According to Dr. Bowers Trial Independence usually unfolds between ages eighteen and twenty-three, and problems are characterized by these common changes. The adolescent struggling to be adult:
Has lower self-esteem from a sense of incompetence, not being able to adequately support all the demands and keep all the commitments of adult responsibility at this “grown-up” age.
Feels anxious over not having a clear sense of direction in life.
Is easily distracted by peers who are confused about direction, too, partying more to deny problems or escape responsibility, as the period of maximum exposure to drug and alcohol use begins (Bowers, 2011).
Many adolescents in this stage struggle as they enter and fulfill their college years. This phase of Trial Independence comes with many uncertainties. I often state that it is during these ages that many of life’s biggest changes occur: Choosing a college; graduation from High School; moving out of this house; many transitions of friendships; college graduation; dating; courtship; marriage; beginning careers; graduation from college… The changes seem endless.
All of these transitions create much anxiety and often adolescents in this stage experience significant adjustment issues. One of the keys to adolescents navigating these transitions well is to have a consistent example of a healthy adult to be a role model for them.
We must remember that as parents possibly the most important job we have is to model to our children what a healthy adult is. Often times the things we don’t like about our children are the things we don’t like about ourselves. Well… if we don’t want our children to act a certain way then we should not act that way ourselves. Children of all ages watch their parents intently to influence how they behave. We as parents need to continually critique how we live and parent to set the best example possible.