Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Leaving Home for African Americans in the Emerging Adulthood Era: A Phenomenological Study

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Leaving Home for African Americans in the Emerging Adulthood Era: A Phenomenological Study

Article excerpt

There has been limited research regarding how minority culture youth experience leaving home. Eight African American individuals who had "launched" from their families-of-origin were interviewed. By using Moustakas' Transcendental Phenomenological method, several themes emerged to describe the lived experience of leaving home. The themes included needfor independence, a comparison ofprivilege for others and oppression for self, obligation to family, andpride in self-sufficiency. According to the findings in this study, leaving home for young African Americans is a culturally distinct experience which aligns more closely with traditional patterns of leaving home. Although the emerging adulthood era functions as a context in which the participants exist, the young African American participants in this study identified delayed launching as a "failure."

Keywords: Moustakas, Phenomenology, Leaving Home, Failure to Launch, Emerging Adulthood, African American

When and how young people leave home and establish themselves as independent adults appears to be changing. In past decades, young people in their late teens to mid- twenties obtained full time employment and moved out of their parents' homes, beginning their lives as legally and culturally accepted adults (Garcia-Petro & Blacker, 2011; McGoldrick, Gerson, & Petry, 2008; Waters, Carr, Kefalas, & Holdaway, 2011). However, home leaving in today's society has become more complex and diverse (Aronson, 2008; Nelson, Bahrassa, Syed, & Lee, 2015; Twenge, 2013). For instance, some researchers believe the home leaving developmental milestone now occurs in the mid to late 20's, with most individuals living independently by 30 years of age (Arnett, 2007; Kins & Beyers, 2010). Within the framework of typical family development, leaving home is described as a primary task for young adults (Nichols, 2013). Some researchers define it as a stage within the process of human development (Arnett, 2000; Carter & McGoldrick, 1989; Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2013).

One of the best known family stage models is the 8- stage Family Development Stage Theory by Duvall (1977) in which stages 1-5 represent development from stage one, a married couple with no children; stage 2, childbearing families; stage 3, families with preschool children; stage 4, families with school aged children; and stage 5, families with teenagers. Stages 7 and 8 represent middle aged parents with empty nest and aging family members, respectively. Of most importance to the current study is stage 6, which includes families launching young adults. This stage is defined by the period of time when the oldest child leaves home and ends when the youngest child leaves home. In westernized culture, home leaving is a major component within the family life cycle (McGoldrick, Gerson, & Petry, 2008).

Not leaving home until after one's mid-twenties is often considered a "delayed launch" by many in Western society (Burn & Szoeke, 2016; Cohen, Kasen, Chen, Hartmark, & Gordon, 2003). Some members of society, especially parents and grandparents, characterize a delay in launching as a "failure" to launch (Arnett, 2006), and the delayed launchers may perceive themselves to be lagging behind their peers in becoming adults (Kins & Beyers, 2010). The belief is that young adults who do not leave home within the expected age range of 18 to 25 have failed to achieve a normal developmental milestone. That Western society refers to this now typical phenomenon as "delayed" or "failure" reflects bias within researchers' and laypeople's perceptions of the transition to adulthood. This bias may be a generational bias, but it also may be a cultural bias produced, in part, by researchers sampling from primarily White, middle class populations (Syed & Mitchell, 2013).

Although some researchers have examined challenges faced by African American youth, much of their focus is on high-risk populations (Fussell & Furstenberg, 2005; Hines, 2011). …

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