Are Millennials, tagged with being coddled and entitled, embracing their emerging adulthood or are they, like Peter Pan, determined to stay in their own Neverlands (translation: their parents' homes)?
“I won’t grow up,” declared Peter Pan. The leader of the “Lost Boys” swore he would “never wear a tie and a serious expression,” because “growing up is awfuller than all the awful things that ever were.” Millennials find themselves in the phase of life between adolescence and full-fledged adulthood—dubbed “emerging adulthood” by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Ph.D., a research professor of psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts.
Is this generation, tagged with being coddled and entitled, embracing their emerging adulthood or are they, like Peter Pan, determined to stay in their own Neverlands (translation: their parents’ homes)? Clark University’s “2014 Clark Established Adult Poll finds that young Millennials are going happily into adulthood. A majority of those hitting the Big 3-0 report being hopeful (74 percent), happy (72 percent) and excited (59 percent).
“Established adults do not lose their optimism and sense of fun and freedom, even as they take on the responsibilities of adulthood, Arnett said in a statement.
But how do today’s emerging adults define adulthood? The poll finds:
- Accepting responsibility for yourself (36 percent)
- Becoming financially independent (30 percent)
- Finishing education (16 percent)
Only 4 percent said that getting married was a signifier of adulthood.
This may go back to the whole coddled/entitled thing, but three fourths of Millennials respondents to the Clark Poll stated that it is more important to enjoy work than to make a lot of money, while 82 percent said it is important to them to have a job that does some good in the world.
The recession and challenging job market have compelled many Millennials to delay many of societal adult rites of passage, such as buying a home, getting married and starting a family. But a majority (52 percent) of the Clark Poll respondents report being parents. Eighty-five percent of these state that parenthood brings “more meaning to life.” On a list of 14 possible sources of enjoyment, “relationships with my children” ranked highest, the poll found. “What other human experience could damage your finances, your sex life and your career and still be regarded as your greatest source of joy?” Arnett said.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.