Parenting Lasts More Than 18 Years: Parenting Principles and Practices for Emerging-Adult Children


parenting, emerging adulthood, childhood, marriage


A look at the parenting section of a bookstore or library provides parents with shelves of books aimed at helping them parent infants, young children, and adolescents. Notably lacking are books on how to parent children who are 18 and older. Because 18- to 27-year-olds are no longer children but are still not quite adults, these young people are called “emerging adults.” The need to be heavily involved in the parenting of emerging adults is a relatively new phenomenon. In past decades, marriage, parenthood, and the beginning of careers tended to, on average, occur in the late teens or early twenties (Schlegel & Barry, 1991). [1] However, as the average age of marriage has risen (28 for males and 26 for females in the United States; U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 [2]), and the number of jobs available to those without higher education has decreased, more and more young people are single, living at home, and financially dependent on parents well into their twenties. As a result, compared to past generations, there is a greater need for many parents to remain engaged in the parenting process longer than previously expected.

Original Publication Citation

Nelson, L. J., & Padilla-Walker, L. M. (2014). Parenting lasts more than 18 years: Parenting principles and practices for emerging adult children. In B. L. Top & M. A. Goodman, By Divine Design (pp. 349-375). Provo, UT: BYU Studies.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Permanent URL


BYU Studies




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor