Happinest Podcast

03: Helping Young Adults Succeed in an Era When 30 is the new 20, with Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

Being Available as a Parent Helps Young Adults Succeed in an Era When 30 is the New 20 and They Take Longer to Graduate from College, Get Married and Launch a Career.

Jeffery Jensen Arnett, author of Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties, is a research professor of psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is the author of Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties. In his book, he explains his new theory of development: Adolescents don’t go straight to adulthood—as you may have noticed. Rather, there is an in-between phase from ages 18 to 29. He calls that phase “emerging adulthood.”

Jeffery says it’s healthy and even helpful for our kids to take a more circuitous route to adulthood. You see, things have changed: 30 is the new 20. He’s co-authored a book along these lines entitled: Getting to 30: A Parent’s Guide to the 20-Something Years.

When’s he’s not teaching or researching, Jeffrey writes text books. Lots of them. He also loves country music, sings and writes songs and has penned a book about heavy metal music and adolescent alienation. He keeps a guitar in his home office.

He was a Fulbright scholar and is the editor of the Journal of Adolescent Research.

Jeffrey is my guru and go-to guy when it comes to advice for raising our three young adults.

Did you like this episode? Please feel free to share it using the social media buttons below. I’d also be VERY grateful if you could rate, review, and subscribe to HappiNest on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Play.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Don’t expect your kids to march through the portals of adulthood at this same age you did. That’s not a fair comparison. Times have changed. Kids are taking longer to get educated, get married and have their first kid.
  • “Emerging Adults” are seeking a period of exploration before they tie the knot and start a family. Their parents were the most divorced generation in American history, and they want to take their time finding a life partner.
  • As Taylor Swift says in the lyrics to her song “22”: “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.” Young adults today are exhilarated with the feeling that anything is possible. But they also have more angst as they face a greater scope of opportunity than the previous generation.
  • Most parents are giving some financial assistance to their kids through their twenties. If your young adults have a plan and are pursing it, and you can give them a bit of assistance now, their chances of success are going to be greater.
  • Let your young adult fledglings initiate communication. Don’t worry if you hear radio silence. You need to respect the distance they need. They have to make a life for themselves.
  • Research shows that emerging adults who have involved parents are much more likely to succeed in every way. They tend to have better mental health, educational achievement and career lift. Nobody is really ready to fend for themselves at 18, or even at 21 or 22. Some parents sign off at that point, but it makes it really difficult to make your way to adulthood.
  • This generation of young adults has a real desire to do good, beyond what is personally meaningful. They are more accepting of those who are different than them and are more educated than previous generations. That extra education makes for better citizens, parents, mental health and marriages. They are going to make the world better!