Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
Why Are Today’s Youth Taking So Long to “Grow Up”?
Posted in Financial Chall... by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Dec 25, 2013
There seems to be an entire generation of young adults that would just as soon leave off the word “adult” in their descriptor. Those individuals who came of age right around the year 2000, otherwise known as Millennials, are truly struggling to find their way out in the big world.

There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon, which range from longer life spans to modern parenting styles. Many of these kids came out of college to an economy that was less than stellar, which made the competition for available jobs pretty stiff. So now we are faced with an entire group of young adults, who are grappling with depression, in greater numbers than previous generations.

This group is facing somewhat of an existential crisis, in an attempt to understand their purpose in life and connect with their true selves. This is not a new dilemma for burgeoning adults. College graduates often spend years trying to “find themselves” but when we see a 16% rise in mental health visits since 2000, as reported by a 2012 study from the American College Counseling Association, then we need to endeavor to find the source of the problem. A startling fact also reported, is that 44% of college students stated they had symptoms of depression and one of the primary causes of death among college students is suicide. These are heartbreaking statistics.

As I have written in several other articles, the trend towards over-parenting has not helped these young adults navigate the world on their own. Many of them have been so coddled that they have a hard time figuring out how to get their electricity turned on and sign a lease for an apartment. They have become virtually disabled by all of the parental supervision, starting way back in elementary school when their parents would complete their homework assignments. In an increasingly competitive academic environment, the pressure to succeed and excel starts early and too many parents have helped contribute to the frenzy.

Kids who have been genuinely over-parented consistently show higher levels of depression and are more likely to need anti-depressant medication than their more independent peers, according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Child and Family Studies. It is as if the constant softening of blows throughout childhood have left these young adults ill-prepared to handle the inevitable hardships later in life.

Parenting trends are changing and hopefully future generations will not be in the same position as Millennials now find themselves. Nevertheless we have a crisis of sorts with those who do face becoming responsible adults before they feel ready to do so. Universities and their mental health services need to be prepared and keenly aware of this unique struggle and practitioners who encounter these young adults need to find the best way to help these kids learn to help themselves.

- Cyndi


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You hit the nail on the head! I had a 26 yr old patient in my ER who had been in a minor car wreck. When I asked his allergies and medical history he said, "You'll have to ask my grandfather," who was not present yet. I explained to the "adult" male that he really needed to know his own medical history since his grandfather may not always be available. The patient looked a little confused. Feeling that I had said enough I asked where he was headed. Totally floored me when he said, "My wife and I were on our way to pick up our new baby from Children's Hospital." Lord help us! I see the ill effects of helicopter parents all the time. Another example: suicidal students who've never been allowed to face and conquer their own challenges now contemplating death because of a relatively minor setback. Parenting is not the job of raising children. It's the job of raising those healthy, conscientious and contributing members of society called ADULTS.
By ScrappyRN  Jul 23, 2014
I recently wrote a response article to story written by a therapist who had a similar point of view. Remember how older folks said similar things about baby boomers and generation X? Perhaps it's just because we're older and because you're talking about rich white kids...
By ladyla  Dec 30, 2013
Parents are much to blame. These children were given basically everything they wanted. That "you want to give them what you didn't have" mentality never did anyone any good. They sewed the coddling, and now they reap the generation of dependents.
By Girldawg1  Dec 29, 2013
As a 21 year old, I definitely have to say it is because parents aren't letting kids make mistakes and doing everything for their children.A lot of the kids in my home town have their tuition 100% paid and are given money to rent a house, yet they are taking their education far from seriously. So who do you blame? The kids my age who know nothing else, or the parents who do?
By KellDB  Dec 28, 2013
Thank you for posting this. My son is 26 and is just beginning to enter "adulthood". I have padded his way for far too long! He's currently needing to have electricity and other utilities turned on in his new home (and yes, I got the loan for him) and has no clue how to do it. This is MY fault, not his.

What is it about MY generation that made us prefer to keep our kids as children rather than relish in watching them grow up and mature and leave the nest?

Interesting post and one I'll be pondering~~

Peace and Love,
By RememberKala  Dec 28, 2013
Wealth begets wealth and poverty poverty.

I see very few children breaking the bonds of poverty and becoming wealthy individuals.

I do see the "have's" protecting the "have" children and those children go on to excellence without having to play basketball, baseball, or football with other-side-of-the-track kids.

These "have" kids are very definitely protected and, yet, need not bother with the problems and stressors of living a hand-to-mouth existence. These kids make 3.9's, usually pull their weight to the extent of getting scholarships that self-pay school to a large extent and they have no problem turning on the lights and finding their way.

They likewise go on to open Pharmacies that the "have not's" patronize for their antidepressants.

Buffy and Biff do fine. I'm not sure of who you are referring to in this article.
By TibetianTiger  Dec 26, 2013
Bull! Its because of helicopter parenting, too many rules about protecting, over medicating kids and not letting them be kids! Not letting kids out in nature where GASP they might get a little owie!Let em be kids. Let em play rough. Let boys be boys and girls be girls.
By TroJanThunder  Dec 25, 2013
Good article. I have 4 kids, ages 10-19. We will see soon if we've over-parented. There are a few signs.
By WldLuv2Jog  Dec 25, 2013
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