On the New Parent Toolkit — “Young Adult Identity Development: A Parent’s Guide”

As you explore the new content on the NBC Parent Toolkit, check out this one in the new Life After High School section on a young adult’s changing identity. On the first break when your college student or new workforce member returns home, you may witness a strikingly different person than the son or daughter you knew who lived at home with you. There are significant shifts that take place with an emerging adult’s identity. And you, as a parent, will be trying to figure how to adjust to this newly forming adult-to-adult relationship. How do you show support without being overprotective? Where do boundaries lie with involvement in their schoolwork or relationships?

This period of transition can be stressful but it can also forge a new bond that may serve as an anchor for you and your son or daughter. Deborah Pearce, Professor of Communications and a mentor of mine, recalls, “Looking back, this was surprisingly one of my favorite times. She needed me in a different way and we could discuss our personal and professional interests on a more adult level.” Here’s how it begins…

Young Adult Identity Development: A Parent’s Guide

“I am most excited about the freedom that I will have when I graduate from high school. The freedom that I am searching for is not to escape my family or anything of the sorts, but the freedom of going to a college and being myself.” Lexie, Class of 2017, Summersville, WV

Throughout their lifetime, your kids have been developing a sense of self, of identity, and self-awareness. You may have even noticed they became increasingly self-aware around puberty or around the 13-14 age range. But there is perhaps no greater time of identity development than in the years following high school. Ages 18-25 offer your kids even greater opportunities to develop a firm sense of self.

Education consultant Jennifer Miller says this age is full of tests that young adults often use to understand if they are “worthy.” These tests can present themselves in the form of a job interview, acceptance into a fraternity, dating, or new friendships. All of those tests can be overwhelming, but they are important for young adults to experiment with their own boundaries and rules. They have been accustomed to rules at school and at home, but as their new adult life emerges, they get to redefine their own rules. Read the full article on this important topic! 

And for those in the U.S., Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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