This study examines the experience of emerging adult immigrants, a group simultaneously attempting to navigate the developmental period of exploration and experimentation of emerging adulthood, together with the need for re-organization of the self, following immigration. In this study, in-depth interviews were conducted, with 41 emerging adult immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel and 42 non-immigrant Israeli emerging adults (all in the age group 21-25), on the subjects of sense of self, family relations, and age-appropriate tasks of emerging adulthood. Results showed that while immigrant emerging adults had a more disorganized sense of self, they also showed higher levels of both autonomy and relatedness in the relationship with their parents. Immigrant emerging adults had fewer social networks, yet more intimate relationships. Emerging adult immigrants' story was one of "relatedness" where level of self-organization was related to closeness, caring, and identification with parents, and closeness in both social and intimate relationships. In contrast, the non-immigrant emerging adults told about a process of "autonomy seeking" where a consolidated sense of self was related to more independent decision-making, emotional independence, and assertiveness in the relationship with parents. The findings of this study point to the complex and unique process that emerging adult immigrants undergo while coping with developmental tasks in their new environment.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to thank the Hadassah International Research Institute at Brandeis University for the grant awarded for this project. This article is part of a research project carried out in the framework of the first author’s doctoral research at Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gam, Israel, approved in April 2005.
- Emerging adults
- Sense of self