Transition to Adulthood
The Transition to Adulthood
• Becoming an adult is a process
• This process begins in childhood and
continues until you are an adult:
– in your own eyes
– in the eyes of your parents
– by the law
– by the society you live in
The Transition to Adulthood
• An individual’s development is a gradual
• It is marked by distinct and significant
Ex. Puberty, graduation, getting your driver’s licence,
marriage and adulthood
• Rites of Passage: rituals that celebrate an
individual’s passage from one stage of life to
the next
• Stages of life are not the same in all societies
4 Stages of the Hindu Life Cycle
1) Brahmacharya
– youth
– begins at about age 10 and lasts for about
10 years
– before this stage, a Hindu child is not
considered to be fully formed yet
– primary expectations of the individual
is to remain celibate and become
educated, particularly in religious
4 Stages of the Hindu Life Cycle
2) Grihastha
– marked by marriage
– Hindu men and women are expected to
raise and care for their family and do what
is economically necessary to ensure their
children prosper
4 Stages of the Hindu Life Cycle
3) Vanaprastha
– means service
– once the children have reached the 2nd
Stage, Hindu parents enter this 3rd Stage
– individuals are expected to focus more on
religious beliefs and rituals and begin to
separate themselves from their families
– gradually give away their material wealth
and possessions to prepare for the next
4 Stages of the Hindu Life Cycle
4) Sannyasa
– retirement
– some Hindus may live as religious sadhus
(holy men) and sadhvi (holy women)
depending on the charity of others in the
– live without any personal attachment to
family or friends
• This cycle repeats for their children
generation after generation
Enmeshed Family
Everyone speaks for everyone else.
Outside boundaries are very tight & difficult to penetrate by outsiders.
Information is difficult to get in or out
But boundaries inside are loose.
Loyalty to that systems What will leaving home be like?
Fear of having an emotional cut off therefore emotional ties are
Guilt of abandonment
Stressful, feel torn between family & new relationships
May connect with someone else before becoming an autonomous
Spouse will never get in, may go home for visits alone, feel torn.
Disengaged Family
Loose boundary outside but clear boundaries inside
Myth of self sufficiency & courage persists
Little expression of feeling or concern or mutual sharing
Anyone can penetrate but at a distinct distance What will
leaving home be like?
Wonderful ability to deal instrumentally with a crisis without
mutual sharing
Difficult in forming relationships, to express intimacy, to
express feelings
Don’t know how to make good solid connections
Can leave home without concern as to what will happen to
mom & dad
Differentiated Family
Distance regulating
Ability to express feelings
Love’s 2 functional components
Ability to stand alone (requires courage)
Ability to reach out (requires enough self
esteem to risk disappointment)
• Creative responses in new situations
The Pace of Development
• Progress from one stage of life to another has
been described as the interaction of several
clocks, each ticking away at its own pace
• The age of majority reflects the chronological
clock and defines adulthood in terms of the
number of years since birth
• The physical changes that result in sexual
maturity and the attainment of full adult size
and strength are determined by the biological
The Pace of Development
• The psychological clock reflects how the brain
is developing as individuals acquire new
mental processes and more mature ways of
understanding the world
• The social clock sets the timetable for
society’s expectations concerning when
certain events should occur in the lives of
• Becoming an adult is probably determined
more by the social clock than by any other
The Pace of Development
In Canada, progress from one stage to another has been described as the
interaction of several clocks:
Changes with social norms
Timetable for society’s expectations for events to occur
Number of years since birth
Chronological Clock
Changes in nutrition & health improves
Physical changes
Biological Clock
Changes, but difficult to detected
Brain development, mature
Erik Erikson
• 1st psychologist to describe predictable stages
of human development from childhood
through adulthood
• Developed 8 stages in which an individual’s
identity emerges and matures
• Each stage represents a conflict, in which the
person is challenged by new situations and
circumstances in life
Erik Erikson
• Individuals are pushed through the stages by
their biological clock and by the social clock of
the society in which they live
• Identity development reflects the
progress of the psychological clock
• By resolving each conflict at each stage, the
individual acquires the basic strength needed
to meet the challenges of the next stage in life
• Failure to resolve the conflict results in
difficulties the individual will face later in life
Erik Erikson’s 8 Psychosocial Stages of
Stage 1
Ages: Infancy (birth – 18 months)
Basic Conflict: Trust vs. Mistrust
Important Event: Feeding
Children develop a sense of trust when
caregivers provide reliability, care, and affection.
A lack of this will lead to mistrust.
Erik Erikson’s 8 Psychosocial Stages of
Stage 2
Ages: Early childhood (18 months – 3 years)
Basic Conflict: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt
Important Event: Toilet Training
Outcome: Children need to develop a sense of
personal control over physical skills and a
sense of independence. Success leads to
feelings of autonomy, failure results in
feelings of shame and doubt.
Erik Erikson’s 8 Psychosocial Stages of
Stage 3
Ages: Preschool (3 – 6 years)
Basic Conflict: Initiative vs. Guilt
Important Event: Exploration
Outcome: Children need to begin asserting
control and power over the environment.
Success in this stage leads to a sense of
purpose. Children who try to exert too much
power experience disapproval, resulting in a
sense of guilt.
Erik Erikson’s 8 Psychosocial Stages of
Stage 4
Ages: School age (6 – 12 years)
Basic Conflict: Industry vs. Inferiority
Important Event: School
Outcome: Children need to cope with new social
and academic demands. Success leads to a
sense of competence, while failure results in
feelings of inferiority.
