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The teenage years are never smooth-sailing, but family wellness is at its peak when your kids hit the 18-30 age bracket. This is according to Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a research professor in psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, who conducted a poll of parents in order to see how well they get on with their young adult children. Based on the data from 1,029 parents whose children are ages 18 to 29, Arnett says the results paint ‘a very positive picture of how they view their kids and get along with them.’
The survey results show that relationship wellness soars during this time, as 73% of respondents reported “mostly positive” relationships with their kids, while 86% named their kids as a “source of enjoyment” over spouses, pets and hobbies. Arnett argues that the results ‘run counter to the notion that parents are angry and pulling their hair out in frustration’ over young adults who take too long to complete educations, get good jobs or get married.
The poll also found that 64% of parents do not find their children to be a source of stress, and 40% are “not at all concerned” that their children will ever find stable jobs, as 18% say that’s already happened. 38% of those polled reported having grown children living at home, and 61% of this subgroup commented that it’s a “mostly positive” experience. However, 42% of parents acknowledged that money is a source of conflict in the parent-child relationship, and approximately one-quarter worried about their children’s mental wellbeing.
According to Linda Perlman Gordon, a clinical social worker who has co-written two books on parent-child relationships, ‘This generation is enjoying their kids, and the two generations are unusually close.’ However, Alan Reifman, a professor of human development and family studies at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, argues that such closeness can backfire ‘if the parents are doing so much day-to-day problem solving and trouble-shooting that the child never learns the skills to do that.’
Arnett coined the term “emerging adults” to describe young people who are neither adolescents nor full adults, and is the co-author of the book When Will My Grown-up Kid Grow Up? released this week. He commented, ‘The parents of today’s emerging adults are mostly Baby Boomers. When they were young, they often had difficult and distant relationships with their parents. They were determined to be closer to their kids than they were to their own parents, and they’ve succeeded.’