Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Phases of Identity in Adolescence



Adolescence can be a time of much confusion and frustrations. A lot of this centers around the formation of one's identity. It is in adolescence when our kids really start trying to figure out who they are across a variety of contexts such as career choice, religion and politics. As parents it is important for us to be aware of these changes and foster an environment in which our kids feel comfortable coming to us as they work on developing their own identity. Some theorists have identified four phases that adolescents can go through when developing their identity, they are as follows:
  • Diffusion: Incomplete sense of self, not making much attempt at identity formation
  • Foreclosure: No experimentation, prematurely decide upon identity, often determined by others (for example, parents)
  • Moratorium: Trying on possible selves (for example, dressing in a different style every week), importance of situation and environment
  • Achievement: Sense of well-being, committed to future and values
It is possible that our adolescents will go through all of these stages or just some of the stages. The goal as parents is for our kids to all eventually reach achievement and know who they are. The challenge then becomes how do we provide a safe environment for our adolescents to explore and work to develop their own identity?

What are your thoughts about this? What do you think about these phases of identity?

References: Marcia (1980, 1991); Dr. Sarah Coyne SFL 333 Class Lecture at BYU

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