We used to think that people were ‘done cooking’ at 18 years old. Since they were adults, they ‘must’ be completely developed. In recent years we have come to understand that the brain is still in development until our mid-20s. Also, since our society has become more complicated, we have extended our concept of adolescence until well into the twenties.
However, have you ever thought about your parents, for example? Are they fully developed? Many theories of developmental psychology hold that we all are ‘in development.’ What it means to be a person who is 25 years old is very different from what it means to be a person at 40 or 50 years old.
In a family, for example, everyone – parents or guardians, children, grandparents, etc are all changing with new situations. Let’s say you are a high school senior, you are going off to college, and you are the youngest sibling. Not only is this a huge accomplishment for you, but this has meaning for your parents or guardians (and all of the family members). Now, for example, your moms are alone in the house. Perhaps they have not been alone as a couple for nearly 20 years. The fact of your no longer being a ‘high school kid’ signals also that each parent no longer has a young child. What does this mean for each of them? How do they restructure their time now that there are no children in the home? Just as graduating has meaning for you, so does it for every member of your family. We are all growing and changing with new ages, new developmental milestones or developmental tasks.