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Marcia's Theory on Adolescent Identity Development

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Children’s identity is forming during the period of adolescence. The great role in the discovery of the theory of identity formation has played Marcia.

Mature identity, according to Marcia, is a matter of having strong, self-conscious, and self-chosen commitments in matters such as vocation, sexuality, religion and political ideology. Marcia suggested that entering adolescence individuals typically belong to one of four categories. The identity-diffused individual is someone who does not have any strong commitments, and is not looking for them. The foreclosed individual, by contrast, does have clear commitments. Those commitments have been internalized from parents and other argents of culture; they are not chosen and no alternatives have been seriously considered (Moshman, 2005, p. 83). Moratorium – is an individual, who has not yet resolved the struggle over identity, but is actively searching among alternatives in an attempt to arrive at a choice of identity. Identity achievement – an individual at this stage experienced a crisis but resolved it to be firmly committed to an occupation, an ideology and to social roles (Coleman, & Henry, 1999, p. 63).

Parenting styles influence adolescents’ identity development. Parents who follow an authoritative parenting style is characterized by parental involvement, support, communication, contribute towards development of the identity achievement and identity moratorium statuses. Parents who follow an authoritarian parenting style and control their adolescents’ behavior contribute towards the development of foreclosed identities. Parents who follow a permissive parenting style and do not provide much guidance contribute toward identity confusion in adolescents (Louw, 1998, p. 431).

Considering Marcia’s theory, it is necessary to offer adolescents an independence, communication, support and good examples of behavior to follow in order to cause positive effect on adolescent's identity development.

To sum up, Marcia’s theory describes the four important stages of development the adolescents’ identity. It creates great principles for parents who try to find the style of parenting which will have a positive effect on the development of their adolescents’ identity.

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