Changes in Adolescents' Interpersonal Experiences: Are They Being Prepared for Adult Relationships in the Twenty-First Century?



Trends across nations suggest that adulthood in the future will require greater social versatility, including abilities to function in relationships that are less scripted by community norms and that bridge multiple social worlds. This article assesses whether current changes in adolescents' interpersonal experience are likely to give them the social resources and competencies they will need. Changes in families are making them smaller, more diverse in social capital, and more responsive to adolescents. Changes in adolescents' nonfamily experience include more time in institutional settings; more involvement with peers; and more cycles of developing (and ending) relationships with a heterogeneous set of adults, friends, and, for many, romantic partners. The analysis suggests that these changes will provide many youth with greater opportunities to develop the more versatile interpersonal resources required in the future, but that many adolescents will have restricted opportunities to acquire these resources.