Psychologists have recently identified a new developmental period called emerging adulthood in which individuals (also called Millennials), typically between ages 18 and 25, are no longer fully dependent but are not yet fully independent, financially or otherwise. Emerging adulthood is characterized by self-exploration, experimentation and promise.

A major difference in the Millennial group (compared to their predecessors) is that their parents typically have nurtured and protected them, providing for the majority of their emotional, educational and physical needs and wants. Parents have praised and rewarded their children for minimal effort and have increased the expectations of school and community in educating, entertaining and protecting their children. As a result, these emerging adults have high expectations of recognition and reward from others with minimal effort on their part.

Millennials frequently have close ties with their parents, often continuing to live with them and to be supported by them as they enter the workforce. As young adults entering the workplace, they look to managers and supervisors to provide the same nurturing protection, advice and approval as their parents have provided.

This later transitional period of emerging adulthood extends the dependence/independence issues between the millennial and his family, especially in terms of financial independence. Differing perspectives and conflicts between parents and their emerging adult can be related to the individual’s expression of independence in clothing, attitudes, behavior and leisure time activities, which may be at odds with parental rules and expectations.

Communication between parents and their emerging-adult children can be difficult as all are attempting to navigate the new closeness/distance in the relationship. During this time, many young adults rely on their parents for economic assistance and to make up for the financial difference between earned income and expenses. Resentment must be addressed in many of these relationships as the parents struggle with financially supporting an adult child who is making different lifestyle decisions than the parents would make. Addressing these issues therapeutically can lead to enhanced relationships in which parental boundaries are respected while the emerging adult continues to experiment, transform and to define themselves as independent adults.

Dr. Marla Reis is a licensed Fort Lauderdale Psychologist who has been providing therapy for more than 20 years.