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How Is the Transition to Adulthood Different for This Generation

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How Is the Transition to Adulthood Different for This Generation

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  • July 29, 2013
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How is the transition to adulthood different for this generation?

Young people fall into the period of life from the beginning of puberty to the attainment of adulthood. Caton (2001) argues that this period is usually concomitant with problems as they "struggle" to fit themselves into society. Symonds et.al, 2011 concur with this and state that the journey from adolescence to adulthood in this day is far more daunting. It takes much longer, and the roadway is filled with “far more potholes, one-way streets, and dead ends.” For youths to leave home at an early age during the 1950s, for example, was “normal” because opportunities for work were plentiful and social expectations of the time reinforced the need to do so (Settersten and Ray, 2010). The circumstances of this generation are however different.

Settersten and Ray (2010) purport that becoming an adult has traditionally been known to comprise five core transitions— completing school, leaving home, entering the workforce, getting married, and having children. Recent research on how young adults are handling these core transitions has yielded some important findings. First, the process of becoming an adult is more gradual and varied today than it was half a century ago. Social timetables that were widely observed in that era no longer seem relevant, and young people are taking longer to achieve economic and psychological autonomy than their counterparts did then. Families are often overburdened in extending support to young adults as they make their way through this extended process. Parents now contribute sizable material and emotional support through their children’s late twenties and into their early thirties. Such flows are to be expected in more privileged families, but what are now striking are the significant flows and associated strains in middle-class families at a time when families themselves have become increasingly stressed or fractured. The heavier reliance on families exacerbates the...