Erik Erikson’s 8 Psychosocial Stages of
Stage 5
Ages: Adolescence (12 – 18 years)
Basic Conflict: Identity vs. Role Confusion
Important Event: Social Relationships
Outcome: Teens need to develop a sense of self
and personal identity. Success leads to an
ability to stay true to yourself, while failure
leads to role confusion and a weak sense of
Erik Erikson’s 8 Psychosocial Stages of
Stage 6
Ages: Young Adulthood (18 – 40 years)
Basic Conflict: Intimacy vs. Isolation
Important Event: Relationships
Outcome: Young adults need to form intimate,
loving relationships with other people.
Success leads to strong relationships,
while failure results in loneliness and
Erik Erikson’s 8 Psychosocial Stages of
Stage 7
Ages: Middle Adulthood (40 – 65 years)
Basic Conflict: Generativity vs. Stagnation
Important Event: Work and Parenthood
Outcome: Adults need to create or nurture things
that will outlast them, often by having children or
creating a positive change that benefits other
people. Success leads to feelings of usefulness
and accomplishment, while failure results in
shallow involvement in the world.
Erik Erikson’s 8 Psychosocial Stages of
Stage 8
Ages: Maturity (65 years – death)
Basic Conflict: Ego Integrity vs. Despair
Important Event: Reflection on Life
Outcome: Older adults need to look back on life
and feel a sense of fulfillment. Success at this
stage leads to feelings of wisdom, while
failure results in regret, bitterness, and
Jane Loevinger’s Theory of Ego
• Identified 10 stages in the formation of
the ego
• Ego = a term introduced by Freud meaning the
understanding of self
• Begins in infancy with the understanding that
you are an individual separate from your
• Full ego development = autonomous self
Loevinger’s Ego Development
• Autonomous Self = Being a self-reliant person
who accepts oneself and others as
multifaceted and unique
• Understanding of self is the centre of human
• Few individuals ever achieve full ego
development, however we all strive for it
• Progress from one stage to another is
determined by psychological clock
Loevinger’s Ego Development
• Young adults between conformist stage &
conscientious stage
• Conformist stage – view life in stereotypical ways in
an attempt to classify human experience so they can
• Self-aware – understand & accept individual
differences ; distinguish variation in feelings and
opinions that make us unique
• Conscientious stage – able to appreciate others as
individuals in reciprocal relationships
The Family Life Cycle Framework
• Early adulthood is a stage in which individuals
are launched from their families of origin
• Parents and children must separate from one
another so that young adults can be selfsufficient for themselves prior to forming a
new family
The Family Life Cycle Framework
• Young adults must master 3 tasks to become
self-sufficient adults
1) Individuation – forming an identity separate
from that of their family origin
2) Develop new intimate relationships with
peers outside the family to provide the social
and emotional support they need
3) Commit to a career or workplace role
The Family Life Cycle Framework
How do parents help their children become selfsufficient?
• Relationship between parent and child must
become less hierarchical so the young adult
can accept responsibility for their decisions
• Parents must accept differences in opinion
and decisions the young adult makes
• Parents must accept that the child is forming
new intimate relationships with others which
will become the new primary relationship
The Family Life Cycle Framework
• Focuses on early adulthood in relation to
marriage and parenthood
• In the mid-20th century, when the theory was
developed, most Canadians married and had
• Although this is not the trend today, research
shows it is still the expectation for most
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of
the Seasons of Life
• Psychologist
• Proposed that the life course evolves through
seasons lasting about 25 years each
• The era of early adulthood lasts 25 years,
begins near the end of high school at 17 years
old until middle age in the early 40’s
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of the
Seasons of Life
Early Adult Transition - 17 to 22 years old
• an individual must leave behind adolescent
life and begin to prepare an adult life structure
(the plan or design of an individual’s life)
• separation from the family of origin, emotional
not physical separation
• modify or end relationships associated with an
adolescent life to make way for new adult
• complete education and/or start work
• make some preliminary plans for adult life
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of the
Seasons of Life
Entering The Adult World - 22 to 28 years old
• time for building one’s life structure
• 4 Major Tasks of this period
1) Forming a Dream and giving it a place
in the life structure
2) Forming mentor relationships
3) Forming an occupation
4) Forming love relationships, marriage and family
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of the
Seasons of Life
Entering The Adult World
• Dream: the individual’s sense of
self in the adult world and is the
core of the life structure
• Nature of the Dream will vary, but most
describe some combination of occupational,
family and community roles
• A Dream can be precise or mythical
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of the
Seasons of Life
Entering The Adult World
• Choices of occupation, love relationships and
peer relationships may support the Dream
• Many individuals develop relationships with
mentors who support their Dreams and
facilitate their progress
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of the
Seasons of Life
Entering The Adult World
• Young adults build and test a preliminary
life structure that integrates work, love
and community to attain their Dreams
• The challenge is to balance the creative
exploration of various options for their life
structure with a desire to make a commitment
to a life structure that supports their Dream
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of the
Seasons of Life
Entering The Adult World
• The problem is that until individuals
begin to live out the life structure, they
do not know all of the possibilities
• Yet without some commitment to the choices
they have made, it is not possible to
determine whether the life structure might be
realistic or satisfying
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of the
Seasons of Life
Age 30 Transition - 28 to 33 years old
• Individuals re-evaluate the life structures that
they formed in their early twenties to
determine whether they are living out their
• Inner voice: “If I am to change my life-if there
are things in it that I want to modify or
exclude, or things missing I want to add-I must
now make a start, for soon it will be too late”
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of the
Seasons of Life
Age 30 Transition
• As individuals adjust their life structures,
individuals might choose to marry or to get a
divorce, to have children, or to change jobs at
this time
• Time to “get real,” after testing their
early choices for a few years
before settling down in their