Emerging adulthood is used to describe the ages between 18 and 29. Anyone who has a child who is in this age range, knows how tough it is. Twenty somethings are finding themselves. They are finding their way in the world. They are trying to become more comfortable in their own skin and in their relationships. This stage can be a mixture of uncertainty, freedom, instability and exploration.
It includes many transitional events:
Pursuing a career
Paying your own bills
Pursuing dreams for the future
A new stage between adolescence and adulthood
It used to be that we only had two life stages: childhood and adulthood. We later added teens and tweens. We now have emerging adults. Jeffrey Arnett coined the term. Arnett has argued that certain cultural changes have stretched out the transition to adulthood. The age of marriage has risen. College has extended. Working during college is the norm. The emerging adults are part of the generation that we often call millennials. Dr Jack Stolzfus writes “Better to figure out who you are and where you are going in life before settling in with a partner. We also know from recent brain research that the executive function responsible for reasoning continues to develop in the mid-twenties.” Stolzfus advocates for giving our emerging adults time to mature and find themselves.
Researcher Arnette has discovered 5 characteristics that are common for emerging adults:
- Identity exploration
- Self Focus
- Feeling “in between”
- Possibilities /Optimism
Jeffrey Arnett stated, “Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of emerging adulthood is that it is the age of identity explorations. An age when people explore various possibilities in love and work as they move toward making enduring choices. Through trying out these different possibilities, they develop a more definite identity, including an understanding of who they are and what their capabilities and limitations are.”
What emerging adults need
If you are a parent to an emerging adult, you know that you are probably more comfortable with some of their choices than others. They probably don’t want to talk to you about everything. They now make most of their life decisions. You are no longer in charge, but they might consult with you at times.
Here are some things you can do to support them:
- Listen with compassion
- Tell them you love them and are proud of them
- Give your opinion when they ask
- Know that you cannot count on them to follow your advice
- If you have concerns, express them lovingly
- Try not to repeat yourself over and over
- Point them in the right direction
- If they ask for help, help them find a therapist. This is a good time for them to have a neutral space.
- Invite them over to visit with family
- Check in on them and send texts just to say hi, I love you.
Modern Therapy and Wellness is a group practice in New Orleans, Louisiana. We provide individual therapy and couple’s therapy. We believe that all humans can use some therapy. We believe that therapy should be warm, direct and relatable. If this article resonated with you, we do have therapists that specialize in working with young emerging adults. Give us a call for a free phone consultation 504-452-1483.