How Culture Influences Adult Development
Non-Western cultures are sometimes characterized by speedier or earlier adulthood development where transitioning adults are required to adult more quickly and take up more adult roles. Among the Chinese, for example, joining college is an indication of adulthood development and college students are expected to start thinking and acting like adults (Nelson, Badger, & Wu, 2014). The same applies to East African communities where joining college is likened to being granted freedom to make decisions as an adult. Culture also influences adulthood by dictating the criteria to be used to determine whether or deemed necessary for an individual is an adult, the kind of behaviour that developing or emerging adults, as well as issues related to an emerging adult’s identity (Nelson, Badger, & Wu, 2014).
Adulthood Transition in Traditional Maasai Culture
The Maasai are an East African native community spread between Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania. This community is known for having preserved its traditional/cultural practices especially those signalling initiation into adulthood for both boys and girls, marriage, child bearing, child naming, becoming a community warrior etc. in terms of adulthood transition, practices are different for boys and girls. Boys are first taken through a pre-circumcision practice/ritual called Enkipaata. This involves young teenage boys (14-16 years) moving across their vast communities announcing and recruiting for their new age-set. Elders, and sometimes established warriors accompany and guide the boys through this ritual. Before they set out for this important practice, the boys are required to sleep in the forest and at dawn, they wake, dress in loose shukas and dance all day. At the end of the day, they are prime for circumcision (emuratare) which is the most important ritual. Both boys and girls in the Maasai community are required to undergo circumcision as it is the ultimate indication of transition into adulthood and the mark that one is “ripe” for marriage (Ginsberg, Kariuki, & Kimamo, 2014). However, in modern Kenya and Tanzania, this practice among girls has been outlawed as female genital mutilation. However, for boys, the practice is legal and signals not only adulthood but is a requirement to become a warrior. As a result, boys are required to prove that they are deserving of circumcision either by carrying a spear or by herding large herds of cattle for seven days. The eight day is the day of victory and of circumcision. The boy becomes an adult member of the community and can form or join a warrior camp (Maasai Association, n.d).
Influence of Gender in Adult Development in a White Middle-Class Family
A study by (Marks, LC, & McHale, 2019) on family patterns in white middle class families indicate that a majority of them display egalitarian qualities in terms of gender roles. This can be two ways: either both parents and children are egalitarian or parents are traditional but children are egalitarian. As a result, both boys and girls transitioning in adulthood have no gender specific roles. Both can do the dishes, make dinner, vacuum the house or do laundry (Marks, LC, & McHale, 2019). This is unlike other demographics where such roles are more feminine. However, the basement and the garage are seen as more masculine dens left for the boys to take up as they transition to adulthood. The research also found that men retained their traditional values with regard to gender as compared to women and perpetuated these into their marriages. The authors attributed this concept to male privilege and dominance inherent the American society. However, “coupling up” or marrying tended to change these attitudes where a man marries a culturally diverse woman, that is, one who does not subscribe to traditional gender roles (Marks, LC, & McHale, 2019).
Influence of Gender and Religious Beliefs on Adult Health/Illness during Situational Crisis
For this part, attention is given to mid-life crisis which occurs in both men and women but is more prevalent and takes more evident forms in men (Lachman, 2015). Studies have shown that for women, in most cases, mid-life transitions where adults realise they are no longer on the receiving but on the giving end of responsibility, care and mentorship, involve more calamity for men than for women. In this case, men tend to go into depressive or maniac episodes as some women do as well, but majority of them tend to obsess over their children and parents and their caregiving roles. Men also tend to feel trapped and therefore demonstrate tendencies of people wanting to break free. As a result, they engage in activities that are more associated with the independence of young adults. During these often tumultuous period, mid-life adults tend to lean on religion for coping. Seeking help is a common concept during mid-life crisis where adults go to spiritual healers and other spiritual leaders for guidance and advice as well as for consolation and comfort. A study by on mid-life crisis among Malaysian women showed that spiritual and faith-based interventions was among the top interventions during midlife crisis (Wong, Jani, & Halimah, 2017).
Ginsberg, P., Kariuki, P., & Kimamo, C. (2014). The Changing Concept of Adolescence in Kenya: Three Generations Speak. Psychological Thought, 7(1), 89-98. Retrieved May 30, 2020, from https://psyct.psychopen.eu/article/view/97/html
Lachman, M. (2015). Mind the Gap in the Middle: A Call to Study Midlife. Research in Human Development, 12(3-4), 327-334. Retrieved May 30, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4734389/
Maasai Association. (n.d). Maasai Ceremonies and Rituals. Retrieved May 30, 2020, from A Maasai Association Website: http://www.maasai-association.org/ceremonies.html
Marks, J., LC, B., & McHale, S. (2019). Family Patterns of Gender Role Attitudes. Sex Roles, 61(3-4), 221–234. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3270818/
Nelson, L., Badger, S., & Wu, B. (2014). The influence of culture in emerging adulthood: Perspectives of Chinese college students. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 8(1), 26-36.
Wong, L., Jani, R., & Halimah, A. (2017). Midlife Crisis Perceptions, Experiences, Help-Seeking, and Needs Among Multi-Ethnic Malaysian Women. Women & Health, 52(8), 804-819.
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How Culture Influences Adult Development