Seven transitions into adulthood. . . and have a YOYO dinner

Seven transitions into adulthood. . . and have a YOYO dinner

After a very positive response to her talk last April, the Lab Parents' Association again invited Dr. Lisa Damour to host a talk and Q&A session with Lab parents.

"Damour's insights help parents feel less alone in what they are dealing with with their children, which is no small thing in the modern world and especially during the pandemic," says [arent Amanda Norton who helped organize Dr. Damour's Lab virtual visits. "Her approaches to situations so many parents face are spot on yet also feel fresh and illuminating. She pushes parents to find joy in all their children's developments and offers strategies for supporting them every step of the way, even when teenagers' behaviors feel unfamiliar to parents or make adults bristle a bit."

She explained that even though she focussed her most recent book on girls—Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood—that the transitions applies to all young people. She explained that as a parent she wanted a book about the "normal stresses and strains of adolescence." That type of book was not that available. So she wrote one. Her seven "developmental tasks" that a child must master on the way to adulthood roughly correlate to certain grade levels.

The seven transitions into adulthood

  • Parting with childhood, grades 5–6
  • Joining a new pack, grades 6–7
  • Harnessing emotion, grades 7–8
  • Contending with adult authority, grades 8–9
  • Planning for the future, grades 9–10
  • Entering the romantic worlds, which can happen along a wide continuum (think from grade 5 crushes to graduate school)
  • Caring for themselves, grade 12

Of course, she notes, the transitions can be fluid. That's why you might suddenly be getting hugs from your teen who then does not talk to you for days! Quite relevant during the pandemic and remote learning, Damour spent time addressing the difference between healthy and unhealthy stress and anxiety. ("Managing normal stress is like weightlifting," she says. "You do want to work to your edge but then rest! Make sure they do have time to rest. They need time for recovery. Focus less on the cause and help them make time to recover.")

Her parting advice during the pandemic? "Everybody gets to have space! Normalize the YOYO dinner—You are On Your Own—everyone fends for themselves. Everyone loves it and it is good for teens."

Damour is a best-selling author, writes the monthly Adolescence column for the New York Times, serves as a regular contributor to CBS News, maintains a private practice, and consults and speaks internationally, is a Senior Advisor to the Schubert Center for Child Studies at Case Western Reserve University, and serves as the Executive Director of Laurel School's Center for Research on Girls.