The Challenge of Being an Adult


Adulthood is the time when most of us encounter death for the first time, marriage, divorce, second families, and career changes and so on.  As such, there are many challenges to be met.  

PARENTING

Parenting may or may not form part of adulthood.  Those that do have children often report improved relationships once the children have left home provided that they remain in contact with the children.  Those that do not have children tend to spend more time involved in companionate activities with one another.

Most parents believe quite sincerely that their responsibility is to raise their children, to take an active part in guiding them, or perhaps in steering them, on their way to becoming mature adults. This role may be an easy or difficult job. Even more than the husband-wife relationship, the parent-child relationship has this serious factor of interpersonal manipulation seemingly built into it, as though part of the job description of Mother or Father.

Single parenting
In many cases—okay, most cases—people are single parents because it is their best or only option. As adolescents we thought we would all live happily ever after with our mate.  In today’s world this is not necessarily true.  Many people are now single parents. It is a new way of being a family that wasn’t so common 40 years ago.  Despite what you hear in the media, single parenting is not all bad news—not at all. If the two parents, can manage to sort out the difficult issues of money, childcare, and their relationship (if any) - single parenting can be a joy. You can gain an increased closeness with your kid, plus the increased sense of control or the opportunity to parent from your own vision.  It may also be the best thing for the child

DIVORCE

Holmes and Rahe (1967) drew up a chart of the most stressful life events giving each a score from zero to 100, with marriage being assigned an arbitrary value of 50.  Divorce was number two on the list with a score of 73 following death of marriage partner at 100.  It was suggested that a high score (200-300) in one year could lead to physical problems the following year.  

Marriages (or more accurately, marital relationships) that are untenable or merely less desirable than conceivable alternatives can and do exist in societies in which there is little or no legal divorce. But neither the typically posed question nor the real question really makes sense upon critical examination. What constitutes a viable marriage (a marriage that two persons both continue to believe to be better than available alternatives) will in turn depend upon married individuals' expectations of marriage and what they insist on getting from marriage, versus what the other options are. Those expectations in turn will go right back to what is perceived to be available or possible in lieu of being in the marriage. People make choices to get married, stay married or become divorced based upon what they believe are the rewards or detriments they will incur in making those choices in lieu of others that are available to them.

TRAUMA AND DEPRESSION

Depression has been shown to be a stage of grief and bereavement and often returns at anniversaries and special occasions such as Christmas.
Other reasons for the onset of depression include a negative self re-evaluation in mid-life, the realisation that some of one’s life goals are not going to be met, divorce and redundancy and so on.

IMPACT OF RELATIONSHIPS ON HEALTH

It has been shown that couples tend to take more care of their health than do single adults of the same age.  They get drunk less often, smoke less, seek help more, exercise more and are generally more health conscious.

An adult individual needs to balance energy intake with his or her level of physical activity to avoid storing excess body fat. Dietary practices and food choices are related to wellness and affect health, fitness, weight management, and the prevention of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

It is very important to reduce one's energy intake at the onset of adulthood, and to make sure that all of one's nutritional needs are met. This can be accomplished by making sure that an adequate amount of energy is consumed (this will vary by body weight, degree of physical fitness, and muscle vs. body fat), and that this amount of energy is adjusted to one's level of physical activity. Foods that are chosen to provide the energy must be highly nutritious, containing high amounts of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and essential proteins.

For adults (ages eighteen to forty-five or fifty), weight management is a key factor in achieving health and wellness. In order to remain healthy, adults must be aware of changes in their energy needs, based on their level of physical activity, and balance their energy intake accordingly.


INTIMACY VS ISOLATION

According to Erikson, this conflict is at its most influential in the early twenties and has usually been resolved by later adulthood.  The individual who resolves this conflict will go on to develop positive open relationships (despite set-backs) rather than retreat into isolation.

This is followed by a period of generativity vs. stagnation.  Here, some accept a somewhat stagnant lifestyle with little excitement but others adopt a more positive view and take on new skills and challenges.

STRESS

As a person moves into adulthood, they may experience stress for the first time, or have increased stress on them, due to the demands of daily life. Leading research from around the world has concluded that 70% to 90% of adults visit primary care physicians for stress-related problems.  

Stressful life events include moving home, coping with illness, retirement and so on. There is a link between stress and illness, although we cannot state that stressful life events cause physical illness
Since neither measure is completely independent.  Also, Holmes and Rahe (1967) found only a small correlation – this will be discussed in more detail later.  

It seems that individuals with good psychological coping mechanisms and/or exercise routines cope better, but also that there are individual differences.

ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLES

Alternative lifestyles are sometimes thought be an expression of social rebellion. Some psychologist today, however, believe that alternative lifestyles are not rebellious in nature but only serve to help the individual find balance, or social or personal identity, in what they characterize as a confusing and often brutal world, especially one that seems harmful or wrong and which they lack power individually to change. This is considered by some to be nothing more than an excuse for deviant behaviour, but for others it is a necessary choice to live their life as they believe.

GRANDPARENTHOOD


Living longer means that most people now lead three lives: first as children, second as adults with careers and most likely as parents, and third as retirees from careers - and for most of us as grandparents. During each of these lives we continually discover and learn new things. We find sides of ourselves that we did not know existed.

Our third life is a time for discovering new talents and creative possibilities in our inner worlds. It is a time for applying the wisdom of the ages to ourselves. It is a time for discovering the full meaning of life and for preparing for the future, whatever that may be.  Being a grandparent means different things. Although grandparenting is not the dominant aspect of most of our lives, it is an aspect that is more important than most of us realize.