Moving towards adulthood: Ready to take the plunge Moving towards adulthood: Ready to take the plunge

The end of adolescence brings emotional, physical, and psychological changes. It is a challenge for teenagers and parents that can be taken on with empathy and understanding.

Advisor: Catalina Robles
Psychologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare

The magic formula for becoming a responsible adult, aware of yourself and your environment, does not exist. The experiences an individual goes through shape his or her character and ability to make assertive decisions. In this process, adolescence and its different stages are fundamental, especially the later stage, which goes from 17 to 19 years old.

It is time to finish high school. Some change city, some even change countries, some have to work, and others can continue studying. It is a period of great transformations and new responsibilities that are not easy to assume and can unconsciously affect family dynamics. “There are cases where the fear of the unknown and the anxiety brought on by the changes can cause mood swings, which is when teenagers become very short-tempered with their parents,” explains psychologist Catalina Robles. Therefore, the role of the family is indispensable in this process. “Good communication, treating each other well, and assertive dialogue are paramount in these relationships.”

Generally, professional life is high on the list of those going through this stage. During this time, they learn about the career they have in mind, what subjects they are going to enroll in at college, and what job opportunities they have.

However, some feel unsure, lost, and are not ready to take this step. “It is also valid that they do not want to start their professional career immediately,” adds Catalina. “There’s no longer that eagerness to graduate high school with a place reserved at university. In this case, parents can encourage them to invest that time in other activities, be it arts or a pre-university or skills course, such as learning a new language. There are many possibilities.”

It is an important decision that defines many elements in a person’s future, so it should not be taken lightly or used to speed up independence. The specialist states that “we all have different skills and tastes. And at that age, there are already certain patterns that guide you in making that decision.” It is a matter of letting children follow their intuition, giving free rein to their abilities when choosing what to do.

The psychologist emphasizes that parents must also learn to accept the changes that come with this stage, to be tolerant and respectful of their children’s decisions. “This new generation wants to experience many things. Imposing a degree, job, or lifestyle on your kids is not right, especially if they have a very clear idea of what they dream of or want to do.”

Welcome to adulthood

This is one of the most important stages in life. What is learned in early childhood is put into practice, and experiences are key and decisive for adulthood. Here, for example, one begins to establish emotional and psychological independence and begins to understand sexuality.

It is important to remember that each person’s process is different. Some people come out of this transition without any problems, while others’ family or social context becomes a little more complicated. “There are very relaxed parents and very strict ones. I think the main thing is to find the balance and be somewhere in the middle, remembering that a teenager’s behavior calls his family’s attention.”

Having conversations and opening your mind to the changes your kids are going through will prevent parents from making faulty judgments about their decisions and from being seen as a judge who only disciplines. Parents must approach them with love, have adult conversations, and talk about their new responsibilities with total honesty.

Teenagers at the end of adolescence have greater abilities to reason, explore, and develop new ideas and opinions about their context and future.

Parents, take note

  • It is important to establish new rules at home as well as study habits, which teach them that from now on what happens with their college education is their responsibility.
  • Many parents consider this stage to be a crisis, but it isn’t. These are natural processes that need support and understanding.
  • Talking to them about independence isn’t enough, they must make their own decisions and be consistent with their actions.
  • Regardless of each family’s parenting style, talking to them about tolerating frustration and encouraging them to be aware of what is going on in their community, to assume a role in society, is important.