Deciding to be Adults

How early should adolescents start thinking about taking up adult roles?  While that awkward stage known as adolescence can be uncomfortable, being halfway between childhood and adulthood means making choices about when to become an adult.   All too often, adolescents find themselves rebelling against cultural and biological expectations of how soon they should become sexually active, leave school, get married etc.    Sadly, many societies often force these choices on children before they are really ready to understand the full implications (including girls being forced into marriage as young as twelve years old in some countries).    Even in industrialized countries, there can be significant gender differences with boys and girls facing pressure over making adult role transitions, especially concerning career choices and marriage.

But how do the expectations about the right age to marry, have children, or other adult roles affect the kind of life choices adolescents make?   For girls more than boys, early entry into parenthood interferes with later education while the decision to continue education usually means delaying other life choices.  

While there has been considerable research into the different factors that can influence the decisions that adolescents make in shaping their adult lives, a new study published in Developmental Psychology takes a look at how expectations about life timing can play a critical role in those decisions as well.

To read more, check out the new post on my Psychology Today blog.

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