Independence is the most critical
stage of the
family life cycle. As you enter young adulthood, you
begin to separate emotionally from your family. During this stage, you strive
to become fully able to support yourself emotionally, physically, socially, and
financially. You begin to develop unique qualities and characteristics that
define your individual identity.
Intimacy is a vital skill to
develop during your independent, young adult years. Intimacy is the ability to
develop and maintain close relationships that can endure hard times and other
challenges. In an intimate relationship, you learn about:
- Commonality or
on another person who is not in your family.
- Shared emotion in a
You also learn who you are outside of your identity within
your family. Your ability to develop an intimate relationship depends on how
successful you were at developing your individual identity earlier in
If you are a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered person (LGBT), this stage may include making your sexual orientation known, or "coming out" to your family and friends.
Exploring interests and career goals is part of developing
independence. To live successfully away from your family, you must develop
financial and emotional independence.
You also begin to be
responsible for your own health in this stage. You become responsible for your
nutritional, physical, and medical needs. Developing healthy habits at this
time—such as good nutrition, regular exercise, and safer sex practices—is
important for lifelong good health and happiness.
You learn new
aspects of independence throughout your lifetime. Even when you have moved on
to another stage of life, such as coupling, you continue to learn independence
within the context of that stage.
During the independence stage,
you hope to:
- Learn to see yourself as a separate person in
relation to your original family—parents, siblings, and extended family
- Develop intimate peer relationships outside the
- Establish yourself in your work or career.
Other important qualities you develop during this phase
- Work ethic.
- Identity, or who you are in the