Life-Span Developmental Psychology: Intergenerational Relations

By Nancy Datan; Anita L. Greene et al. | Go to book overview

6
Daughters and Sons as Young
Adults: Restructuring the Ties
that Bind

A. L. Greene

West Virginia University

Andrew M. Boxer

University of Chicago and Laboratory for the Study of Adolescence Michael Reese Hospital

Perhaps more than any other phase of the life cycle, young adulthood is considered an evanescent and easily forgotten cluster of life changes or transitions, a set of bridges extending endlessly for some and briefly for others. Indeed, few students of the life cycle, Kenniston ( 1970) notwithstanding, write of young adulthood without the qualifier of "transition to" or "transition from." In the United States there is no one event that formally marks the transition to adulthood ( Featherman, Hogan & Sorenson, 1984; Marini, 1978). Beginning in late adolescence a number of role entries, punctuate this rather unroyal road to adulthood: The end of mandatory schooling, entry into higher education, exit from the parental home, the establishment of an independent household, entry into full-time labor, marriage, and parenthood.

Several historians of the family have noted that at one time transitions were more a family matter ( Hareven, 1982; Modell, Furstenberg & Herschberg, 1976). The critical aspect of such transitions was not the age at which they occurred, but how such transitions related to those of other family members. Across adjacent and nonadjacent generational positions, family members share expectational sets about the advent and timing of individual and shared life events ( Hagestad, 1981; Neugarten, Moore & Lowe, 1965; Pruchno, Blow & Smyer, 1984; Riley & Waring, 1976). One example of this shared expectancy is the advent and timing of leaving home. Parents and children share mutual expectations of when and how children leave home.

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