of others, since everyone I know feels the need to get my approval if their love interest age difference is greater than 3 years) - age is so relative to the individuals. I've met many a person my own age who is significantly more or less mature than I am. I wonder how much of it has to do with how we are raised, how much of it is gender-based, how much of it is society/culture based. Take, for example, your average 19 year old in a major metropolitan city (Note: I make no apology for broad, sweeping generalisations here.) . In the US, chances are that the 19 year old spent their high school years driving themselves to parties, holding down a part time job and applying to college. At 18, they probably left home to go to a college far away (as in, a plane ride away), took control of their finances (at least in some part), had a job, etc. The average 19 year old Australian child probably didn't have a part-time high school job, definetly didn't drive themselves anywhere (driving age is 18), and the whole college apps thing is done totally differently here (and far easier to do!). At 18 they probably went to university....a tram ride away from home. They probably still don't drive, probably have their parent's names on their mobile phone bill, and will live at home until they graduate. I'm not saying one way is better than the other - but if you were to introduce those 19 year olds to one another, I think you would find one is more mature (more independant?) than the other. If one of those 19 year olds were male, that brings another dimension to it. If they were an only child, if they come from a well-off family, if they are religious - so many factors combined to determine if a person is mature, average, or immature for their age.

For my Master's degree I wrote a thesis arguing that teenagers should be given the right to choose their treatment couse (including a choice to NOT undertake treatment) for life threatening illnesses. In my opinion at that time, teenagers should be given the right to choose for themselves even if their choice differs with that of their parents. I did also argue, however, that this could only happen where the adolescent showed a maturity and understanding of the situation. My Mom read that paper and assured me that once I had kids, my opinion on this topic would change. Well, now I've got kids and my opinion hasn't really changed all that much. It's just that now I would like to think DH & I would have a nuturing, open relationship with our kids so that our decision about treatment would be a mutually acceptable one. I just can't accept that 'legal age' means you are suddenly mature enough to handle things - driving, drinking, whatever. I have no solution as to how one decides what legal age should be, and I understand the need for a formal number to be attached to these rules. Age is such a strange notion to me - it's not like you wake up on the morning of your 18th birthday suddenly mature enough to handle alcohol. In our house we have a saying (which works in DH's favour) - 'You're only as old as the people you feel" ....and I truly believe it kinda is like that. For me, in any case, how I feel (and how I act) can often be day and company dependant. In the company of my uni friends, I often act and dress less mature than I would in, say, the company of my work colleagues.

So, how relevant is one's age? How significant a part should it play in any part of our lives - especially personal lives? Is the person dating someone much younger than her simply "cradle robbing"?

And for what it's worth, today I feel old. Somewhere around 43.

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