Certificate in ‘Adulting’


By Marianne Delorey

Every generation creates its own lingo. Recently, Millennials have coined the word “Adulting” to mean “being responsible.” Many 20- to 30-year-olds are proudly proclaiming their accomplishments by posting on Twitter and Facebook that they paid rent on time or made dinner without using a microwave. While the tone is often very tongue-in-cheek, it is about time someone stepped up and put in writing the expectations we have of each other at different stages.  The “courses” below are designed to help us all “adult” better given where we are in life. Would you pass each stage?

Adulting 101

This course is designed for beginners and serves as a refresher for those who have flunked out of Intermediate Adulting 201. You have one aim for this class – don’t burden other people with your ineptitude. You can still be inept, just do it on your own time. You make a mess, you clean it up. You get in debt, you pay it off. You make an appointment, you show up. You pass this course when you can do all of the following:

  1. Have a credit score that meets or exceeds your SAT score;
  2. Stay out of jail for as long as you have had your permanent teeth; and
  3. Keep the same job for at least as long as your cell phone.

Intermediate Adulting 201

This course is designed for those people who have mastered Adulting 101. The basic goal here is to find a direction. Any direction should suffice unless you are contemplating becoming an axe murderer. Bonus points are awarded if your chosen direction enables you to make positive contributions to the world. Extra credit is given if your tax rate goes up but your waist size stays the same. You pass this course when you can:

  • Determine your desired family – who will be in it and how they will be supported. If children are in the plan, the seminar, “Remedial Family – Leaving Dysfunction in the Past” is offered as a prerequisite; and
  • Decide either
    1. that you like the job you’ve been complaining about for years; OR
    2. to leave that job and find a job you don’t complain about. Note – if not complaining is a sign you are too tired, you pass the class automatically.

Advanced Adulting 301

Advanced Adulting is actually the easiest of the courses because all that is required are filling out forms. Legal assistance is encouraged and available. Grades are pass/fail. People can take Advanced Adulting out of order and are encouraged to do so. The course is considered advanced solely because it is required to graduate. Your goal is to contemplate your own demise. Now that you have everything together, it is going to start falling apart. Now, like Adulting 101, your job is to clean up after yourself, but in advance.

  1. Designate a health care proxy. Have a meaningful discussion with that person about what you want for end of life care.
  2. Write a will. Bonus points are given if you have discussed with your heirs what you are giving them and why so they understand your intent.
  3. Designate a power of attorney (POA) for yourself in case you can’t handle your own affairs.


Make sure your POA knows where you do your banking and can pay bills if you cannot.

Upon graduation from this certificate program, you receive permission to ask your kid to reprogram your phone. You can “adult” tomorrow.

Marianne Delorey, Ph.D., is the executive director of Colony Retirement Homes. She can be reached at 508-755-0444 or mde[email protected] and www.colonyretirementhomes.com.