Role Transitional Difficulties
In many societies .there are role transitions especially, in ascribed age roles-which are structured in such a way as to be inevitably difficult. This is because of discontinuities in role preparation-because the learning experiences of one age status do not provide the attitudes and values needed to fill the next role one is expected to assume. In most primitive societies the adolescent
period is not marked by any unusual stress. At any given age in most primitive societies individuals have a clearly defined status and role; they, and everyone else, know exactly .what their duties and privileges are. Our society has ao clearly defined age statuses, except for the relatively minor legal maturity at 21, which adding still greater confusion, is now sometimes only 18. Our American youth and their parents- have no standardized set of duties and privileges to guide them. Parents are uncertain about just how much "maturity" to concede to teenagers, and they bicker endlessly about, their choice of companions, the hours they keep, their use of money, the use of the car, and how much adult freedom they should have. Coleman, a distinguished educational sociologist, suggests that in American society, prolonged schooling tends to isolate youth from adults and to shift socialization to the peer group this he believes perpetuates the irresponsibility of childhood and fails to prepare youth for adult roles [Coleman, 1974]
Among the Plains Indians warriors were trained from childhood to be aggressive, hostile, and uncompromising upon moving from warrior to "old man" status, they were expected to be placid peacemakers. This called for an abrupt reversal in personality, and few could make the transition gracefully. An equally painful transition is demanded in our society. To be successful in the active 'adult role, one must develop independence and self-reliance, must learn to find satisfaction irr useful work
and in being adviser and protector of the young. As an aged person, one is expected to become dependent and submissive, able to respect oneself with no useful work to do, and must learn to keep advice to oneself while being ignored or patronized by the young. Is it any wonder that some old people sicken and die soon after retirement, while many others become bored and fretful? The rapidly developing field of geriatrics indicates a serious concern with this problem. But as long as youth suggests activity, adventure, and romance, while age symbolizes uselessness and irrelevance, growing old will Continue to be a painful experience [George, 1'980].