I recently read Becoming Adult: How Teenagers Prepare for the World of Work by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I was interested in this book because I was curious about what it had to say about how teens prepare for adulthood. Being in the business of helping teens make the transition into adulthood, this was an interesting study. I was not sure what to expect from the book. Becoming Adult is a study and focused on the research from the author and others.
The book starts by explaining the research methods. It quickly moves from methods to showing the correlation of upbringing and a person’s attitude of work. Becoming Adult takes many factors and deals with them quite well. Growing up, going to school, GPA, test, grades, parents, etc… all effect how a person transitions into adulthood and working life.
There were several things that surprised me. The best indicator of whether ANY teen will obtain any post-secondary education (i.e. education after high school) is GPA. So, while a 4.0 is not required to go to college the higher the GPA the better the chances of attending university, community college, or vocational training. While GPA was the best indicator of post-secondary education, it had little influence on those who went to the most prestigious 4 year universities. Parent’s education and other home environmental factors are the largest influences on who goes to the highest quality schools.
I was not surprised that high-support & high-expectation family environments produced the most motivated and successful adults. A high-support only or high-expectation only also consistently produced successful adults but in different ways. Another “duh” discovery was that parent’s attitude toward work and education largely dictated the teen’s attitude toward those things. My friend Josh wrote a blog about how parent’s can even create a negative attitude that induces adolescence to be worse than it has to be.
What are you doing to help your child to become an adult? Are your attitudes toward work and post-secondary education supportive or negative? Are you letting your teen “practice” being an adult now? Or do you expect them to magically know how to be an adult the day they graduate from high school or college? It is a question I have to ask myself now as my oldest is turning 11 years old soon.