An examination of young adults as they separate from their parents: A six-factor approach

Stanley Curtis Takagishi, Fordham University


During adolescence, individuals experience changes within themselves and within their relationships with other people. Two of the relationships that change dramatically are the relationships with one's mother and father. Theorists (e.g., Blos and Erikson) have identified various tasks for individuals to complete during adolescence, and the completion of each task results in the person being viewed as more separate from his or her parents. However, it is now believed that only during late adolescence are individuals attempting the tasks associated with adolescence. Therefore, to study individuals separating from their parents the focus must be on late adolescence or young adulthood, between 18 and 21 years of age. Because many young adults are attending college during this time, the college years have become a critical developmental period. A model of the forces which influence the separation experience would improve our understanding of this process. The factors emphasized repeatedly by researchers and clinicians as affecting young adults are their intrapersonal and interpersonal differentiation, functional autonomy, behavioral boundaries, commitments to other entities, and financial independence. The purpose of this study was to examine how important these factors are in determining the well-being and psychological functioning of young adults as they separate from their mother and father. A sample of 167 young adults currently enrolled in college was examined. The results indicated that the six factors, when considered as a group, significantly affect the well-being and psychological functioning of young adults. This suggests that young adults having problems separating from their parents would benefit from an assessment of the presented six factors. Clinicians treating college students could use the six-factor model during therapy to improve their separation experiences. In addition, the specific factors of intrapersonal differentiation and commitments to other entities have significant influences upon young adults during the separation process. By advancing one's intrapersonal differentiation, general improvements within the person may occur; however, individuals making commitments to other entities will see improvements in the positive aspects of their outlook toward life but little reduction in their negative life experiences. Improvements in the six-factor model are suggested and directions for future research are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Takagishi, Stanley Curtis, "An examination of young adults as they separate from their parents: A six-factor approach" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9926916.