It is apparent that transition from adolescence to adulthood is a period of storm and stress. This is so because this transition encompasses developmental changes which determine the life span, or rather an individual’s competencies during adulthood. Ideally, transition into adulthood is expected to promote development in emerging adulthood, as well as the rest of an individual’s life. As such, acquisition and consolidation of values, competencies, social capital, and attitudes serves paramount importance in ensuring youths experience a successful transition. Therefore, the diverse changes that occur during this transition can be defined as a ‘storm’; whereas the overwhelming aspect of responsibilities can be described as ‘stress.’ In reality, this transition can be successful or failure depending on the tensions involved in the transitional period. Some of the possible tensions that some young people may experience include challenges in cognitive skills development, faults in social relationships and inappropriate identity formation. Adolescence coincides with the schooling years during which young people acquire professional skills and establish their careers. Therefore, it is at this time when young people need good social skills, confidence in intelligence abilities, coping skills, and self-esteem. These enable them to experience successful transition to adulthood. However, not all transitions are successful, and failures are attributed to the tensions experienced by young people during this period.
TENSIONS DURING TRANSITION FROM ADOLESCENCE INTO ADULTHOOD
Transition from adolescence to adulthood places adolescents in distinct stages; young and adult, with diverse experiences and responsibilities, at the same time create a timely storm. In some circumstances, adolescents experience immense dilemma during this transition owing to their anticipation of the stage mixed with experiences of the lost stage. In addition, this transition involves loss of adolescent status and transformation into adulthood status. As such, they are required to undergo transient psychosocial readjustment, in order to experience a successful transition. Despite the relevance of these changes, some adolescents do not undergo a successful transition due to the challenges that emerge during the transitional period. Some of these challenges are related to the acquisition of skills, bonds within family structure, friendships, and employment system (Zarrett & Eccles 2006). In general, socio-cultural, labour market and demographic changes create faults in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. These tensions may lead to failure of this significant transition, and this has been identified to be costly the individual and the society. Therefore, this paper will provide a comprehensive discussion on some of the tensions that young people face during transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Foremost, young people experience tension in acquisition of skills required for adulthood. Ordinarily, adolescence stage coincides with the schooling years during which young people acquire professional skills and establish their careers. Therefore, it is in this time when young people need good social skills, confidence in intelligence abilities, coping skills, and self-esteem. However, schooling for young people is not a smooth affair where they graduate from one level of education to the other stress-free. Educational development encompasses stressors that present challenges to young people as they continue with acquisition of skills. In educational growth, excellent achievement is considered as an indicator of success in the future life. This is so because young people are expected to make plans for their future lives through designing promising goals which incline them on a successful adulthood. However, life changes at this stage which has been identified to cause what is referred to as ‘intrapsychic upheaval’ create significant declines in self-perceptions, interest and academic performance which are accompanied with high risks for school dropout and academic failure. It is reported that academic decline is a known phenomenon that faces young people during adolescence (Zarrett & Eccles 2006). Theoretically, school environment tends to mismatch with the adolescence changes leading to academic declines in self-concept and interest. In most cases, social environment in schools and colleges does not meet the needs of young people; thus, making it difficult motivating them and improving their academic performances (Eccles, Midgley, Buchanan, Wigfield, Reuman & MacIver 1993). Therefore, academic decline at this stage creates significant tension in the process of skills acquisition.
Another tension that may be experienced by young people during their transition from adolescence to adulthood is social relationships. Psychosocial well-being of young people determines the bonding between young people and others, including their parents. Ordinarily, humans begin developing social relationships from infancy. For instance, social bonding between a child and its parents begins at a tender age and extends into adolescent. On the other hand, social relationships between siblings, peers and members of the entire society develop as an individual goes through physical and biological development. In most cases, individuals establish more social relationships before adulthood although this phenomenon manifests itself in all stages of development. Therefore, young people share social bonds with their parents, siblings and peers which sustain their psychosocial well-being. As such, losing these bonding creates tension; whereas establishing new social bonding, especially with couples for those who enrol into parenthood presents new experiences.
In order to demonstrate how social relationships are essential for young people who are preparing to become adults, it is worth reflecting on the significance of family relationships, friendships and romantic partnerships. It is apparent that a family is an essential institution for young people because it serves as a source of positive development assets. For instance, families provide social capital to young people, as well as offering emotional and financial support. These assets are essential in positive development; thus tensions in family relationships create tension in the transition to adulthood. Ordinarily, young people experience parent-child conflicts, especially during the early stages of adolescence when young people show resistance to family norms. At this stage, young people tend to defy family rules and abandon family roles in an effort to increase their autonomy and independence (Roberts & Bengton 1996). In other situations, some youth lack family support to undergo successful transition into adulthood. This occurs when parents are not willing to provide the necessary support to their children or when parents are absent, especially in cases of orphanage. In other situations, parents are not available for their children due to other family issues such as divorce, and this denies young people the benefits of good family relationships. Despite the role played by adults rather than parents such as parents of friends, coaches, teachers, program organizers, and spiritual leaders, especially in structured activity settings, tension in family relationship may contribute to failure of transition. However, some young people utilize the social support from additional mentors in the society to improve their family relationship during late adolescence, and use it as a buffer for negative peer influences and poor parent-child relationships. This enables them to eliminate the consequences of tensed family relationships; thus, experience successful transition into adulthood (Sherrod, Haggerty & Featherman 1993).