This article focuses on factors that have contributed to a delayed transition into adulthood amongst young individuals in the current generation, compared to their counterparts who entered adulthood during the 1960s and 1970s. The key authority referenced in the article, Arnett, is a professor of psychology. The underlying theory offered is that the delayed maturation is the result of a new life stage, referred to as emerging adulthood. This life stage consists of a distinct psychological makeup where individuals feel in-between, become self-focused, and are engaged in identity exploration rather than immediately concerning themselves with the future. In short, they are trying to ascertain who they are in an ever-changing world. Moreover, the emerging adulthood life stage is fuelled by the need for higher education levels amongst millennials to survive in the present information-driven economy, thereby sidelining life events such as marriage.
The author reflects on the assertion by some scientists that the distinct psychological needs of emerging adulthood are associated with brain development. That is, the brain continues to mature until the age of 25, with its efficiency shaped by the demands placed upon it. This seemingly suggests that forcing the youths into the responsibilities of early adulthood affects the appropriate sync between societal maturation and brain maturation.
Meanwhile, the article attributes delayed adulthood to cultural expectations. Youths in the contemporary culture tend to delay crucial aspects of their life, including marriage and career. They do that not typically expect to marry or enter a stable career early in life in the prevailing cultural scheme. Parents also have cultural expectations that reinforce delayed maturation. For example, some parents regret jumping into careers and serious relationships, and consequently try to guide their children away from the same mistakes. Thus, they support their children’s delayed transition into adulthood, offering them advice and friendship. However, some parents might inadvertently overextend their support, rending their children unable to solve problems independently in the future. Parents also do not generally expect their children to make an early transition and thus legitimates the delay. Thus, culture has equally played a role in delayed adulthood.
The article also compares Arnett’s concept of emerging adulthood with views from other scholars, along with discussing the provided recommendations on how to assist youths during this stage of stagnation. The author succinctly concludes by emphasizing Arnett’s prescription – if youths are left to grow at their own pace, they develop daily living skills and have a better comprehension of their expectations and needs. This should then contribute to a better foundation that sets them for the subsequent life stages after emerging adulthood.
Henig, Robin Marantz. “What is it about 20-somethings.” The New York Times, 18 August 2010. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html