We explain what adulthood is and the stages it comprises. Also, what are its general characteristics and the experiential crisis.
What is Adulthood?
Adulthood is the stage of human development that follows adolescence , in which the individual is already fully developed and constituted as an individual link of the species. It is known as the fourth stage.
Sexual maturity, personality consolidation, and physical fulfillment occur gradually at this peak stage of life , until eventually old age sets in .
The arrival of adulthood is celebrated and ritualized from social, emotional and even legal points of view , since from this stage a full member of society is formed , with all the rights and responsibilities.
Characteristics of adulthood :
coming of age
The age of majority marks, at a variable age depending on the country, the legal entry into force of adulthood . It is usually around 18 and 21 years of age.
It is not exactly a synonym of it, however, and it is not in vain that many specialists consider adolescence as a period that finally ends in the early twenties.
Even so, the age of majority marks the beginning, in the face of the laws and the State , of the adult life of the individual , and it is usually one of the most ritually celebrated dates throughout cultures .
stages of adulthood
Adulthood is a gradual process, it is not an immediate growth. In that sense, two different stages of adulthood can be identified: early and middle.
- early adulthood It includes the initial moment of adulthood, from the end of adolescence to more or less 40 years. It is a vigorous stage with enormous productive power, accompanied by a feeling of fullness that is essential to undertake the professional and individual paths outlined.
- Middle adulthood. It is the “plateau” stage of life, between the ages of 40 and 65, in which a greater settling down and a certain slowing down of the rhythm is expected, despite the fact that it continues to be a moment of great productivity and experience, whose end leads to the cessation of productive life and old age.
What is expected during early adulthood is a yearning for independence in the individual , pointing to needs for physical and emotional space other than the parental home.
Whether or not this can be achieved (this will depend on variables of the socioeconomic environment, cultural and geographical location, as well as the capabilities of the individual), or whether it can be achieved on one’s own, as a couple or in a group , it is a necessity. intrinsically linked to adulthood, especially considering that the mature individual will tend, over time, to found his own family.
Unlike in adolescence, the social ties of the adult necessarily go through their personality and their individual life decisions. Gangs are no longer so frequent , to focus on the couple and on friends who have a similar life path: co-workers, university colleagues, etc.
It is said that the friends made at this stage are truly the ones that will last a lifetime.
Adulthood, and even more so the middle stage, is a period of greater stabilities in the human being . The meteoric emotionality and volatility of character typical of adolescence are often behind us, replaced by progressive self-awareness and greater depth of character.
Decision -making at this stage (especially in the middle) tends to be more conscientious, more the result of meditation and not the emotion of the moment. Which accuses a more accentuated cognitive development in reflection and flexibility, adaptability and individualism.
Most of the adult population marries during early adulthood (between the ages of 25 and 34). It is also the stage of greatest social pressure around issues of reproduction and offspring (especially in women), and the first formal attempts at family life.
In the case of many adults, this decision is postponed for the sake of other experiential areas, but it is common that from the entrance to middle adulthood, the needs of company and belonging derive more towards the family environment , especially with a view to to fatherhood.
Divorce margins, moreover, are clearly increasing worldwide , being more frequent when entering middle adulthood, but the trend points increasingly towards young adults.
Along with marriage, the first attempts at paternity (desired or not) usually occur in early adulthood , which is experienced without the tragic dimensions of teenage pregnancy, but it does represent a challenge for young professionals in training.
Just as adolescent pregnancy is common in underdeveloped societies, in many developed societies there is a tendency to postpone pregnancy and the founding of a family, and even married life, in order to first guarantee professional and individual success, when not economic to deal with it. And many, when the time comes, decide to opt for life models other than the family one.
In less developed countries , too, early adulthood constitutes a struggle to find a place in the work environment or to get an education , so paternity is also seen as an impediment and often an accident that precipitates the formation of the family.
In adulthood , the precepts of morality that will determine life in society are reaffirmed . The social contract, for example, which puts the good of the majority before individual desires, or certain universalist ethical precepts, take root at this stage. And this is because the set of experiences lived and knowledge acquired is already sufficient to evaluate a dilemma from different possible perspectives.
In fact, experts accuse two types of experience as enormous formators of morality, such as: the confrontation of values (such as the one that takes place in the university or in military work) and taking responsibility for the well-being of a third party (such as paternity ). ) . Both types of experiences closely linked to the adult world.
The exercise of sexuality in adulthood finds, ideally, its greatest opportunities for freedom , experimentation and satisfaction. Whether or not within a conjugal or monogamous context, sex reaps an important psychic space in the adult, beginning to give way towards the end of middle adulthood.
Sexuality is perceived as a path towards individual fulfillment and is exercised, in principle, in an autonomous, ethical, open and self-conscious manner.
The experiential crisis
Also known as a mid-life crisis, it usually occurs in the passage from early to middle adulthood , and consists of a radical, sometimes even reckless, rethinking of vital priorities and the rhythm and pattern of life that is led. .
Like many other things in life, it is the product of the awareness of finitude: of the eventual end of life , of the inexorable passage of time, reflected in the end, precisely, of the most socially valued stage in our societies: youth.
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