The new stages of life

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Chapter 5

Adolescence and Youth


I. The Favorite Age

--> childhood was discovered or invented in the 18th and 19th centuries, with the emergence of the private, domestic, companionate family and formal schooling

--> childhood as we know it today is a relatively recent cultural invention
-- our ideas about children, child-rearing practices, and the conditions of children's lives are dramatically different from those of earlier centuries. (so goes it for adolescence)
--> adolescence arose with the industrial revolution and the founding of mass education systems, particularly the large public high school.
--> before adolescence existed, on farms and in towns, children over 7 tended to be gradually absorbed into the world of adult work, assisting their parents or serving as apprentices.
--> in the 19th century, when elementary education became widespread in Western society, many children went as far as the 6th or even the 8th grade, but few remained in school beyond age 14
--> High school education began to be available to a substantial portion of the population only at the end of the nineteenth century
-- 1900 - students comprised less than 10 percent of the total 14-16 year old population
--> with demands of urbanization and new technologies, the labor force needed more highly educated work force which led to more educational opportunities and delaying entry into the paid labor force
--> now in Western society, especially in U.S., there tends to be a long period, now called Ayouth@ when many young adults attend college or engage in athletic or recreational activities or travel to foreign countries rather than making firm commitments to work or marriage.
--> so adolescence seems to be the period between 12 and 18 or 19 and Youth than is extended for a couple of years beyond that (5 or 6 more years).

II. Storm and Stress

--> We often conceptualize adolescence as a time of storm and stress

Discussion Question:

Is adolescence a period of storm and stress? For whom? Parents or kids? Why?

Some argue, yes it is --
For the kid --

-- the youth problem - whether the lower-class problem of delinquency, or the identity crises and other psychological problems of middle-class youth - has continued to haunt American and other modern societies since this declaration of adolescence as a time of storm and stress

For the parent --

--> although sexual activity and experimenting with drugs and alcohol have become common among middle-class young people, drug use has actually declined in recent years

- disturbing as these practices are for parents and other adults, they apparently do not interfere with normal development for most adolescents.
--> Pasley and Gecas (1984) found that 62 percent of the mothers and 64 percent of the fathers in their study perceived adolescence as the most difficult and stressful stage of parenting.
C This may be particularly so for a first-born adolescent
C Gecas and Seff (1990) concluded that for Athe paretns of adolescents, therefore, adolescence may indeed be a time of storm and stress, at least in modern times.
C Oppenheimer points out that it is certainly the most financially demanding period for parents. (Financial burdens could result in storm and stress).
--> the ideology of storm and stress during adolescence is sometimes blamed for creating a stressful time. Most clinicians and many researchers, as well as the majority of teachers and layperson, still cling to the notion that it is Anatural@ to be rebellious, to have a messy room, and so on during adolescence.
-- This in and of itself makes adolescence a difficult time for parents because these beliefs prevent society from making adolescents accountable for their actions and placing maturity demands on them.
C These beliefs also force parents to accept and suffer painful and useless rebelliousness, and prevent them from making adolescents responsible for their participation in family dynamics.

Some argue, no it is not --
--> "our society has passed from a period which was ignorant of adolescence to a period in which adolescence is the favorite age. We now want to come to it early and linger in it as long as possible." -- Phillipe Aries
--> Parent-adolescent conflict -

C research indicates that parent-adolescent conflict generally pertains to daily routine events rather than key value issues. In other words, there does not seem to be too much conflict, although both parents and adolescents report more of it now than in earlier years.

C although, we might be able to explain this by the fact that parents and adolescents may not be discussing sex and drugs (controversial issues) even though they may have differing opinions on those issues.
C some researchers argue that disputes within a supportive family context contribute to strengthen the parent-adolescent relationship rather than tear it down.

Discussion Question #2:

What role do rites of passage play in this period of transition, or don=t they?

Would this ease the Astorm and stress@ if you are inclined to believe it exists? Why or why not?

III. Important Socializing Agents
A. Parents/Parenting Styles
C parents are important socializing agents during childhood and adolescence for sure.
C different factors can affect the way in which parents actually parent, for example, social class influences parenting.
-- social class affects the values that we teach our children
-- most parents want similar things for their children; however, what is most important to parents varies by social class.
--> Kohn=s work

--> working class parents -- value conformity

-- good manners, neatness, cleanliness, obedience to parents, good student

--> middle class parents -- value self-direction

-- autonomy, good judgement, self control, considerate of others

--> why does Kohn find this relationship?

