Facing Adulthood: Comparing the Criteria That Chinese Emerging Adults and Their Parents Have for Adulthood


emerging adulthood, criteria for adulthood, China, transition to adulthood, parents, college students


Past work in China has revealed that approximately 60% of young people in China consider themselves to be adults. However, no work, prior to this study, has been done examining either the views of Chinese parents regarding their children’s adult status or the criteria that Chinese parents use in determining whether or not their children have reached adulthood. Participants included 92 unmarried college students, ages 18 to 25, and at least one of their parents (83 fathers, 84 mothers). Results revealed that (a) the majority of children and their parents did not yet view their children as adults, and (b) there was disagreement between emerging adult children and their parents in the emphasis they placed on various criteria for adulthood. Discussion will focus on how the traditional Chinese notion of “face” may play an important role in the criteria young people and their parents endorse as necessary for adulthood.

Original Publication Citation

Nelson, L. J., Duan, X. X., Padilla-Walker, L. M., & *Luster, S. S. (2013). Facing adulthood: Comparing the criteria that Chinese emerging adults and their parents have for adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Research, 28, 189-208.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Adolescent Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor