...when is she a young woman?


I have been told by some that I am a child, and others that I am an adult, and it’s got me to wondering… when is a child no longer a child, or a teenager no longer just a teenager?

What do you think?


PS - all of these options are things I have been told by various influences in my life… I do not mean to imply that I agree with all of them, I am simply curious as to how many people here agree with these interpretations as to when or how a girl changes into a young woman…


A child becomes a teenager at 13.
Becoming an adult is more complicated. Unfortunately, in our society we have no general definitive ceremony to mark adulthood, like the bar mitzvah. Hispanics have the quinceanera for girls at 15, too.
That’s a sad lack, in my opinion. It makes it a struggle to achieve adulthood in one’s parents’ and society’s eyes. Many people don’t feel really adult until they have their first job and get married. (some not even then!)
I’d say you’re an adult when you’re self supporting, not necessarily living on your own but able to help out at home as an adult if you are living at home.
IMHO it’s a mindset of maturity most of all.


My dad and older brother both feel that one is not an adult unless she’s had sex… meaning I may never be considered “grown up” by them, because I feel (right now) an equal pull to a consecrated single life vocation as I do to a married state.

At the same time, when I needed my dad’s encouragment or help or whatever after some guys had attacked my friends and I, he told me at fifteen that I was already an adult and thus expected to deal with the horrible experience alone.

My mother treats me like an adult when she comes to me with her relationship issues and seeks my advice in raising my siblings or breaking up with yet another abusive man… and she treats me like a child in how she responds to the job I am working in currently, in how she worries about me and worries me with her worries about me. she also believes that a girl is not an adult until she has given birth to a child.

my RCIA sponsor treats me both like a kid and an adult as well; she says she is in awe that a kid, or a person as young as I, could have saught out faith and formed such devotion… she also constantly says that I am an adult, that I have my own control in my life.

my spiritual director tells me (I like his advice the best, btw) that I should be trying to be an adult where-ever I can be, as society expects it, but that I am also still a child in some areas and can be expected to be growing for the rest of my life - along with the rest of the world.

so really, I don’t know where I stand… sometimes I “feel” more like a young woman (though perhaps those times are my most childish moments), and most of the times I “feel” like just a scared :crying: kid, trying so hard to be the grown up I am expected to be and expect myself to be - like a ten year old child trying to mother her own mother, as well as her siblings - as I once was, before I left home.

Is it possible that a person can go from being a premature adult to being a post-mature child - or, in other words, experience childhood as a young adult, having been denied fair opportunity to do so as a child?



By the difficulties you have experienced in your life you have probably matured faster than the average teenager. You sound like a young woman to me.

Having sex does not make you an adult. I know someone whom (voluntarily) had sex when he was nine (with a girl 4 years older). Obviously that does not make a person an adult.

The giving birth totally doesn’t make sense because plenty of women never give birth. Mother Theresa was never an adult? What about all the mothers that adopted children or woman who remain single?

Maturity in teens vary widely. A friend of mine had a baby and was married at 17. Had her own house -she cooked, cleaned and finished school to get her highschool diploma. Obviously more mature then some college age “party” girls.

I’m 34 and there are even moments when I don’t feel like a grown up. I wouldn’t worry about what other people think.And yes it is possible to mature faster and feel like an adult as a child and sometimes feel like you missed out on being a child to behave less mature as an adult to try to recapture what was lost.


Well if I was a dad she would stop being my little girl when I died :wink:

But I say at age:

13 - Teenager
16 - Young Woman
18 - Adult/Woman


I think one attains the status of young adult when one looks back at the age at which she thought she was an adult and realizes how childish she really was.


Your dad and brother are both wrong, and you of course know that. Selfish, abusive men get no say in your life-- ignore them.

I am very sorry your father has treated you this way. That is a real shame. I hope that you will find adult mentors in your church-- a married couple perhaps, or since you are considering a vocation find some sisters to correspond with-- who can help guide you with real advice and real concern.

Please just know that your father is not normal-- he may have mental problems or an addiction that clouds his thinking.

It’s a shame that your mother is so messed up that she puts responsibility on your shoulders that does not belong there at 15.

Sometimes circumstances force us to grow up before we would like to or should have to. That is the case here. Fifteen is not an adult. But, you have taken on adult responsibilities and worries.

Well, I’m 40 and my mom still worries about me. So, some things never change. Moms will always worry about their daughters.

Your mother is wrong regarding adulthood. I have never had a child-- so does that mean that at 40 I am not an adult? Siilly.

That is likely due to your poor home situation. You have taken on many adult-like qualities to cope and to survive. But, emotionally, physically, socially you are 15 and still growing and learning.

It is normal during the years 15-18 to feel grown up sometimes, and feel like a child sometimes. It is normal for people to treat you with mixed signals. There is a natural period of growing independence, glimpses of the adult you will be and glimpses of the young teen you still are.

It’s a compliment, not an insut. Try to bear with it.

Yes, your spiritual director is right!

