Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Individuation in Relation to Parents: A Case with Slovene Emerging Adult Students

Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Individuation in Relation to Parents: A Case with Slovene Emerging Adult Students

Article excerpt


This paper introduces some characteristics of emerging adulthood as having been observed in Slovenia over the past decades. Special attention was devoted to exploration of Slovene emerging adults' individuation from their parents. Within the framework of individuation theory and country-specific context, several aspects of individuation in relation to mothers and fathers were investigated among 201 university students. Five reliable factors of individuation were revealed and a relatively strong agreement between student reports in relation to mothers and fathers occurred for the respective factors. Females and younger students expressed a stronger need for closeness with parents than males and older students. The students reported more need for closeness and engulfment anxiety in relation to mothers than fathers. At the same time, more detachment, fear of love withdrawal and ambivalence were perceived in relation to fathers than mothers. The students residing in their parents' home exhibited less feelings of detachment in relation to mothers than their peers who lived out of their parents' home. Intimate relationship status was not associated with any individuation variable. Students who see themselves more adult showed less fear of parental love withdrawal. Although the study revealed some interesting findings about individuation in the post-adolescent period, future research should consider other developmentally relevant domains of individuation in emerging adulthood which are not captured by existing instruments.

KEYWORDS: emerging adults, university students, individuation, achieved criteria for adulthood


Emerging adulthood refers to the age period from late teens through mid- or even late twenties. It is characterized by a great deal of diversity and change in young people's residential arrangements, intimate relationships, educational and work activities as well as by a prolonged identity exploration, subjective sense of ambiguity in achieving full adult status, self-focusing, and perceptions of many possibilities in their life-course (Arnett, 2000; Buhl & Lanz, 2007). Over the past two decades, this period has been clearly observed across postindustrial societies, which emphasize the role of education, professional training, individual choices and personal independence in an individual's life. Thus, young people's entry into the adult roles and responsibilities, such as leaving parents' home, marriage, starting a full-time career and parenthood, has been notably postponed (Arnett, 1998; 2000).

Emerging adulthood in Slovenia

The youth in Slovenia is, like in other Western type societies, given a prolonged period of identity exploration and self-focusing, i.e., freedom from institutional demands and obligations, competence and freedom to decide for oneself (Puklek Levpuscek & Zupancic, 2007; 2010; Zupancic, 2011). Consistently, when asked about whether they think they have reached adulthood, a vast majority (86%) of students, aged from 18 to 27 years, did not perceive themselves as adults or adolescents but rather in-between an adolescent and an adult (Zupancic, 2011). Postponement of entering into the adult world in terms of reaching traditional markers of adulthood (e.g., moving out of parents' home, getting married, becoming a parent) has been, similarly to the overall trend of delay in postindustrial societies (Kuhar, 2007; Scabini & Cigoli, 1997), noticed in Slovenia since the 1980s, i.e. before the socio-economical system changed. The trend of prolongation of the transition to adulthood in Slovenia, its origins, descriptions, explanations and consequences, including emerging adults' family relationships, have been almost exclusively provided by sociological research. Studies from this perspective are described next to provide some relevant information about the living context of the Slovene emerging adults.

Along with demographic changes - a decrease in fertility, an increase of extramarital partnerships and childbirths, increasing age of the first marriage and parenthood (Statistical Yearbook, 2006) -, a notable change in life experiences of the Slovene youth was noticed in mid-eighties. …

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