-- parents work -- if have autonomy in job, like most middle class jobs, then value this for children

-- if are supervised on the job, like most working class jobs, then value obedience for children
-- parents teaching their children what they think the children need to survive
C we also know that parenting styles vary from parent to parent and these styles influence life course outcomes.
C we will address 3 parenting styles that have been discussed in the literature: authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive.
Parenting Styles:
--> Baumrind=s work

-- study began with 3 year olds in nursery school

-- traced the consequences of different styles of parenting
-- found:

-- Authoritative parents -- combine both warmth and respect for their children's individuality with monitoring of their activities and where-abouts.

--> Such parents explain to their children the reasons behind their demands.
--> once they have explained the reasons and the consequences, they follow through with enforcement of the rules.

-- Permissive parents and Overprotective parents -

--> involves very low level of control, lack of supervision or monitoring, and little parental involvement in making maturity demands on children or adolescents.
--> it can be combined with either a high level of warmth and acceptance or with disinterest and even rejection.

--> often had children who were less independent and more immature in their behaviors

-- Authoritarian parents --

--> these parents are particularly controlling, although some may also be quite warm.
--> often times there is control and a lot of arbitrariness to this style of parenting.
--> Parents tell their children what to do and may punish severely and indiscriminately. Others are mainly restrictive.
--> others are erratic in terms of control: they threaten, then punish one day, but fail to follow through the next day.
--> this type of discipline is not effective because children resent it and can take advantage of its inconsistencies.
--> often produces anxious and less socially responsible children
Discussion Question:

Which style of parenting is most affective? Why? Which is least affective? Why?
--> we now have very solid evidence that learning appropriate social behavior is best insured by parents who are authoritative (neither authoritarian nor highly permissive) in setting standards for the child and insisting on adherence to those standards, while remaining warmly supportive
-- parents who stressed individuality, self-expression, initiative, a questioning attitude, and who tolerated a certain amount of aggressiveness had children who were more competent and independent, provided that the parents were not lax and inconsistent in discipline or unwilling to make demands upon the child

Most affective: Authoritative
--> parents who were authoritative and yet supportive had children who tended to be more friendly, cooperative, and achievement-oriented than either authoritarian or permissive parents
--> this child-rearing style is one that is high both in warmth and monitoring - two variables that have been correlated with successful child and adolescent outcome in all types of family structures in North America and other countries.

--> Of all parenting patterns, the authoritative one correlates the most with good adjustment both in children and adolescents on all dimensions of development.

Least affective: Permissive
--> low parental control and rejection is a combination that has been consistently related to a host of negative outcomes, including delinquency and drug use.
--> some become uninvolved parents -- these parents are both permissive and indifferent or permissive and rejecting. The prefer to have as little to do with their children as possible in terms of providing them structure.
--> this results in children who are unsupervised and may feel that they are unloved, which may be so in extreme cases.
--> such parents fail to set rules concerning school, behavior at home, or activities with peers.
--> their adolescents tolerate frustration poorly, are more likely than others to be underachievers, and to become delinquent; they lack emotional control and long-term goals as well as purpose in life.
--> Bronfenbrenner indicates that parental permissiveness has more negative consequences than authoritarianism in times when there is cultural and social instability.
-- lots of supervision is needed in instable times and permissive parents do not provide this for children and adolescents.
-- basically, if you think about all the stuff kids have to deal with today compared to 50 years ago, even 30 years ago, we see that they are presented with a lot more dangers more quickly than in earlier times.
-- so being permissive may be more dangerous than authoritarian parenting where at least structure is provided (although too much structure).

B. Peers/Peer Culture

--> Family is not the only socializing agent that is important in the childhood/adolescent/youth years, PEERS become a very central socializing agent in the lives of children

--> high schools become small societies with their own sub-culture

--> with peer cultures comes a new focus of interest, amiable companions, a ready made hierarchy of likes and dislikes, and some hope of personal gratification
--> to the extent that youth peer groups are arrayed against the family and the establishment, they convey a feeling of liberation from the straight world inhabited by parents and other adults. But participation in these groups also involves a sacrifice. Often it involves submission to the peers and their tyranny
--> what helps to create this peer culture?

1. Media

-- we=ve got the 20 somethings watching Friends

-- we had the 30 somethings watching Thirty Something

-- the media circulates much of the culture for a particular group
2. The youths themselves
--> James Coleman wrote The Adolescent Society in which he describes adolescent culture
--> he suggests that high school is dominated not by the quest for knowledge but by the quest for fun and status
--> elements of this culture
1. Looking inward -- young people tend to look to one another for their primary cues to behavior and their satisfactions
-- evolve their own fads and fashions in music and entertainment and in dress
2. Psychic bonds -- to each other.
-- for many adolescents, really close ties tend to be confined to other adolescents. Others continue to find emotional support and satisfaction in family relationships, but by early adolescence participation with the family in its leisure activities tends to drop off even when there are no serious tensions
3. Autonomy from adult restrictions.
-- tend to admire those who buck the system. Kind of becomes an us versus them because the larger society seems to be dominated by adults who derogate the activities of adolescents

4. Concern for the underdog
-- and for fair treatment of persons subject to the authority of others
-- youth are in a sense underdogs
5. Change
-- youth are interested in change, in seeing social institutions modified

*** Discussion Question ****

--> How accurate do you think Coleman=s description of the adolescent culture is?
--> Critique:

1) same for both genders?

2) same for all races/ethnic groups?
3) sounds as if it is a product of its time -- where change was a major concern of adolescents (at least the middle class kids in college) but are adolescents today looking to change our bureaucracies in this world? Are they even voting?
--> fewer adolescents and young adults, who are legally able to vote, actually vote than members of any other age group up to age 70 at least
4) focused on the popular cliques in high schools -- we know from Thorne=s work that this is not always the most accurate depiction of all adolescents (or age group of interest)
5) Peer influence is strong but so is family influence and Coleman=s description of adolescent culture seems to minimize importance of family (which may be the case for the everyday kid just not the most popular or visible kids)
--> research comparing parental and peer influences in Denmark and U.S. found that peer influence was relatively stronger in the U.S., but nevertheless most U.S. adolescents reported that they felt emotionally close to their parents and relied heavily on their parents for guidance and advice.

--> Discussion Question:

-- Does peer culture stand in opposition to families?

-- it provides some of the same functions as families and is sometimes not consistent with families; but it not totally anti-family.

--> Sexual Expression in Adolescence as part of peer culture
-- sex is part of adolescent culture -- girls are experimenting with sexual activities younger than they were in the past. Boys are still experimenting around the same age as they were in the past. (somewhere around 16).
-- orientation to sexuality is often different for boys and girls (at least what they learn in their families)
-- parents are reluctant to talk about sex with their kids, this often has more drastic consequences for girls than it does for boys

-- the use of contraception by a girl entails planfully thing of herself as sexually active and seeking information on potentially available means of contraception

-- most girls will be loath to talk directly to their mothers about being sexually active and will be more likely to seek information from peers who are close friends or from sources with which they can preserve anonymity
-- as a consequence, there is a lot of risk taking which could end up in pregnancies
-- it appears that the general orientations regarding conduct and personal responsibility that a girl receives in the family may be more important in their influence on sexual expression and contraceptive use than the specific discussion of sexuality and birth control

IV. Integration of Biological and Social Factors again
--> Being-on and off time in biological development is very important during adolescence and has social ramifications for youth
--> height and body build can strongly influence the social reputation of boys and girls.
-- early maturing means greater height, weight, and strength which gives the early maturer a great advantage over later-maturers

-- advantages in athletics and in attractiveness to the opposite sex
-- attractiveness to the opposite sex -- for girls -- what might the consequences of early maturing be for girls life course outcomes?
1. may expose them to pressures for dating and sexual favors from much older boys and men
2. which could lead to premarital pregnancy
-- What is the impact of premarital pregnancy on life course outcomes? Why?
1) drop out of high school

2) continue to live with their parents and parents raise child (which may even reinforce the adolescent mother=s own dependency on parents)

3) tends to define later career or at least to limit educational attainment which precludes any sort of professional career

--> effects on self-esteem and self-image

-- the adolescent must cope with a rapidly changing body and with hormonal and other physiological changes that bring new urges and heightened emotions
-- if this physical maturing come early -- there is less time for preparation and for developing an understanding of the social consequences of these changes.
-- also there is no one to go through this with you at the same time so you may think of yourself as weird or odd
-- you are also perceived differently by those around you; they may have different expectations or place new demands on you
-- this can be a bummer and stressful because the body may be physically maturing but that doesn=t necessarily mean that the adolescent is intellectually or socially any more mature
-- research shows that girls who mature early --

1. are more likely to score low on achievement tests

2. more likely to acknowledge themselves to be school behavior problems (than the kids who have physically hit puberty yet)

3. more likely to drop out of school by the tenth grade

-- research shows that boys who mature early (from 1930s and 40s sample)

1. are more poised, relaxed, and good-natured than their late maturing peers

2. Seen as more conventional and less expressive

3. more satisfied with their muscular development

4. higher self-esteem

**** these findings especially significant among working-class boys

-- if it comes late -- there may be, especially for boys, gnawing anxiety about attainment of full male status and the persistent experience of being treated like a younger child
-- same research on boys who mature late

1. observed as acting younger than they were

2. Less popular with their peers

3. seldom occupied positions of leadership

4. expressed hostile feelings to their peers than did early maturers

5. often felt their parents restrained their activities

V. Personality/Identity in adolescence
--> Many of the life course or stage theories suggest that personality develops or solidifies during adolescence. Do you agree or disagree?
--> Assuming that personality does Acome together@ during adolescence, is it stable from adolescence/youth through old age or does it change over time?
--> Different Perspectives:

1. Stability -- Psychological perspectives: not likely to anticipate major change in personality after the first few years of life

-- perhaps because of the need to believe in consistency of one=s self from moment to moment and from year to year, we tend to infer an unwarranted degree of consistency in others. Some consistency is indeed necessary for social intercourse
2. Stability and Change -- some social psychological perspectives --
-- perhaps those with high self-esteem work to maintain it, those with low self-esteem labor to improve it.

-- basically, in striving to protect self-esteem, the personality stays stable, but in striving to change self-esteem, the personality must change
3. Change -- other social psychological perspectives --
-- we are constantly taking on new roles as we move through the life course therefore we are constantly changing our role set and thus our conception of who we are
--> research is not real clear and suggests both stability and change:
-- part of the reason for the mixed results in these studies is that none of them use the same measures of personality. Some are measuring attitudes, some measure self-concept, self-esteem, planful competence, etc.
-- Bennington Study -- Alwin, Cohen, and Newcomb
-- looking at a cohort of women at Bennington College during the 40s
-- found that their attitudes/personality was most flexible and changed most during their college years.
- a follow-up study, 50 years later, shows that these women have the same attitudes about politics, themselves, etc. as they did when they left college
-- Why???
-- Alwin, Cohen and Newcomb suggest that perhaps these women=s attitudes stable out over time because they have moved into environments that are consistent with those attitudes that they had coming out of college.
-- Clausen (1991) AAdolescent competence and the shaping of the life course@
-- RQ - looking at the relationship between planful competence and personality stability over the life course
-- planful competence operationalized as: 3 components of personality -- self-confidence vs. victimization, intellectual investment, and dependability
-- Methods: merged the Guidance Study, the Berkeley Growth Study, and the adolescent Growth Study which were all initiated around 1930
-- these studies combined contained over 500 boys and girls in adolescence
-- about 40 years later they did a follow-up on these same individuals (only found 281 of original respondents) when they were 53-62 years in age.
-- Finds:

-- highly competent adolescents show less change than their less competent peers

-- planful, competent adolescents had fewer disruptions of marriage and career over the middle years than did less planful, less competent ones.
-- Clausen suggests that greater stability in relationships and work leads to less change in personality because less role change/transitions
-- He also suggests that these more competent adolescents get positive feedback, confirming the persons they are.

VI. Educational Attainment and Occupational Choice
--> education is a huge part of adolescence -- in fact, it was one of the major creators of adolescence as a life course stage
--> educational attainment affects occupational choices
--> what affects educational attainment during adolescence?
1. Family=s status and individual=s ability influence classroom grades, aspirations for college attendance, self-confidence in ability to do schoolwork, as well as occupational plans and general attitudes toward school
2. Parents who have themselves attended college can guide their offspring toward academic sequences that are appropriate to the children=s interests
3. Social class and motivation -- motivation is particularly important in the working class, where many parents have little appreciation of the difference college attendance can make. The working-class youngster who wants to go to college must be sufficiently determined to over come financial and informational deficits.
4. Economy -- 2 century ago a high school diploma was all one needed for high occupational success. Now, college graduation for most is a prerequisite to high occupational status
-- today most adolescents graduate from high school
5. Race -- the minority youths (most black) who are seeking to make it big as a professional athlete gets recruited and exploited by universities.
-- often create bogus schedules for these athletes, just to keep their grades up, and then suck up their 4 years of eligibility without giving them an education in return
-- when they go to make it in the NFL, NBA or some other professional arena, they find that their chances of making it there are very slim because everyone has the same skills they do.
6. Gender -- sometimes girls are encouraged to stay away from certain courses because they are Astereotypically@ male type courses
-- this is likely to cut women off from certain careers (like careers that need a strong background in math)

-- sometimes girls are not encouraged to go to college
-- women=s alternatives to college are likely to be almost-immediate marriage or a short-term job, then marriage

VII. Transition from Adolescence to Adulthood
--> eventually, we need to make the transition to adulthood
--> do we have any rites of passage that mark the beginning of adulthood?

1) college graduation?

2) marriage ceremony?

3) taking our first job? How is this celebrated, if at all?

--> this transition used to be much more stage like in early times.
1) leave school

2) take on a job

3) marriage

4) couple establishes their own single household

*** and there were a good number of years between these stages
--> now these stages are much closer together if not overlapping
--> also, children are starting to separate more from parents when they go to college; more independent living (even during the summers) is starting to become more of the norm.
--> for those youths who do not go to college, they often live with their parents until they marry, but these youths are also starting to experiment with independent living
--> we also have the revolving door phenomenon -- older children after college, after divorce, are starting to return home to live where it is cheaper

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