General Question

envidula61's avatar

How do you act like an adult?

Asked by envidula61 (1011points) June 15th, 2011

People seem to use that phrase a lot: “act like an adult.” Clearly, the phrase is used in a variety of situations, and it probably has a different meaning in each situation. Maybe it is just a symbol for something else.

Still, I wonder what people mean when they say that. Do they have a picture of some specific behavior that constitutes grown-up actions, or is it a more amorphous kind of thing? Just a feeling?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

28 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I think it could mean accept responsibility for your actions, and don’t annoy other people.

Lightlyseared's avatar

No idea. Mind you not knowing has never held me back.

redfeather's avatar

I act real boring and mumble about stock portfolios and interest rates.

Coloma's avatar

Mostly it means to have a grip on your childish emotions, be able to take responsibility when you screw up, not argue like a 5 year old and shift the blame to others.
It means to hold yourself accountable for your own stuff, and be big enough to admit your mistakes and correct them if possible.

The world is full of plenty of ‘adults’ that earn a living and meet their survival needs, but are still about 6 years old emotionally. lol

Everyone should remain ‘child like’ , in retaining a sense of fun, play, curiosity and joy, but, not remain ’ child-ish’ in their emotional responses.

Hey, we’re all works in progress, just do your best to be kind and fair and reasonable and check your tantrums at the door. ;-).

squirbel's avatar

Be responsible.
Be responsible for what you say, what you did.
Speak properly.
Don’t lay blame.

When you fail any of these things it is readily apparent by what you say and how you act. These are the most egregious. There are more things that constitute adulthood, but these are the simplest starters.

thorninmud's avatar

Impulse control.

Thinking about consequences and being able to forego immediate gratification. Doing what needs doing, even when you don’t want to.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Since I have two kids under 5, I figure it’s acting differently from them. That means not bursting into tears the second I don’t get my way, paying attention when someone is speaking to me, putting my pants right side on, not pointing at people, being responsible for providing food and financial stability, etc.

mazingerz88's avatar

Don’t hurt other people’s feelings.
Get a job.
Don’t talk while chewing.
Learn to forgive.
Pick up your underwear.
Do a house chore.

seekingwolf's avatar

I agree with @thorninmud about impulse control.

It’s also about using proper words, speaking properly, not being annoying, being respectful, taking responsibility for your actions/words, having work ethic, and adhering to basic social codes of conduct so you can get along well with others. Even if it’s boring/dull.

ucme's avatar

I suppress my inner child when the need arises. Boy can he be a stubborn little bugger though.

johndoe88882222's avatar

one characteristic of an adult is being able to care for oneself and to care for others around them.

vickorano's avatar

DancingMind—yes. Yes forever.

Be yourself. You will discover what it means to be an adult when you’re there.

And then you’ll deny it. ;)

lillycoyote's avatar

I try. The whole business of trying to embrace one’s inner child always amused me because I actually need more to embrace my inner adult.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The American way? You cuss, drink, and boink.

stardust's avatar

What @thorninmud says unfortunately :/

Coloma's avatar

You mean I should resist those 3 ice cold Pacificos that are whispering to me from the fridge right now on this 93 degree afternoon? lol

redfeather's avatar

don’t resist!

Coloma's avatar


Only long enough to go get chinese chicken salad first. Dinner is served, Mexican beer and chinese chicken salad, an ethnic night. lolol

Kardamom's avatar

Thinking before you act, to make sure that what you are doing is compassionate, smart and worthwhile worthwhile. Someone who tries not to disrupt societal peace, and takes into consideration the feelings and needs of others. Not doing things simply because of expediency or desperation or greed. Someone who regards the earth and tries not to cause environmental damage or societal damage. Someone who does not to take things or demand things that don’t belong to him/her or are not owed to him/her. Someone who offers comfort to the meek, powerless and hurting, without having to be forced. Someone who does not purposely exploit others or willingly deceive others simply for their own expedient reasons or selfishness or lack of compassion. Someone who listens with a rational ear and gives advice with a soft and gentle touch. Someone who stands up for others, who needs assistance, but for whatever myriad reasons cannot help themselves. Someone who worships fairness, but realizes that all things cannot be given to or expected of everyone equally, because all people have different needs and abilities. Someone who never stops trying to do the right thing, even though they might be having a crappy day, month or year.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

It’s supposed to mean what @Coloma mentioned. However, it tends to be one of those catch-all terms that really means “stop doing what I want you to stop doing”. I’ve found that more often than not, when people say “act like an adult” it’s part of a larger phrase “act like an adult so that I can continue not acting like an adult without feeling any guilt”.

Coloma's avatar


LOL… touche!

Gawd, gotta be quick with the psych evaluations. haha

wundayatta's avatar

I agree with @MyNewtBoobs. I think that a lot of the time, people say this when they don’t agree with what you are doing and they want to put you down at the same time. It’s a semi-veiled insult that impugns the intelligence of the person it is said to. It is most certainly not kind.

blueiiznh's avatar

to me it implies to act mature as opposed to acting like a child.

Plucky's avatar

What others suggested above…plus, my partner and I sitting at home watching a Golden Girls marathon while playing Scrabble on New Year’s Eve.

lillycoyote's avatar

You pay your bills, you understand and act like you understand that you share the world with other people and are not the center of the universe, to take responsibility for your actions, you understand that other people’s time and effort is as valuable to them as yours is to you and you do things, like pay your bills, and stop doing things that are stupid and reckless not necessarily because that is the right thing to do or because you’re now old and stuffy and boring and responsible but because you have gained enough wisdom to understand that paying your bills and not doing stupid, reckless things turns out to be the best way to avoid the unpleasant consequences of not paying your bills and being stupid and reckless. I’m not saying I’ve exactly, entirely mastered the art of being an adult but I’m pretty sure what being an adult looks like and I am ever hopeful.

Kardamom's avatar

@PluckyDog I looooooove the Golden Girls!

mattbrowne's avatar

Think in terms of “we” instead of “I”.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther