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No longer adolescents, but not yet fully adult, today’s older teens and 20-somethings are charting a new path to maturity – quite different from the one taken by previous generations. What’s behind this new life stage, and what does it mean for parents of today’s teens and tweens?
By Sandra Whitehead
Katie Tripeau has spent much of her 20s exploring. After graduating from college, she found a job in advertising. She worked for about a year, long enough to afford a trip to Australia. At age 23, she spent six months traveling in Southeast Asia with friends who, like her, “weren’t ready to start their lives, so to speak.”
When she returned, Tripeau “temped around” to earn money. Now, at age 27, she’s back in her parents’ home while she studies to be an elementary school teacher.
“I didn’t feel any pressure to settle in a career,” she says. “It was a time to experience and think about what I want to do.”
A generation ago, young people like Tripeau finished college, started careers, moved out of their parents’ home and, in many cases, got married in their early 20s. These days, all of this is happening five to 10 years later as young people take longer to finish their schooling, are ambivalent about what they want to do with their lives and are not driven to start a career or a family. Many of them return to their parents’ homes sometime during their 20s to regroup, save money and ponder their next steps.