Pathways Through Adolescence: An Overview
Lisa J. Crockett Ann C. Crouter The Pennsylvania State University
Adolescence is commonly viewed as a period of preparation for adulthood. During adolescence, young people reach physical maturity, develop a more sophisticated understanding of roles and relationships, and acquire and refine skills needed for successfully performing adult work and family roles. The developmental tasks of this period -- coping with physical changes and emerging sexuality, developing interpersonal skills for opposite-sex relationships, acquiring education and training for adult work roles, becoming emotionally and behaviorally autonomous, resolving identity issues, and acquiring a set of values (e.g., Havighurst, 1972) -- are all tied to successful functioning in adulthood in one way or another.
The movement toward adulthood colors our expectations of adolescents, and hence our treatment of them. We expect adolescents to move away from the adult-directed activities of childhood toward the emotional autonomy, responsibility, and self-direction that are characteristic of adulthood. Consistent with these expectations, adolescents are granted increased freedom of choice: To varying degrees, adolescents select their academic courses; choose their friends and activities; and make plans concerning posthigh-school education, employment, and family life.
Many of these decisions have important implications for young people's subsequent life course. Educational decisions, such as whether to attend college or not, affect future career opportunities and vocational development ( Klaczynski & Reese, 1991; Osipow, 1983). Similarly, becoming an adolescent parent often limits educational attainment and employment opportunities