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A cover story in the New York Timesmagazine asks "What Is It About 20-Somethings?" and answers with a reassuringly familiar phrase – It's just a stage they're going through. Emerging adulthood, the new nomenclature for the third decade of life, isn't merely an extended sojourn in the limbo between adolescence and adulthood, but its own life stage. Aided by brain researchers who've come to the unsurprising conclusion that neurological processes that improve cognition and impulse control continue well into the 20's, baby boom parents can relax – it's not our fault our grown kids are taking so much longer to get a life than we did, especially one that includes marriage, a career, and a home of their own.
Outlining the economic, cultural and sociological factors involved in this generation's delayed independence (while hesitantly raising the possibility that some parents may enable it for their own narcissistic reasons),the article offers a close-up look at a residential facility for the psychiatric treatment of post-adolescent ADD- addiction, depression, and dependence – as well as more severe mental illnesses common in this age group.The goal of treatment is variously described as watching the behavior unfold, helping meet the demands of imminent independence, helping empower agency, and coping with the challenges of this life stage without coddling or rescue. It costs $21,000 a month to encourage kids to separate from their parents – or, as they call it, teach them how to know when to stand alone and when to accept help.
The blogosphere is buzzing with commentary about this article. In summary, it seems that most of us watch the behavior unfold without paying experts to do it for us. We judge parents who can and do with envy or scorn according to our own life experience. We all know kids who've tripped and fallen, detoured or even dead-ended on the way to independence. Some of them are ours.: But most of us are holding our breath, wondering, worrying and hoping. It's our new life stage - Postparenthood.

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Aug 23, 2010
    • Oh boy is this hitting home! I don’t know whether to feel relieved or hysterical. The 20-something in our household is going to be 30 on her next birthday and is so far away from independence on any level it’s frightening. Thank you, Jane for bringing up this topic. I hope other members speak out on this blog so we can share some of our experiences and offer each other some hope.

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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Nerissa wrote Aug 31, 2010
    • I pray a lot, even more than when they wre little. My mother in law says it best “when they wre little, they were on your lap, now they are big, they are on your heart.”

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