Mate selection can be the most challenging period of life for a young adult. It is a complex process, because there are several issues to be considered when choosing a partner. According to Buss (1985,cited in Seal, 1997:75), people usually choose a mate who is very similar to themselves. However, the fact that 40% of all first marriage result in a divorce (Seal 1997:76) shows clearly that the challenge of mate selection can influence one's like in a very major way.
As Seal asserts that when choosing a mate, we will most likely prefer someone who is parallel to us in almost every aspect. The most significant elements are usually age, education, race and religion, followed by attitudes and personalities. Every individual has different expectations of their partners. Some may favour physical attractions such as a well-built body whilst some might prefer inner qualities. Just as men and women agree on what matters in choosing a mate, a mutual concern for each other is necessary for making a relationship work ( Seal 1997:76 ). Once a person has selected a mate, there is the possibility that he or she may want to have children and this leads to yet another challenge for the young adult - parenthood.
Parenthood is a further challenge which most young adults have to face. Indeed, "There is no doubt that having a baby around the house significantly changes established routines, often leading to negative consequences," (Miller and Sollie,1980,cited in Seal 1997:77). With restrictions in personal freedom and privacy, come new responsibilities and these present a very vital challenge. For example, adults adopt new roles, such as those of a parent.
The interaction of individual development in response to parenting is characterized in the life cycle of a family ( Seal 1997:76 ). The nurturing stage is when parents share the care of the infant. They are then encountered with demanding children and confrontation, with the increased of financial burdens, child's need, shifting roles and the birth of another child. When the child is 5 to 12 years of age, it becomes more self-sufficient and parenting becomes easier. However, things seem to vary once again when the child reaches early adulthood. They then tend to demand the rights of adulthood. Apparently, these signify that parents will in the long run encounter different kind of problems depending on the age and attitude of the child. Whether they succeed or fail in these new roles, it is still true that being parents will have significant effects on their life.
Nonetheless, evaluating the functions of mate selection and parenthood, parenthood seemed to be the greater one compared to mate selection. There's a cliché saying that "The gift of parenthood is truly divine". Indeed, as Seal (1997:76) asserts, "becoming a parent is generally taken as a sure sign of adulthood". Parenting for most people, is the greatest and the most fulfilling adventure. This is because parenting, unlike mate selection, involves partner and children. It is considered a developmental work in which parents grow with their children and in which parents and children are bonded to each other. It connotes one role in life and recognizes the significance of others, such as companionship.
Thus, we can see why mate selection and parenthood are the key challenges in early adulthood. Each one of us is special in our own ways, and therefore, not everyone makes the same decisions regarding mate selection and parenthood. Nevertheless, every single move we make, will definitely had a great impact later on in our lives.