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Late Adolescence

Late adolescence (approximately age 17 to 21 years) is the last phase of adolescent struggle for autonomy and should end with clear identity development and emancipation from the family unit. This is generally a phase of increased integration and acceptance with parental values, while setting aloft to create pathways for emerging young adulthood. If all the previous phases and tasks have been appropriately handled, adolescents are now appreciative of their parents and families and become separate entities while still embracing parental advice.


Late adolescence is characterized by a firmer sense of identity, realistic and firmer interests and an increased ability to compromise and delay gratification. The value of peer groups to the individual decreases as a stronger sense of self and identity is established and an overall sense of perspective is developed. In the Caribbean, the concept of young adulthood and cultural expectations continue to evolve. With changes in higher academic expectations, employment opportunity the boundary between late adolescence and emerging young adulthood has become quite blurred.


While in some contexts young people will continue to reside and be primarily cared for by parents well into their mid-twenties, in others, late adolescents become parents, sole providers and have to navigate rigorous working conditions. This stage of development is often culturally lost, as expectations of young people who have attained the age of legal adulthood may not align with their overall developmental capacities. This is why it is critical for parents to recognize that adolescent development is dynamic and individual. The capabilities and expectations for each young person must be in alignment.

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