Challenges of being an Adult

By ACS Distance Education on November 26, 2022 in Psychology | comments
Adulthood is the time when most of us encounter death for the first time, marriage, divorce, second families, or career changes. Adjusting to change is a necessary part of being a healthy and well adjusted adult. For some that is more difficult than others, and sometimes adults need as much help as anyone younger.


Parenting may or may not form part of adulthood.  Those that have children often report improved relationships once the children leave home provided that they remain in contact with the children.  Those that do not have children tend to spend more time involved in companionate activities.

Most parents sincerely believe that their responsibility is to raise their children, to take an active part in guiding them on their way to becoming mature adults. This role may be an easy or difficult job. The parent-child relationship can involve a serious, in-built level of  interpersonal manipulation.

Single parenting
In many cases, people are single parents because it is their best or only option. As adolescents we thought we would all live happily ever after with our mate.  In today’s world this is not necessarily true.  Single parenting is a relatively new way of being a family that wasn’t common 40 years ago.  Despite what you hear in the media, single parenting is not all bad news. If the parents can sort out the difficult issues of money, childcare, and their interpersonal relationship - single parenting can be a joy. You can gain an increased closeness with your child, plus the increased sense of control or the opportunity to parent from your own vision.   


Holmes and Rahe (1967) drew up a chart of the most stressful life events giving each a score from zero to 100, with marriage being assigned an arbitrary value of 50.  Divorce was number two on the list with a score of 73 following death of marriage partner at 100.  It was suggested that a high score (200-300) in one year could lead to physical problems the following year.  

Marriages (or more accurately, marital relationships) that are untenable or merely less desirable than conceivable alternatives can and do exist in societies in which there is little or no legal divorce. What constitutes a viable marriage (a marriage that two persons both continue to believe to be better than available alternatives) will in turn depend upon married individuals' expectations of marriage and what they insist on getting from marriage, versus the other options. People make choices to get married, stay married or become divorced based upon what they believe are the rewards or punishments for making other choices.  


Depression is a stage of grief and bereavement and often returns at anniversaries and special occasions such as Christmas. Other reasons for the onset of depression include a negative self re-evaluation in mid-life, the realisation that some of one’s life goals are not going to be met, divorce or redundancy.


Couples tend to take more care of their health than single adults do.  They get drunk less often, smoke less, seek help more, exercise more and are generally more health conscious.

An adult individual needs to balance energy intake with his or her physical activity levels to avoid storing excess body fat. Dietary practices and food choices are related to wellness and affect health, fitness, weight management, and the prevention of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

It is very important to reduce energy intake at the onset of adulthood, and to make sure that all  nutritional needs are met. This can be accomplished by ensuring that an adequate amount of energy is consumed (this will vary by body weight, degree of physical fitness, and muscle vs. body fat), and that this amount of energy is adjusted to the person’s physical activity levels. Foods that are chosen to provide the energy must be highly nutritious, containing high amounts of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and essential proteins.

For adults (ages 18-50), weight management is a key factor in achieving health and wellness.  


According to Erikson, the internal battlefield between intimacy and isolation is most influential during a person’s early twenties. At this time, each person is trying to work out how much time they want to spend with others and what types of relationships they prefer – to keep themselves happy and satisfied. People may be at different positions across a continuum – not everyone wants to party every night and have a constant stream of friends in their homes. The balance between intimacy and isolation is usually resolved in later adulthood. The individual who resolves this conflict will go on to develop positive open relationships (despite setbacks) rather than retreat into isolation.


Leading research from around the world has concluded that 70% to 90% of adults visit primary care physicians for stress-related problems.  Stressful life events include moving home, coping with illness, bereavement and retirement. While there is a link between stress and illness, stressful life events do not always cause physical illness. Individuals with good psychological coping mechanisms and/or exercise routines cope better when faced with stressful life events.  

Alternative lifestyles are sometimes thought be an expression of social rebellion. However, some psychologists suggest that alternative lifestyles are not rebellious in nature but only serve to help the individual find balance, social or personal identity. 


Living longer means that most people now lead three lives: first as children, second as adults with careers and most likely as parents, and third as retirees and potentially grandparents. During each of these lives we continually discover and learn new things. We find sides of ourselves that we did not know existed.

Our third life is a time for discovering new talents and creative possibilities in our inner worlds. It is a time for applying the wisdom of the ages to ourselves. It is a time for discovering the full meaning of life and for preparing for the future, whatever that may be.  Being a grandparent means different things. Although grandparenting is not the dominant aspect of most of our lives, it is an aspect that is more important than most of us realize.

If you would like to learn more about the different stages of adulthood, or learn coping strategies for managing aspects of those stages, try one of these courses:

  • Advanced certificate in coaching
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  • Certificate in counselling
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  • Child and adolescent mental health
  • Conflict management
  • Counselling children
  • Counselling skills
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  • Emotional intelligence
  • Family counselling
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  • Life coaching
  • Managing mental health in adults

    Or contact our course counselling team for further information