Adolescent Identity Development Essay

Adolescent Identity Development Brandi Gibson COM/220 September 5, 2010 Nicole Hudson Self-structure is what defines the term, identity. Identity is made of what drives an individual, the abilities they have, what they believe, and their personal history (Marcia, 1980). Identity is one of the main struggles in an adolescents’ life. It is very important that children receive the proper guidance while entering their adolescence from their parents and peers.

Although they like to believe that they are capable of developing on their own, adolescents need parental guidance to develop their path of identity development. The relationship between a child and a parent plays an important role with an adolescent and his or her decisions about sex. Adolescents should establish a healthy (Chapman, Werner-Wilson 2008). Although sexual behavior is becoming an accepted act in the age of adolescence, parents should still talk to their children about the consequences of such actions.

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Parental involvement and positive youth development (PYD) will reflect on an adolescent’s decision on sexual behavior. However there are counter arguments to the parents being the only factor to adolescent identity development. According to James Marcia, identity development involves two steps. He hypothesizes that an adolescent must detach himself or herself from the way they were raised to believe by their parents as a child and develop their own beliefs and explore other ideas for their identity. Secondly, the adolescent must stick with that one particular way of thinking as they enter adulthood. pic] The above chart shows the amount of pregnancies in adolescent women per 1000 women each year. This chart was drawn together to show how positive youth development impacts an adolescent’s decision to be sexually active. Here, one can see that in the 1990s, either adolescents did not participate in activities as much, or they participated in activities that affected them negatively as they started their path into adulthood. Adolescents should stay focused and surround themselves with people who have a positive impact on their lives. A study done by Erin N.

Chapman, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University, and Ronald Jay Werner-Wilson, Department Chair of Kathryn Louise Chellgren, Endowed Professor for Research, University of Kentucky shows that parental involvement was the most influential in an adolescents attitude regarding sexual relationships (Chapman, Werner-Wilson 2008). The study also showed that the more involvement a parent has in his or her child’s life and also the adolescents involvement in school-based and non school-based activities can have a positive impact on their identity development.

A study done by Susan M. Kools, Ph. D RN, University of California, San Francisco, Department of Family Health Care Nursing has shown that adolescent identity development had a negative impact on children raised in foster care, reason being foster care is viewed as a diminished status on a child (Kools, 1997). Interviews were held with children who were a product of foster care to get their perceptions on that style of living. The study confirms that not only does foster care have a negative impact on identity; it also has a negative impact on self and interpersonal relationships.

One child interviewed in this study even admitted he was not “foster home material” because he was a troublemaker. He goes on to explain that his biological parents, or even his foster families did not want him, which caused him eventually to become a loner in the group home facility he was later placed in. Identity development can have such a negative impact on an adolescent that could eventually cause depression. Depression occurs within twenty percent of teens before they reach adulthood (Teen Depression, 2005).

Although it is common for every adolescent to experience some type of identity crisis, it is important that they develop a “coherent and enduring sense of self” (Demir, Demir, & Sonmez, 2010). The number one cause of suicide is depression. (Teen Depression, 2005). It is important that parents understand and help their teens seek help to cure this depression. There are many signs they can look for to determine whether their child may be experiencing depression. One sign a parent can look for is the size of their child’s social circle.

If a child’s social circle is smaller than others and they usually do not take advantage of opportunities to further his or her education. Depressed teens have a hard time holding a job or doing well in school. They also may struggle to hold a long-term relationship with their peers. Until recent years, being a part of a “minority group” was considered to have a negative impact on adolescent identity development. Teens often thought of themselves as misfits if they were different from what was considered normal.

A review written by Jean S. Phinney called Ethnic Identity in Adolescents and Adults predicts that by the middle of the 1990s, being part of a minority group will become less of an importance on adolescents (Phinney, 1990). In many observations over the past few years, it has been noticed that the more unique an adolescent is, the better off in society they become. Adolescents strive to find their individuality among their peers and peer pressure does not seem like as big of an issue today than what it used to be in the past.

Parents are also becoming more accepting of their children’s individuality and support his or her teens’ decisions. Whether it is the subject of sexuality, depression, or minority groups; adolescent identity is structured around their upbringing and the values they were taught by their parents, and the people they surround themselves with as they mature. As difficult as it may seem, it is important for parents to stay committed and involved in their adolescent’s life because the path they choose to take into adulthood reflects on care they were given by their parents. References

Basaran Demis, Hadiye Kaynak-Demis, Emel Irmak Sonmez (2010) The Turkish Journal of Pediatrics 2010. 52, 68-72. Retreived from http://www. turkishjournalpediatrics. org/pediatrics/pdf/pdf_TJP_735. pdf Chapman, Erin N. & Werner-Wilson, Ronald Jay (2008) Does Positive Youth Development Predict Adolescent Attitudes About Sexuality? 19,505. Retrieved from UOP Library website Identity Development – Aspects of Identity http://social. jrank. org/pages/322/Identity-Development. html Retrieved from Ads by Google Kools, Susan M. (1997) Adolescent Identity Development; Family Relations; Jul97, Vol. 6 Issue 3, 263-271. Retreived from UOP Library Website Marcia, James E. (1980) Identity in Adolescents. 5,109-137 Retrieved from http://www. psych. neu. edu/labs/ColvinWeb/psyu662/pdf/Marcia. pdf Phinney, Jean S. (1990) Ethnic Identity in Adolescents and Adults: Review & Research. Vol 108. No. 3. 499-514 Retrieved from http://research. pvfnet. com/PDFs/Ethnic%20Identity%20in%20Adolescents%20and%20Adults_Phinney_1990. pdf Teen Depression – Help for Troubled Teens (2005) http://www. teendepression. org/articles5. html. Retrieved for www. google. com


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