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Failure to Launch

The sequence of milestones during the life course is monumental as it depicts a pre-defined pattern of movement towards a predestined stage in life. Today’s children do not seem to follow the contemporary uniform pattern on their way to maturity. Rather, they accelerate towards their maturity in an uneven, individualized pace. Some of today’s kids never really experience the five milestones of the life course, regardless of whether the choice is theirs or forced by circumstances. Others achieve the milestones in a very disorderly process; there are those who decide to seek professional advancement before entering into relationships, others decide to bear children at a young age and then get into engagements later. Furthermore, there are those who leave their schooling to attend to work and then resume to their studies later in life. In current environments, the life period between the 20s has been transformed into a distinct segment of the life course on its own. To some extent, a debate has emerged as to whether this stage should be recognized as an important stage in the life course. Scholars concur that the stages in human life course tend to follow a pattern that corresponds to human neurological developments. However, the need to appreciate the age of 20s as a fundamental stage in human development has been necessitated by both economic and cultural dynamics.


The dawn of the early adulthood stage during the age of 20s closely resembles the dawning of the adolescent age as experienced about a century ago. The introduction of the adolescent age was precipitated by social and economic changes that necessitated a transition period between late childhood and early adulthood stages. In the prevailing social conditions at that time, this stage had to be accepted by the society, accommodated by social institutions, and even recognized by psychologists as a critical segment along the life course (Hutchison 2010). Ever since the recognition of adolescent phase, the acceleration of children into early adulthood has been happening in a smooth transition until the dynamic factors of the 21st century demanded an introduction of another critical phase. The 20s ought to be treated as another fundamental phase in the life course. The need for survival in the current social sphere, characterized by an information-centered economy calls for the establishment of an early adulthood phase to prepare the youth on their expected responsibilities as they enter into adulthood (Henig 2010).

It is important to look at every facet of the prevailing conditions that are necessitating the creation of another life stage between adolescence and early adulthood. It is plausible that the presence of fewer employment opportunities after school has necessitated the need for the young adults to stay longer under their parents watch as they wait for opportunities to open up in the competitive job market. Definitely, such factors must be put into consideration before allowing the youth some more time before they can take overall responsibility on their adult livelihoods. In such a case, the age of 20s cannot be set as a critical segment in life cycle just in order to accord the youth some more time of irresponsibility. It is high time that young people must be enlightened on what it means by to be independent and responsible Hutchison 2010).

In support of the positive effects of the 20s as a distinct stage in life, the youth are likely to become more focused than during any other stage in their lifetime. It is true that the young men and women are less certain about their future at this stage, but they are likely to remain more optimistic and prepared to embrace adulthood regardless of their economic and social backgrounds (Neyer & Asendorpf 2001). Thus, there is what one can define as a” sense of responsibilities” in the fact that the youth have not yet interfered with the realistic and idealistic visions of what lies ahead in their adult lives. The recognition and treatment of the 20s as a critical stage in life is essential as it heralds a point where young men and women can be allowed to strategize about their adult obligations without fearing any form of public censure concerning their performance. Only then can the rate of societal maturation get synchronized with the rate of brain maturation (Ideastream 2014).

In conclusion, it is plausible that the need to recognize the 20s as a critical stage in the life course has been necessitated by rapid changes in the current social-economic environment. Failure to protect and support the youth can lead them into a very dangerous path at a very critical moment in their lives. It is a moment that has great potential to determine the turn of events in all subsequent phases later in life. Any wrong decisions made at this age can have irreversible detrimental effects in the whole of adult life and even in their prime ages. It is important to set the age of 20s as a distinct stage in the life course. The establishment of the 20s as a critical stage should not be based merely on overprotective or over- supportive instincts towards the youth as such motives may delay the launching of the youth into self-dependent and responsible lives in later adulthood. Rather, setting the age of 20s as an important stage in life will allow the young adults adequate time to reflect on the best ways to shape their future as they prepare to take full control of their live.


Henig, R., (2010). What Is It About 20-Somethings? Retrieved 01 August 2014 from

Hutchison, E., (2010). Dimensions of Human Behavior: The Changing Life Course, Fourth Edition. New York: SAGE.

Ideastream, (2014). Failure to Launch. Retrieved 01 August 2014 from

Neyer, Foster & Asendorpf, James. “Personality relationship transaction in young adulthood.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 81 (2001): 1190–1204.


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You are here: Home Resources Samples Failure to Launch