Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
100 Things Guys Need to Know3 NBS of Julian DrewA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainAdolescent DepressionAfterAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAmelia RulesAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsArtemis FowlAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBeyond Diversity DayBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBill HensonBipolar DisordersBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoyBoysBrandedBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingCan't Eat, Won't EatCatalystChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinContentious IssuesCrackedCutDancing in My NuddypantsDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDoing ItDoing SchoolDying to Be ThinEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismElijah's CupEllison the ElephantEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEvery Girl Tells a StoryFast GirlsFeather BoyFiregirlForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillGeography ClubGeorgia Under WaterGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlsourceGirlWiseGLBTQGood GirlsGoodbye RuneGranny Torrelli Makes SoupGrowing Up GirlHandbook for BoysHealing ADDHeartbeatHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHollow KidsHow Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHug MeIntrusive ParentingIt's Me!It's Perfectly NormalJake RileyJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKeeping the MoonKilling MonstersKim: Empty InsideKnocked Out by My Nunga-NungasLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLearning About School ViolenceLeo the Lightning BugLet Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLittle ChicagoLord of the FliesLoserLove and SexLove That DogManicMastering Anger and AggressionMind FieldsMiss American PieMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MonsterMore Than a LabelMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNo Two AlikeNot Much Just Chillin'Odd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOf Mice and MetaphorsOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming School AnxietyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeriod PiecesPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellPretty in PunkPrincess in the SpotlightProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Psychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsRaising a Self-StarterRaising BlazeRaising Resilient ChildrenReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRineke DijkstraRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRunning on RitalinSay YesSexual Teens, Sexual MediaShooterShort PeopleShould I Medicate My Child?Skin GameSmackSmashedStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStoner & SpazStop Arguing with Your KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrong, Smart, & BoldStudent DepressionSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTargeting AutismTeaching Problems and the Problems of TeachingTeen Angst? NaaahThat SummerThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Arctic IncidentThe Bipolar ChildThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Carnivorous CarnivalThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Eternity CubeThe Explosive ChildThe Field of the DogsThe First IdeaThe Identity TrapThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Little TernThe Mean Girl MotiveThe Men They Will BecomeThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Nurture AssumptionThe Opposite of InvisibleThe Order of the Poison OakThe Other ParentThe Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Shared HeartThe Spider and the BeeThe StepsThe Thought that CountsThe Unhappy ChildThe Vile VillageThe Whole ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreacherous LoveTrue BelieverTwistedUnhappy TeenagersWay to Be!We're Not MonstersWhat about the KidsWhat Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhen Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhere The Kissing Never StopsWhose America?Why Are You So Sad?WinnicottWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!You Hear MeYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Parenting
Child Development and Parenting: Infants
Child Development and Parenting: Early Childhood

by Richard A. Settersten Jr., Frank F. Furstenberg Jr., and Ruben G. Rumbaut (Editors)
University Of Chicago Press, 2005
Review by Viorel Zaicu, Ph.D. on Jan 23rd 2006

On the Frontier of Adulthood

Take one hundred years. It is an impressive span in time, for a human being. There was wars, economic breakthroughs, migrations, inventions, revolutions, shifts in the education style, etc., with all their consequences: new life styles, targets, habits, expectations, etc. Obviously, one cannot have the same course of life at the dusk of this period as in the dawn. But where is the biggest difference in this course? Which are the salient differences in peoples' behaviors? How much readiness is in our minds and in public authorities minds to "read" these signs that clearly states that people have new life courses, in which not only that they do different things, but they do old things at different moments?

The editors and contributors, many of them members of the MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Policies, have tried to gather all the necessary data for a good understanding of the problem. For there is a problem: early adulthood (or late adolescence) it is a genuine stage in the life of an individual standing in the threshold of the 21st century.

