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Parent's Guide to Identity Development for Young Adults

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are more conscious of themselves and how they relate to their social environment. This consciousness is known as identity development. This conscious feeling starts in the teenage years, but it does not fully come to the limelight until young adulthood.

Parents should not be scared when their children and ward start having independent minds and want to stay on their own. They are trying to understand themselves as having a separate identity independent of their immediate environment.

Identity development includes what young adults believe in their ambitions, purposes, and values. For young adults, identity development is composed of exploration, association with the social environment, and consistent execution of options gotten through the exploration process.

It is for parents to note that it is not easy for their young adults to find themselves, but the process of identity development cannot be missed or eradicated. It is not easy because they get to make their own decisions and take responsibility. The identity development process helps young adult find their purpose in life, and parents are to encourage them as they go through such parts.

For young adults who are not prepared to take part in identity development, parents should not pamper them and take in their excesses as this will not help them develop the necessary skills for life challenges.

Stages Of Identity Development for Young Adults

Parents should note that there are different statuses of identity development in young adults. This different status means that young adults respond differently to the acknowledgement of finding their identity.

The theory of identity development was formed by James Marcia whose work was published in the 1960s. Amidst another theorist who had talked about identity development, Marcia went further to break Identity development into four statuses.

The stages include:

  • Identity diffusion: this position paints young adults who do not have the zeal to explore more from life. They are not ready yet to find their self. One could say they are comfortable with the life chosen for them by their parents. All they seek is comfort and desires. Such persons live in free apartments and eat free food.

  • Identity Foreclosure: this second kind of young adult does not want to explore what life has installed for them, but they are willing to accept any identity given to them. These particular young adults do not mind their parents/guardians deciding their life for them. They cannot find out things for themselves. They believe what they are told and do not question what they hear. You can say they follow the lives of other people in their family. One can often hear the phrase “This is how it is done”.

  • Moratorium: moratorium is for those who want to taste life, but do not want to settle. They believe in why waste life and stick to one thing when there are a lot of options. Young adults who identify as the moratorium identity position have an experimental spirit; they are not afraid to try new things. But the challenge is the ability to find focus, goal, or passion. They want it all. The young adult in this position has not made up their mind about the path they want to take.

  • Identity achievement: Young adults within this position, have a great degree of both experiment and commitment. They are ready to accept risks and take up responsibilities. It is quite rare to meet young adults with identity achievement between the ages of 18 to 25 years. In most cases, they are already full-blown adults. But there are quite a few, and this is because of different factors. Either they have had a rough upbringing and are determined to be the best they can be or their parent or guardian put them on the right track, by encouraging them to find themselves. Identity achievement persons have great thinking and execution abilities. They know their beliefs, and they understand their goals in life.

According to James Marcia, these positions of identity personality are very common in our environment. All parents have to do is study their wards or children who are becoming young adults and understand their thought processes and pattern.

Factors That Impact Identity Development for Young Adult

There are lots of factors that affect the purse of identity for young adults. Having great knowledge of who you are and what you have to offer has an impact also on your mental health.

Parents need to create good avenues for children to grow up and also learn time and ways for children to find themselves when it is time. Environment as well as behavioral factors from childhood affects identity development.

Without further ado, here are some intricate factors that can impact identity development for young adults:

  • Family: Young adults' immediate family environment, can determine their identity. If a male young adult is in a family where he had everything he wants till he gets to 22 years of age, chances are he might be comfortable with such a lifestyle and would not want to explore other options.

  • Personal expression: if a child while growing up, has not built the ability to express themselves, then there will be an identity crisis when they get to the young adult stage.

  • Life experiences: as earlier said, tough life experiences as a child can impact the identity development process of a young adult. Also, a healthy childhood experience will be a positive impact.

  • Society norms: how society wants young adults to behave can make them not see themselves in another light. Society believes that at a certain stage in the life of a young adult, there should have figured everything out. Meanwhile, there are different strokes for different folks.

How Parents/Guardians Can Help Young Adults During Their Identity Development Stages

Parents have a lot of roles to play in the lives of their young adult and this starts from childhood. Parents need to be mentally and emotionally sound to create the right atmosphere for a child's development.

Internally, parents can preach about morals and values. They can also act on it or model family values for their children to emulate. This model process helps develop the child’s brain to know what is right and wrong.

Externally, parents can show love, support, and encouragement when they find their young adult trying their best in any areas that are of interest to them. The support and encouraging words from parents show trust and love.

Believing in the abilities of a young adult as a parent helps boost their self-esteem, make them take responsibility for their actions, and move forward no matter the challenges they encounter in life.

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