Young People Feel Unprepared for Adulthood

CC BY 2.0. Garry Knight

More than half of young adults surveyed by the UK's Health Foundation say they lack the basic 'building blocks of life'.

The Health Foundation in the UK has identified four fundamental 'building blocks of life' that help young people to achieve success in adulthood. Armed with these, the Foundation reasons, a young person is well-equipped to navigate the adult world. These building blocks are:

- Emotional support in the form of parents, friends, and mentors
- Having the appropriate skills and education to pursue a career
- Personal connections and networking opportunities
- Financial and practical support

It all sounds wonderfully helpful, but unfortunately this recipe for success is not always reflected in reality. A poll by the Foundation, which is part of a bigger two-year study into the topic, found that "fewer than one in five (16 percent) young people felt they had access to all assets growing up, despite more than two thirds (68 percent) recognising they were all important."

The results of the poll, which surveyed 2,000 British young people between the ages of 12 and 24, were troubling. Only 49 percent of young people said they had emotional support while growing up; a mere 47 percent felt they had adequate education to pursue a career; financial and practical support was measured at 46 percent; and a paltry 31 percent said they had good personal connections.

These findings paint a dismal picture for new adults, suggesting that Millennials and Gen Y'rs could be less healthy, happy, and settled in their lives than their parents were at the same age. From the report:

"The gains made as a society in improving the health of previous generations may well be eroded by the precariousness and instability of the lives some young people are facing. Young people enter middle age without the fundamentals needed for a healthy life."

The lack of these building blocks results in higher unemployment, which can lead to more unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and drinking. Morag Henderson, a sociologist at University College London who was not involved in the study, told CNN:

"Young adults are facing more stressful conditions than older generations, such as an increasingly competitive labor market, rising costs of housing, an increase in higher education costs, and issues of self-identity and confidence driven by more widespread use of social media."

The role of parents is more important than ever. It is too late for Millennials and Gen Y'ers to redo their childhoods and gain the support they needed, but parents of young children can learn from this feedback and apply it to their own parenting. Especially in light of the research coming out about helicopter parenting and how damaging it is to kids' emotional and social development, it is more important than ever to know when to stand back and how to teach resilience, confidence, and social skills in a digital era.