Emerging Adults – We Were All There Once

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Happy hiker girl hiking carefree in nature. Young asian adult showing freedom pose after reaching summit mountain.

What is an emerging adult?

According to an article written by Jeffrey Arnett, an emerging adult is a person between adolescence and full-fledged adulthood. Some believe a recent college grad who has yet to find a job (or even look for a job) is an emerging adult. The term has begun to inherit a negative connotation, but the truth is that emerging adulthood is a normal stage of life.

Several articles characterize emerging adults as more than mid-twenty somethings half-heartedly career searching. Emerging adults can also be described as young adults figuring out life. When emerging adults reach their twenties, much comes tumbling towards them – relationships, self -doubt, pressure, curiosity. Questions such as “Should I move back to my hometown or move across the country for a job I might not even like?” present themselves frequently. Because college degrees are more plentiful for their generation than for their parents, emerging adults have more decisions to make: jobs are more difficult to obtain, relationships are troublesome to navigate, and life is generally complex. Emerging adults have a greater base of knowledge that their parents, but that in itself makes them more indecisive.

All of the aforementioned creates anxiety for parents: anxiety over the money they spent on their child’s college education, anxiety over that child’s career situation, anxiety over their child’s socio-economic position and prospects for the future. The best thing for parents to do is relax and step back. Sharon Jayon of USA Today interviewed emerging adults. Her article can be found here: (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/wellness/story/2012-07-30/Emerging-adults-18-29-still-attached-to-parents/56575404/1). The emerging adults she interviewed were all more anxious than their parents. The article proceeds to illustrate that the main concern of emerging adults is their feeling that they are not taking on enough responsibility and consequently do not feel like adults.

So what can parents do?

Put yourself in your child’s shoes. How did it feel when your parents were trying to make life decisions for you? How about the pressure of marriage, purchasing your first home, and having kids, all before the age of 25? Remember what that feels like and relate to your children. Your children have heaps of pressure, but they mostly just want to make you proud. Give them advice, then step back- just don’t step in the way.

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