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Coming of age is the change of a young person from childhood to adulthood. There is a variation of age at which the change occurs in the society. Childhood is a period of growth from birth to teenage. Childhood is divided into three stages of development namely; toddlerhood, early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence. Toddlerhood is a preliminary stage of growth. This is when a child is learning to walk and happens at the age of one. In early childhood, the child begins to play, speak and start learning to walk alone unaided. The dependence on assistance for basic needs also goes down. According to some associations, it is believed that this stage of development goes up to age eight. When the child reaches middle childhood, it is the time to go to school. Adolescence, also known as teenage or puberty begins at the age of thirteen years and is believed to end at nineteen. However, in some individuals, it may extend to age twenty two.
At this stage of development, both sexes begin to experience profound changes in their bodies. Both sexes begin to experience growth of pubic hair in their private parts and the emergence of pimples in their faces. In girls, they begin to experience menstrual flow, which occurs, after every twenty eight days. Their breasts also begin to enlarge. The boys begin to experience wet dreams at night, and their voices deepen. They also grow beards. The end of this stage of adolescence and commencing adulthood varies by function and country. Some countries have different age limits at which an individual is considered mature to be entrusted with certain tasks. According to contemporary concepts of childhood, some people believe that children should not worry or work. Life should be stress free to them.
Qualities of a mature person
A mature person is responsible. In each action, he is undertaking he should be accountable to it. He should have the humility to accept other people's opinions and mistakes. Whenever he is wrong, he should be quick to admit the mistake and avoid blaming other people. Maturity also comprises of a person ready to learn and take in new ideas. A spirit that is teachable and willingness to listen should be abundant for one to learn. He should also have a liberal mind that accepts to be counseled and have a response to reproof.
Integrity is also a fundamental characteristic of a mature person. He should be committed to telling the truth regardless of how much it hurts. Even if the truth is so humiliating and hard to bear, one should not fear because telling the truth sets one free. Telling a lie will make one live always with a guilty conscience. A mature person should also be available at any time. He should be ready to be interrupted and value the time he spends with people. These characteristics show that a person is mature and can endure the challenges of life. According to "Catcher in the Rye" by Salinger, it is immature for Holden to run away from home after being expelled from school. He did not want to tell his parents the truth that he had been chased as a result of poor grades. When Holden visited Mr. Antolini the English teacher, he advised him that stronger man lives humbly for what he believes in. The teacher brings in the quality of a mature person when he told Holden to be humble for what he believed in which rebuked him from being a catcher in the rye (Salinger, 2007).
We also find a positive aspect of Holden's behavior. When he told his sister of his plans to go out west, the sister decided to go with him. He refused, and the sister got annoyed. Here, maturity is depicted in that he did not want his sister to face harsh life. At last, Holden decides to go home and narrate to his parents what had happened. This shows maturity. He now chooses to tell the truth to his parents. According to this book, Holden is in the stage of adolescence. His actions portray dilemma. In "The last picture show", Duane and Sonny are friends living in Texas. Duane has a girlfriend called Jacey who ails from a rich family. Other people are moving to Texas to find better jobs leaving Texas, but the two boys are got between moving, like the other folks, or staying on to inherit the movie house. They later learned that love was complex (Larry, 1999).
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Parents have a decisive role in the life of a child. Their work is to support and promote social, emotional, physical and intellectual development of a child from childhood to adulthood. In human beings, this is done by mother and father of the child. The society and government play a role as well. Government builds schools and employs teachers to teach the children. If the children are orphaned, the government legalizes the process of adoption to those who wish to take care of the orphaned. The parent protects the child from physical harm and imparts them with cultural values and skills. The parent ensures that the child gets food, shelter and clothing. When a child becomes sick, it is the responsibility of the parent to take him to the hospital.
It is also the duty of the parent to create necessary conditions for physical development of the child. When the child is young; the parent gives the necessary exercise and develop health habits.
The parent also teaches the child how to behave and the moral implications of ethical behavior in the society. Some children have some negative aspects. This remains the duty of the parent to ensure that the child develops positive attitude in life. Whenever a child commits a mistake, he should be punished. This instills discipline on them. Parents also ensure that they pay school fees for their children. Education ensures that ignorance is eliminated from the child's mind. This is achieved through a collective effort of both the parent and the government. The government builds schools where the children learn. They make certain that there are adequate classrooms for the children to learn. After achieving the necessary education, one can get a job.
Nada" by Carmen Laforet, looks at war impact on family. Family secrets have been illustrated through their violent outbursts. This explains the adulthood of human life. Juan is married to Gloria and, Angustina, Andrea's aunt is being controlled by Roman. In this stage of growth, we find out conflicts that occur. Juan's wife Gloria does a part time job as a gambler. This makes Juan fight with a stranger, perhaps the stranger wanted to snatch his wife as a result of the association they had in gambling. Angustina is a youth who engages in a love affair with a married man. This is revealed by the abusive Juan (Carmen, 2008).
According to this novel, Andrea is young and lonely. She lacks parental care and puts on torn clothes. She is bitten by cold since her clothes are in tatters. Nobody concentrates on her. The family has its own wrangles. This portrays the challenges a child goes through before becoming an adult. Family wrangles destabilize children and cannot get their basic needs.
This is also an extremely critical stage of growth. After the stage of adolescence, one becomes a young adult. One can now get married in this stage. The reason for getting married is to provide companionship. It also ensures continuity of life through procreation. After engaging in lawful sex, the married couple will conceive. The birth of a child ensures that life is an on-going process.
Fantasy and reality
In "House of Mist" by Maria Luisa Bombal, Helga is an orphaned child brought up by her aunts and uncles. She grows up to be a pretty young woman but decidedly controversial and unrealistic. Her deceased mother had left a great legacy. Helga grew up, fell in love and got married. She did not respect her marriage and flirted with other men. This ruined her marriage. She did not recognize that she had a husband. At night she could sneak out to see other men. She became involved in scandals that caused the murder of many people. Helga lived in a fantasy. Nothing appeared to be real in her life. She appears to have missed an extremely critical stage in her life (Bombal, 2008).
Parents have a terrific job of teaching their children. Most of them assume that the children know some things yet in the real sense they don't know. Since adults know what is real and what is not, they should be in a position to explain it to their children. When watching movies, parents should explain to the children since they might not understand that some scenes are pure fantasy. If a child is left without explanations, his/her minds will be deceived.
When one has finished middle age, old age sets in. It is characterized by the inability to perform any other task. Death becomes the last stage of growth.