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Adults still feel like kids, study shows

Adults still feel like kids, study shows



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SALT LAKE CITY — A recent report shows that many young adults still feel like they're kids. Counselors in Utah say there are a few reasons why this is happening.

Over 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 29 were surveyed by researchers at Clark University. Sixty percent of them were reported as saying "adulthood will be more enjoyable than my life is now."

Some other findings include 52 percent of those surveyed said they have daily contact with their parents, while 34 percent said their parents are more involved in their lives then they want them to be.

Researchers are using a relatively new term to describe the transition from adolescence to independence, calling it "emerging adulthood."

"We've needed to coin a term that describes that time after high school graduation, but, before you're able to complete schooling and live as a functioning, independent adult," said Julie Hanks, a social worker with Wasatch Family Therapy.


Researchers are using a relatively new term to describe the transition from adolescence to independence, calling it "emerging adulthood."

She said that sometimes, the kid is the problem. "These emerging adults are wanting to have their cake and eat it, too. They don't want the responsibility, they just want the benefits."

She said she's noticing more parents having difficulty convincing their adult children to get out of the house. Many parents aren't charging their children rent, or pushing them to find work or go to school full time. But, Hanks said there are some parents that are reluctant to let their kids grow up.

"They're really afraid to let go of the role of full-time caretaker," she said. "It has been so all- consuming for years and it's a scary transition."

Hanks said this is especially prevalent among mothers. But, shedding the role of full-time caretaker can also be an exciting time for people. She helps people focus on their previous ambitions and goals, giving them motivation to "find themselves" once again.

But, she also said there are people who are too afraid to focus on their own relationship as a married couple, so, they let the adult child stay in the home. Hanks said they're worried they may have grown apart, they won't have anything in common anymore, and, their marriage may not survive.

"It allows them to hide behind parenthood and not deal with some relationship and marriage, or, maybe disconnection or fear of really getting to know each other as a couple without children."

Sadly, she says parents who use their child as a shield to protect themselves from a dysfunctional marriage are doing a lot of damage to the grown-up child. Hanks said it doesn't benefit anyone to hide behind the role of being a parent.

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Paul Nelson

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