View Full Version : Coming of age?

10-06-2008, 08:12 AM
While certain cultures considered children to be adults at a very young age (and some still do), it doesn't quite compute to modern (american) thinking where 18 and 21 are milestones in going from child to adult.

So, I decided that the people in my novel would celebrate two 'coming of age' moments in order to fit my novel and better mesh with American preconceptions. The first when a child turned 15- this would be the initial step into adulthood. The other, when the young adult turned 20 (and maybe had a few kids already!)

But how do I label this second coming? Are there examples of this in other cultures that I can draw from? I'd like to have two separate milestones for my character.

Also, if it helps- most people in my world are married by 20, but it's not uncommon to delay a few years.


10-06-2008, 10:06 AM
The age of 15 is a traditional coming of age for Mexican girls. It's a really, really big deal celebration which should be easy to research on the web.

In Jewish tradition, boys reach adulthood (where they are responsible for their own actions) at the age of 13 when they become Bar Mitzva. In liberal Jewish traditions (Reconstructionist, Reform and some Conservative) girls have their adulthood at age 12 (girls mature faster) becoming a Bas Mitzva.

American kids celebrate their adulthood at age 21 by going to a bar, getting really drunk and throwing up until morning.

Perhaps the sort of thing you are thinking of is the first, graduating high school and the second, graduating college or trade school.

I don't think that the majority of American young people have a couple of kids by the age of 20, by the way. I don't know about your character's world. Can you elaborate a little? Is it tribal? Is it agricultural or high tec?

If you are talking tribal society, let me know and perhaps I can steer you to some information.

10-06-2008, 10:28 AM
The age of 15 is a traditional coming of age for Mexican girls. It's a really, really big deal celebration which should be easy to research on the web.


10-06-2008, 04:47 PM
My novel is set in a medieval eastern European setting. So, castles and knights and all that ;) (And magic, et al- it's high fantasy)

Thanks for the help :)

Tsu Dho Nimh
10-07-2008, 03:58 AM
Perhaps a "coming out" or "entering the world" when a child is considered adult enough to mingle with potential mates at puberty, and a "home founding" when the married child has produced an heir.

10-07-2008, 10:26 AM
Making wild assumptions about your setting: what Tsu Doh Nimh said, but with the addition of: "Entering the World" would be the age when a child would start an apprenticeship, professional training, or start their own herd, etc, as well as meeting potential mates. I'd change the second one to "Mastery" or some such, indicating the person has mastered his trade, or has gained mastery over his own farm or business. This might be both more inclusive and more variable, allowing for people who don't marry or have children for whatever reason. Unless you can use a situation in which a grey-bearded, respected, but celibate scholar is dismissed as a kid at home. "You'll be a man. When you marry and take up a man's work." Worse for girls, probably.