I guess in your world, all adults live in the suburbs and need a car, have dental and medical insurance and can afford a gym membership, afford to buy and keep a dog, and afford to invest and own property. I guess povery infantalizes.
Wow. Did I say "all adults"? No. I think it was pretty clear that I was just riffing on things I think when I hear the word "adult", not implying that every single adult does all of those things. It's not like I believe people who are allergic to dogs aren't adults... or that I really believe I'm not an adult, if it comes to that.
But yes, I was thinking in a NZ-centric context, and we have free healthcare here (and in my city at least, pretty ghastly public transport), so it's a slightly different picture. But in my mind it's not about affording health care, it's about being the kind of responsible, organised person who thinks every year "Hey, I should get my teeth scaled and polished". As a rather scatty and forgetful person, that kind of with-it-ness seems extremely grown-up to me. You could translate the same mentality to people who flip their mattresses over every... um, however often this is recommended... or whatever you like. When I see adults doing those kinds of things - even stuff I really have no interest in doing, like ordering drinks at a bar or wearing makeup - I tend to have a subconscious feeling that they're doing it because they're grown up, and maybe one day I'll magically become "adult" and do those things too. Of course it's not really true; it's just because they're that sort of person (and in some cases, money comes into it - I have friends my age who've bought houses, and it never ceases to astound me); but the thought is there, nevertheless. I assumed that was a common experience. Maybe not.
ETA: Now I think about it, though, poverty does infantilise to a degree. Isn't that a well-documented phenomenon? Nomadic tribes learn to rely on food aid after years of drought, and stop taking their flocks to greener pastures, instead staying in the same place so as to be on hand when the food parcels arrive. It's absolutely understandable, but self-sufficiency is one of the hallmarks of adulthood (at least according to this thread). Right now DH and I are broke, and our car is extremely old and dying. DH's father is going to lend us money to buy a new car; and I hate it, because it makes me feel like a child. In Western culture, there's a stigma to adult children living with their parents to help pay the rent, because it's seen as something teenagers do. (Apparently that's changing with the economy, but for now, in NZ at least, the stigma's still there. My two best friends currently live with their parents, and are somewhat embarrassed by it.) Before I learned to drive, when we couldn't afford a car, Mum would take our entire family to church on Sundays, and again, it made me feel like a child (it's why I eventually learned to drive).
It's certainly an interesting question, and you could argue about Western perceptions of self-sufficiency vs interdependence and so on and so forth, but even as a bald statement I think it deserves better discourse than just a snarky eyeroll. By its very nature, poverty reduces one's ability to be self-sufficient and independent; dependence and non-self-sufficiency are traits associated with children, in Western culture at least.
Edited by Smokering - 8/10/11 at 6:27pm