Attainment of Adulthood

In the Caribbean, rites of passage indicating the transition from boyhood to manhood include engaging in heterosexual sex, and fathering and providing financially for one's own children. The transition from girlhood to womanhood is marked by rites such as reaching menarche and giving birth to one's own child. Caribbean men gain status and respect, and are considered adults, when they can provide for their families (Leo-Rhynie, 1997, p. 35). Young women gain status in their communities when they assume motherhood (Leo-Rhynie, 1997, p. 34).

Because education is so highly valued by West Indian parents, because American youth tend to go to college at higher rates than Caribbean youth, and because of the social stigma attached to adolescent motherhood, West Indian American youth undergo transition to adulthood much later than they would have had they been brought up in the Caribbean. Like their American peers, their adulthood rites of passage include getting their first job after college, marrying, and having their own children. Similar to their Caribbean-reared and American-born peers, certain biological changes (such as menarche) and religious rites of passage (such as the First Communion for Catholics) may be accompanied by parents and other adults telling youth that they are now considered men and women. Still, such rites remain largely symbolic in light of the prolonged period of parental monetary support experienced by youth in America.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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