Join the club-- I’m forty and I still feel that way sometimes! :slight_smile:

Seriously, it’s a lifelong process-- you don’t magically wake up on morning as an “adult”. It’s a process that takes years (and I know some guys who are still in the process even in their 30s… ha ha).

Seriously, you sound like a fine young lady on her way to adulthood. Don’t sweat the rest! It only matters what you think regarding adulthood, really. Not what your mom or dad or anyone else thinks.

Your emotions are completely normal.

Is it possible that a person can go from being a premature adult to being a post-mature child - or, in other words, experience childhood as a young adult, having been denied fair opportunity to do so as a child?



My own opinion is that you are an adult when you take on responsibility for yourself and others through having a job and your own place to live.


I know two 40-something practicing attorneys who still are virgins. Does that make them “children?”

Assuming responsibility for one’s own life marks adulthood. I voted for “finishes education and begins chosen career.”


I put other…

I think it depends on the woman, but when she can make her own MATURE decisions without the need of her parents, others etc. to do so, that seems to throw you into adulthood.

But a young woman could also be one who isn’t ready for that but does make mature decisions too. When I think of the phrase “young woman” I think of maturity, strong faith, grace, strength, humility - all qualities of Mary :).


When she begins menstruating.


Some girls begin at 11.

My 17 year old son is shaving but I wouldn’t count him as a man yet.:slight_smile:


My personal opinion is that one begins to be a young woman when one has begun to take an interest in the world at large (beyond school and home), one has begun to take personal responsibility by taking a part time job and using the money from the job not only for fun things, but also to help out at home, even if only by taking care of oneself (buying her own clothes, personal hygiene items, school supplies, etc.) and also by helping out with chores at home without having to be asked to do so - she sees a need and answers the need by doing the chore without waiting for Mom or Dad to notice the need and tell her to look after it.

My definition of an adult is different than my definition of a young woman - I agree with the person above who said that an adult is a person who lives away from the parents, and doesn’t require any kind of support from them.


Biology is biology, when an organism is capable of reproduction it is “mature”.

I don’t think we do our young people any favors by treating them as less than they are. They will rise (or decline) to meet our expectations or lack thereof.


A young woman is not a woman otherwise we would not need to use the specifier. My definition is when she reaches a certain stage of either sexual maturity or emotional maturity. That does not imply having sexual relationships. I see a young woman as a female in a transition phase usually when puberty starts and she becomes aware of her new social status as being capable of reproduction. Usually (still my definition) it takes a few years up to the late teens where she reaches enough emotional maturity to reach a state of independence from the family of origin. Only at that point she can consider herself or be considered a woman. In my opinion a young woman must conform to the family rules because she is unable of being independent, while a woman can decide to live an independent life. However, to a father or a mother she will always be their baby until they die and she will be treated as she never reached significant emotional maturity.


This type of thinking treats people like nothing more than another organism… Growing up, for human beings, should be about more than just the physical stuff.

Maybe if we were talking about my cats, I would concede to you that they are adults now… (but they’ll always be my babies;) )… but about a person, a girl/young woman - it seems like it would have to be more complicated than just “her body’s ready”.

At 19 I often feel that I am less mature now than I was at 10, which is probably somewhat because I have re-located to live with a family that is modeling good values for me and offering me more TLC than my own family was capable of offering.



I interpret the term “young woman” to mean a woman who is young. as in, on the young end of the adult-woman spectrum that ranges from 18 to ninety-whatever (or up).

So there should be nothing wrong with calling someone in their 20’s or even 30’s a “young woman,” imo. Because I think the term “woman” being there automatically signifies adulthood. And the “young” being there does not cancel that out. Like, to use the teen analogy, a “young teen” has the connotation of a person who is already a teen (13+) but who is on the young end (as opposed to “pre-teen” being a child not yet a teen). So a “young woman” is already a woman but a woman who is young.


…to say that a young woman is not a woman is almost like saying that a young kitten is not a kitten, or that an elderly woman is not a woman… the specifier is there for a reason, yes… I agree that a young woman is not necessarily completely an adult… but she is not a child, either.

also, many people live with a different family than the one of origin from their births onwards (adoption), unless you mean something different by those words?..

This would be a shame. Parents are supposed to grow with their children, and the relationship is clearly supposed to change as the child transitions into an adult.

Eventually the Parent’s role is supposed to change from that of the ‘boss’ or ‘guide’ into that of the friend, who offers advice but respects the individual adult’s right to make her own decisions - from the standpoint of emotional maturity.



An interesting thread. And have we all noticed that a “young lady” is usually younger than a “young woman.” As in a mom saying, “Get in here and clean up your room, young lady!” LOL

As for your question, I agree with the poster who said that a young woman is simply a woman at the young end of adult-hood. So someone 18-25 or so. In the poll, I choose when you finish college–assumming you go to college after high school and finish within 5 years or so.


When she is indendent, mature and self-supporting, can make decisions that reflect a strong moral compass, self-discipline, and a lived adult faith.

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