When A Boy Becomes A Man: Milestones At Every Age

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When we look back at our childhood, we find it rather difficult to pin-point a time where we feel the transition from child to adult take place. There are stigmas and laws attached to age brackets, such as drinking at 18 or 21 (depending on which country you reside in), being legal for sex and full time employment at 16 and other such regulations. Even though we perceive the aforementioned activities as definitively ‘adult’, these are but a few of the marks that truly ‘make a man’. There are numerous physical, material and emotional signifiers that we are truly on the road to adulthood.


A very unique aspect of the transition, and probably the most physical. More often than not, our body surges ahead with transforming us into an adult, while our minds are left playing a rushed, usually embarrassing game of catch-up. Every person changes at a different rate, and in a different way. You also have to live with these on-going changes every single day, so puberty is incredibly personal. Once we have surpassed the acne outbreaks, the awkward squeaking when we try to speak and those more concealed (or noticeable in some circumstances!) body alterations, we are left with the adult body we’ll have for the rest of our days.


A fun little perk of going through the toils of Puberty. While a physical act, sex is a complex and hormone-inducing part of being an adult. It can be enjoyable, but can also bring about a whole host of problems. It can make you fall madly in love, it can complicate relationships and friendships, it can be a danger to your health, and it can create new life. Sex requires a high amount of responsibility; being able to practice it sensibly and safely is crucial to your wellbeing.


Brought on by puberty, this is a very conscious part of becoming a man. It is also traditional for a father to teach his son how to shave: a ritual of manhood if there ever was one! Shaving forces us to become more aware of how we look, as well as how we feel. If you forget to shave in the morning (perhaps because you overslept and had to rush into the office), you’re left feeling ‘scruffy’ for the rest of the day. Unless you have a beard, of course.


After years of being carted around by adults (and relying on Mom and Dad to chauffer you to parties and the movies), when you yourself become one, it’s your turn to sit in the driver’s seat. Being able to drive, like many other aspects of being an adult is a double-edged affair. On the one hand, you gain an immense degree of freedom and independence. On the other hand, you can cause life-threatening damage to yourself, your passengers and others on the road. That, and finding your way after getting lost requires a good deal of savvy and level-headedness.


Now we’re hitting a recurring theme: Drinking can be incredible fun, but also has potential to become harmful. For most people, there is nothing more relaxing than a pint of beer, or a glass of wine after a grueling day at work. For others, going a bit further and dancing the night away on a steady pour of booze is equally as enjoyable. However, alcohol is in fact poisonous to our bodies (hence why we gracefully part with it when we abuse and exceed certain limits), and can cause serious health issues, both physical and mental. Everything in moderation!


Nothing says adulthood and responsibility quite like moving into your own apartment. With this step, long gone are the days of curfew, keeping your room immaculate and being told you can’t have your friends come to visit (unless you have a roommate or significant other who says otherwise!) There are also many responsibilities, ranging from keeping your place inhabitable to paying the bills and being civil to the neighbors. Generally, having your own place also means…


… That you are probably employed! With homework as a fitting preparation, you’ve now got plenty of deadlines to meet, bosses to keep sweet, and clients/customers to please. Knowing your place, and how to most effectively spend your hours on the clock (while also not going so crazy that you’re practically throwing yourself at that glass of wine when you get home) is key to making your work life manageable. If you are required to wear a suit, this will indeed make you feel manly!


The precious dimes and quarters that you squandered and collected as a child will now probably be scattered across your coffee table. But as with most other things, money (or a lack of) can be dangerous. If your car breaks down, will you have enough in the bank to cover the costs? Managing money can be a very difficult skill: one that even some adults struggle with. Choosing what you do with it is another glorious freedom of entering the realms of being a man, but perhaps your parents won’t be there to bail you out any longer.

I’ve covered a fair few points there, but have I really answered the question? At the end of the day, a man is what he makes of himself. We can all live up to the expectations that are set by society; the earner, the house owner, the entrepreneur, the father, but there is a word that I haven’t made use of yet. Maturity. You could be a great saver, but be unable to keep a house clean. You could be able to say no to another glass of wine, but you might still be a virgin. What I have covered are all ‘bases’ of what we perceive to contribute to manhood.

Though it is true that we all know somebody who just refuses to grow up, right?

Matthew Tomlin | News Cult