14 Challenges of Emerging Adults

leadership life skills parenting
14 Challenges of Emerging Adults — Carolyn Mahboubi Life and Leadership Coaching

Most professional Coaches will tell their clients what to think.

The truth is we need to learn how to think.

I’m an expert in helping emerging adults integrate their emotions, core values and actions in service of their life goals. Teaching them how to think is the skill and mindset shift that leads to the transformation they (and their parents) desire.

They don’t need me (or you) to tell them what to think because they have inherited a world so wildly different from ours that we’d be at best, deluded, and at worst, harmful if we force them to follow our advice.

My young adult clients sometimes jokingly say,

“I wish you were my mom.”

My own kids prefer to hang out with their moms and are more open to their advice than to mine.

You know why?

Because it’s impossible to coach your own kids! We can model for them the actions we advise and that’s exceptionally powerful, but we cannot coach them.

Trust me, I’ve tried. But all it takes to revert to advising and ordering my own kids is the triggering of one or more of my fears for my children.

The list is long but there are two that top every parent's list of fears for their children...

  • Fearing for their physical, emotional and mental well-being and safety — closely followed by our fear that...
  • They won’t be “successful” as adults.

Always and in any circumstance, change has to begin with ourselves and I certainly help my clients do that work.

And somewhere along this professional journey, I began to work with their children as well.


I love this demographic and have learned — and continue to learn more from them than I ever imagined!

Working with emerging adults has made me a better person and parent. But also, it’s just so satisfying to help people who have their whole lives ahead of them, learn how to think in ways that allows them to live with more ease, joy and success.

If I had done this work of self growth and mastering mental performance when I was in my twenties — some of my clients are doing it in their late teens — I would have saved myself a great deal of mental, emotional, and finally, physical hardship.

Yes, it’s never too late. But in this case, we are better off the earlier we realize there is not only the outer space we are taught to focus on, but also a deep, essential and critical inner space that holds the key to life satisfaction.



Earlier is better.

Here’s a partial list of 14 fears and challenges my young adult clients struggle with:

  1. They’ve been to therapy and have a deep level of awareness of their past, yet they are not engaging with life in the present.
  2. They feel “stuck” even though they’ve been to the best schools and their parents have supported every dream, desire and talent they ever wanted to explore.
  3. They are legitimately terrified of “adulting” and come up with stories about why it’s the world’s fault, not theirs.
  4. They believe they should be happy all the time and that something has gone terribly wrong if they’re sometimes unhappy or anxious.
  5. They grew up hearing (from Elon Musk if not from their parents) the adage, “Go big or go home.” So they stay home.
  6. They’re looking (and looking and looking…) for their passion and their purpose.
  7. After all the money their parents have spent on great schools, tutors and after school programs, they are still missing critical skill sets like communication, boundary setting, time management and negotiation.
  8. They don’t understand finances and how to earn, spend, save, invest and donate money.
  9. They are seen by adults as spoiled and complacent but the truth is they don’t see the world the way we do and they don't see the point of following the herd.
  10. They are anti so many things but have no antidote for them.
  11. Their attention span that was hijacked from them when they were too young to remember, needs to be cultivated and they don’t know where to begin.
  12. They think life is short and convince themselves to live for today but have a gnawing feeling that life is actually long and are scared shitless that they don’t have what it takes to be successful in the long run.
  13. Their parents sheltered them from every possible negative outcome for 18 years and now expect them to be resilient, gritty, resourceful and skilled. HOW???
  14. Their parents tell me their children lack confidence. I know for sure that it’s not confidence they lack — it’s courage.

And courage is a muscle that can be developed.

But only through action — not just talk — and that’s why working with the right professional coach can be life altering for an emerging adult.

If you are the parent of an emerging adult who is experiencing any or all of these challenges, reach out. We should talk.

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