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What Are the Reasons for This Prolonged Adolescence in Young Adulthood?

Updated on April 2, 2013
Young Adult Living With Parents
Young Adult Living With Parents | Source

Delayed Emotional Development Dilemma

It seems as if many of our youngsters have been experiencing difficulty transitioning from the period of adolescence to adulthood. Quite frequently, the level of emotional development we have seen in many of our young adults is no way different from when they were adolescents.

In our society today, there seems to be many cases of lingering adolescence in young adulthood. Such prolonged adolescence as often manifested by their behaviors, thoughts process, and especially their emotional dependence with their parents, is so prevalent nowadays, that is prompts me to ask the question, what really are some of the reasons behind this and which gender is more likely to prolong their emotional dependence on parents?

When people take on adult roles, presumably they have emerged from adolescence. However, recent research have shown that psychological adolescence, as manifested by emotional dependence on parents, may linger long into young adulthood. It has been said that most young adults are nearly thirty years old by the time they have established mature relationships with their parents.

Study have revealed that until they are into their mid-twenties, most young adults are still so emotionally glued to their parents that they have little confidence in their early twenties. Only approximately 20 percent of these adults felt that they could cope with most aspects of their lives without their parents' assistance; among those in their late twenties, 80 percent felt that they could make it on their own. Other researchers view the early twenties as a time when young adults are unable to acknowledge their parents as separate individuals with their own needs and strengths and weaknesses. Instead, they view their parents in terms of their own needs such as " were good or bad parents, or did they love me or not, or were they restrictive or demanding?"

Among those who had developed mature relationships, one of the major discoveries was that females usually felt closer to both parents than males did, and they were more likely than males to see their parents as separate individuals. Males with mature relationships were more likely to feel prepared to take on life's challenges, and to feel that they had their parents' respect, but there were were often not enough intensity and depth in their relationships.

Among those adults whose relationships weren't matured, women have the tendency to remain dependent on their parents but to see them as judgmental or self-preoccupied, or both. Men with immature relationships on the other hand, were more likely to be emotionally distant from their parents and to resent their parents' offers of assistance. In their mind, they feel that their parents are trying to use favors as a way of controlling them. Their often contemptuous attitudes toward their parents were likely to conceal feelings of inferiority and anger at what they saw as their parents' inability to accept their sons as they were.

One alarming finding was the ineffectiveness of marriage in helping young adults achieve a more mature relationship with their parents. Married adults were as likely to be mired in immature relationships with their parents as were unmarried adults of the same age. Other researchers believe that people tend to have more mature relationships with their spouses than with their parents. The reason for this is due to the fact that they can walk away from conflicts with their parents but feel compelled to work out their marital issues with their spouses.


When it's time for young adults to begin assuming the roles of adulthood, they are considered to be now at a point in their lives where their emotional dependence on parents should be gradually fading. No doubt, the transition from adolescence to adulthood is a period that calls for emotional development. Young adults are going to require a degree of emotional maturity to deal with relationship issues and other personal life issues. Lacking this emotional maturity, or prolonged dependence on parents will lead to many areas of failure in life.


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    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Thanks for your thoughts on this subject matter. Your points are well taken into consideration! You have really said a lot that make a lot of sense. Actually, you could make this into a wonderful hub. Thanks again.

    • girlgonestrong profile image


      6 years ago from Plymouth, MI

      Honestly, I feel that video games are a major cause in the delay of assuming the mantle of an adult for young men in our modern culture. You may think I'm silly but consider the facts.

      A young man begins to feel the need to accomplish something with his life but the world is not as full of opportunity as it once was. While he's flailing around he ends up spending free time playing video games. In these games people earn "awards" and "achievements" which make them feel like they've accomplished something. Thus the video games gives them relief from the tension that they naturally have to "accomplish something" but what they are accomplishing is really nothing. They're given a digital trophy that goes in their online display case.

      In the end, this can keep going on and on forever. The process is even more pronounced in those who are addicted to Massive Multiplayer Online games such as World of Warcraft. These games, being subscription based, are especially prone to extend forward forever. The feeling that you have a bunch of online friends who are also "achieving" something results in a greater sense of false accomplishment when playing these types of games.

      The entire world of video games is so immersed that young men can blow through their entire 20's before they realize that they're living like a teenager. At that point, however, they're already significantly behind the power curve where succeeding in life is concerned.

      If we could root out video games from our culture, it would yield massive benefits.


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