None of this self-planning is new by any means as most young people today are confident and established; they've seen it done by their friends and they rise to the challenge themselves.
They are equally adept as the character Audrey fforbes-Hamilton (played by Penelope Keith) in the British television sit-com of three decades ago "To the Manor Born". She still managed to run the social affairs for the new ('nouveau riche' and therefore 'uncultured') inhabitant of Manor from the on-site 'caretaker's cottage' where she was 'forced' to reside in her widowed state. Sometimes this involved ordering her own flowers and writing her own 'thank-you' note. (en.wikipedia.org)
Being now a retired Baptist minister with all adult chilren, I can remember that when I was growing up, the 'age of majority' was twenty-one. One couldn't vote until then, and various legalities of contracts and financial dealings could not be performed. Other events, such as the age one could marry or drive a car or buy alcohol or cigarettes, were allowed at younger ages â but these things varied from state to state within Australia (they still do).
In 1973, the official 'age of majority' was changed from 21 to 18 years of age in Australia, and from then, of course youngsters of 18 could vote and were regarded as adults for most legal purposes. There was a similar change, at around the same time, in England and the USA. It was too late for me to be able to vote at 18, I was already past 21 by the time the law was changed. (www.aec.gov.au)
I wondered 'why' this age of 21 as the 'age of majority' had persisted in the English-speaking culture for so long and, eventually, I found an opinion piece which gave me the clue to search further for information about the Mediaeval apprenticeship system in England. (www.newenglishreview.org en.wikipedia.org)
In the ancient apprenticeship systems in England, controlled by the Guilds (forerunners of today's Trade Unions), young people â some girls as well as boys, depending on the trade â were apprenticed to a Master in their early teens.
I compared this with the age our children start High School, and also with the Old Testament Jewish rites, when boys have their Barmitzvah at age 13, marking not so much social adulthood, but the time when they are considered competent to enter the Synagogue to start studying the Torah.
The apprenticeships lasted for between 5 and 9 years, depending on the trade, and during this time the teenagers were not allowed by law to earn money for their work. They were dependent on the Master (sometimes a family member) for food, board, education and upkeep. After this time, they became a Journeymen and could earn money, and during the next 7 years they would produce a 'masterpiece', and only after that time would some of them become a Master.
My research indicated that the average age of apprenticeship was 14, and the average time before starting on the 'journeyman' part of the training was 7 years, so usually the boys (or girls) were around 21 when they could first start earning money.
And with money came adult responsibility, and also the ability to enter into financial and legal contracts.
I can see the parallel with our current secondary and tertiary education system; and the words 'apprentice' and 'master' are still in use, in slightly different contexts. Many of our young people are still students at age 21, and still dependent on grants or parents until they gain their degree. However, in our current society and backed up by recent research on brain development, by 21 they should have gained enough life experience and common sense to become responsible for themselves.
I then wondered, what about the symbolism of the traditional 'key to the door' We always said it was the parents symbolically allowing the freedom of the household, but thinking about this history from the Middle Ages, I now see that it probably has a reminding the new adult that he or she is now responsible for unlocking their own life.
The Bible speaks of an age of accountability, a spiritual maturing. In Romans 7, the apostle Paul states that there was a time when he "was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died."
This is the idea that a period of time exists as a small child before one has the mental ability to grasp and truly understand Christian faith in Jesus Christ dying for their sin. Until this age, God does not hold them accountable. A child who has passed the age of accountability is said to know the difference between right and wrong and to be capable of obeying the moral laws of God and making a decision for themselves to follow Christ.
For most Protestant Christian Churches this refers not to twenty-one, but to an age of understanding which may well be well before a child enters even primary school. Today, with television and the internet being a mainstay of information, it is obvious to all that these young children have gained a well-spring of information about life well before children of two or three generations ago.
Nonetheless, the Bible makes it clear that there is an age of accountability for each child. The Proverbs recount over and over again the lessons in life for young people as they mature and grow of age. There can be no mistake therefore, that history reveals that a young person inevitably comes of age and becomes responsible for themselves.
Back in the day when I was 21, I enjoyed two celebrations. As I was going to be on holidays from work as a locomotive engineman on the NSW Government Railways when I turned 21, our Port Kembla Baptist Youth Group had an earlier "do" for me. Then on my holidaying journeys, I visited my parents for my 21st who also put on a "spread" in their lounge room at Harwood Island, (north coast of NSW), to which I invited the girl I was sweet-on, Delma, who has now been my wife for 34 years.
They also gave a Thompson's chain reference King James Bible which they inscribed and I still use daily.
Yes, my 21st was very memorable and of very good cheer! Still, after all these years, as I look at Delma, I often think of that 21st spread and what joy it bought me throughout my adult life! With Father's Day on Sunday, it makes me all the more delighted.