One can compare the data cross-national or simply inside the borders of one country. Adulthood frontier's problem it is not one of the United States, Germany, United Kingdom or France. It is a problem of all advanced industrialized countries: a problem of social institutions, such as welfare regimes, labor and housing markets, religious and educational institutions, and cultural practices, ideologies values and attitudes, which all shape the individual behavior in the same way across those countries. There are, of course, national differences, but we can neglect them -- these differences do not create unique patterns.

The transition to adulthood during the twentieth century is marked by dramatic changes in education and family formation patterns. Structural and economic shifts drew people in the cities, and women were drawn in the labor forces, so that the work and family formation were molded on the new opportunities and habits. Men and women delayed the marriage and individualized their pathways to adulthood. Time use patterns show a convergence between men and women, designed by economic opportunities for young adults and changes in social norms concerning gender equality.

None of these aspects remain unrelated to the others. Obviously, certain combinations between gender, ethnicity, education, etc. are more favorable for a smooth way towards adulthood than others. It is also obvious that some social policies enhance particular sets of personal qualities and dispositions to act. The book includes a set of outlines for the main issues to be addressed through public policies. For example, the need for improvement in the footing of vulnerable populations is very well sketched through the summing of the results showing that there are populations that face insurmountable obstructions after the leave from the public system. In conjunction with the notice that the economic mobility it is not so high to help the overcoming of related problems, we have a good to believe that a government support for redistributive politics is necessary. This refers to the US government, like the other findings regarding public policies improvements, but most of them can be applied to Western Europe's governments as well.

Maybe the main "black point" for the reader who wants to be struck by a chart that pictures the whole of the problem can be seen in the lack of an overall synoptically track of the evolution from the short transition from adolescence to adulthood (as it was early in the twentieth century) to the span not covered neither by adolescence, nor by adulthood. But there are two good reasons for this lack. First, the complexity and amounts of data are hindering such an endeavor. Second, the picture of the phenomenon is in front of everyone. It is impossible to think that there is one person who does not see an example illustrating the behavior described in the book among his friends or colleagues. Surveys' results are meant to reveal the trends and dimensions of the phenomenon, not only its existence, which, at least in some of its aspects, is older than the period taken in consideration. 

The book keeps track of these changes for every important category: childbearing and marriage (separate and in joint sequence), time use (in education, housework, leisure, travel, etc.), generation gaps in attitudes, behavior and values (from the 70s to the 90s). Then follows the changing in conceptions. When do adolescents become adults? How people make the transition to adulthood? How the different pathways affect adult outcomes? How many paths we have? How hard it is for each category to get ahead? Does ethnic and racial diversity counts? How important is the material assistance from families? These are just few of the question raised and addressed throughout the book. Simplifying, we can say that the book is:

  • Introducing the problem;
  • Stating and comparing the differences, along the most important directions;
  • Raising questions about which are the important factors and how these affect the target;
  • Analyzing the policies and practices with regard to the problem, and stating the trends.

Finally, for the book is a result of a big sociological endeavor, I have to mention that the reader will find here not only charts and tables of processed information, but also technical information on surveys, the forms and the methods used, and generally a large amount of technical materials. Of course, this is a precondition for demonstrating the scientific accuracy, but these technical data speak also about the wideness of these studies and the relevance of the findings.

Yet, the authors mention that there are reasons to believe that an exhaustive study of the problem it is not possible. There are challenges and impediments hard to overcome: a highly accurate study is very expensive, some of the paths to special populations are closed, gathering a right research team (which has to be a multidisciplinary one) requires important efforts, etc. But, with large amounts of data and bundles of perspectives, this book represents a very good starting point for the economical, political and generally cultural studies on the western (post-) industrialized countries' citizens. Probably the next step to be made regarding this subject is that of studying the changes in mentalities and moralities, as well as the new challenges raised by the collided interests of lifelong education and social vulnerability of those squeezed by material duties. But there is, also, a rich set of exits towards the field of social problems, not to be neglected by any of those who are seeking answers.

 

Ó 2006 Viorel Zaicu

 

Viorel Zaicu, Ph.D., Bucharest, Romania