Clark University Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults: We had it tougher; their future looks bright

brightMost parents say their grown children have a better life than they did when they were young, but their current life satisfaction is surprisingly similar to their children’s, according to the new Clark University Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults.

The Clark University Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults (www.clarku.edu/clarkpoll/clark-university-poll-parents-emerging-adults.cfm) finds that 63% of parents of 18- to 29-year-olds agree that their grown children’s lives hold more opportunities than were available to them at the same age. Despite this, 82% of parents agree with the statement, “Overall, I am satisfied with my life” – nearly even with 83% of emerging adults who reported the same in last year’s Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults.

“Despite frequent claims that today’s emerging adults have worse prospects than their parents did, most parents see their kids as having a wider range of opportunities today,” concludes Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, the Clark University Research Professor of Psychology who directed the poll. “Both parents and emerging adults are hopeful that the kids have a bright future ahead.”

Other findings:

“I believe that, overall, my child’s life will be better than my life has been.”
69% – all parents
85% – African Americans
74% – Latinos
64% – Whites

The less education parents have, the more likely they are to “believe that, overall, my child’s life will be better than my life has been.”
77% – high school or less
68% – some college
64% – college degree

“My life will be better than my parents’ lives have been.”
77% – emerging adults

“This time of my life is fun and exciting.”
67% – parents
85% – emerging adults

“At this time of life, it still seems like anything’s possible.”
75% – parents
89% – emerging adults

Parents fare somewhat better in reports on stress and anxiety:
“This time of my life is stressful.”
72% – emerging adults
67% – parents

“This time of my life is full of uncertainty.”
65% – emerging adults
49% – parents

“I often feel anxious.”
56% – emerging adults
41% – parents

“I often feel depressed.”
33% – emerging adults
28% – parents

The 2013 Clark University Poll of Parents of Emerging Adults was developed by Arnett, who coined the term “emerging adulthood.” He recently co-authored (with Elisabeth Fishel) “When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up: Loving and Understanding Your Emerging Adult” (Workman; May 2013). The book offers insights into how parents and their emerging adult children can navigate this stage in their relationship/development.

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, MA, Clark University (www.clarku.edu) is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale.

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