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A Quarter of One's Life is Spent Growing Up- Part 2

In the previous article, I discussed the speed of physical development, specifically focusing on the two big peaks of children's physical development. Here, I would like to discuss the psychological process children go through in developing to become adults.

Children develop into adults, not only through physical growth, but also through the fostering of their philosophical and psychological development every stage of the way. Medically, physical maturity is complete with the second stage of the development peak (note 1) which occurs during adolescence. In other words, it is the point where the reproductive system is fully developed and functioning.

However, this reproductive ability, does not mean that the child is suddenly a grown adult. This is because the human is a member of a social society who needs to receive information and be educated in many ways. Only after the child achieves a level of both physical and psychological maturity can we say that s/he has reached a level of adult maturity. In Japan, we generally say that the child is adult when s/he reaches the age of twenty by law and has completed the coming-of-age ceremony.

In order to function well in society, the human must learn to have a meaningful existence in the social culture. While discovering our strengths and special characteristics, we must learn the rules of life, and eventually find an occupation to help sustain our living.

Learning to communicate and be with other people and fitting into the social milieu are necessary for becoming a member of the adult society. Furthermore, to survive as an adult in the society, we must understand the culture to the point where it is engrained in our skins. We must understand and live in a world where life is about philosophy, creativity, thought, belief, art and science.

We spend a quarter of our life learning to live in society and finding a spouse, becoming man and wife and becoming a family unit. The most essential feeling for life is the emotion of love. Humans have the desire to sensually express this feeling of love in words, language, music, color and form to make it meaningful in this abstract world.

Utilizing this ability of expression, man and woman come together to make new combinations of families. Love letters, telephone calls, etc... These actions are very human and are the best representation of sensually expressing the abstract feelings of love. Such abilities are also necessary for humans to continue living and to keep civilization alive.

These are just a few reasons why the child must spend a quarter of his/her life to become an adult.

When I speak to a child, or when I look at a child, I notice there are strong characteristics for each child. I believe that these strong characteristics of the child is a product of the many combinations and miracles born throughout history. In addition, children grow up to be adults, learning from the past history of society as well as contributing their additions to build a new sense of society. Children are symbols of our future.


(Note 1) After a certain age, the first and the second characteristics will appear. This is the stage called "adolescence". Thereafter gradual growth is observed in the reproductive organs and genitalia become fully developed within a few years. The first sexual characteristics are referred to as the differentiation in reproductive organs, and the second characteristics is usually referred to as the development of different bone structures, pubic hair, subcutaneous fat, breasts, voice changes and differences in mental attitude.

Kobayashi, Noboru (1991). Jinsei no yonbun no ichi wo kakete otonani - 2 (written in Japanese). Tokyo: Child Research Net. Retrieved February 1, 2001, from the World Wide Web:
http://www.crn.or.jp/LIBRARY/KOBY/MIRAI/cbs0077.html
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