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Socialization through the Lifespan

Jacalyn McCarthy

Lehigh Carbon Community College


In the everlasting debate between nature versus nurture, it is questioned how much of a

personality is due to the events that an individual experienced. I believe that socialization

throughout my lifespan has definitely altered my personality and made me into the person I am

today. From childhood to adolescence and into emerging adulthood, the things I did, people I

knew, and places I went shaped my life. In particular, family, school, peers, and workplace

socialization agents were the ones that I believe had the largest impact in my life.

Starting at birth, socialization affects even the smallest of children. According to the

University of Michigan, “childhood (including infancy) certainly remains the most important

stage of most people’s lives for socialization and for the cognitive, emotional, and physiological

development that is so crucial during the early years of anyone’s life” (Sociology: Understanding

and Changing the Social World 2016). In my childhood stage, family, school, and peers were the

main agents of socialization that I encountered. In my family socialization, my family taught me

my skills, my manners, and how to behave. I was read to every single day, multiple times, which

taught me to read at a young age and installed my passion in reading. My family life also

socialized me in ways that were not so apparent. I grew up in a white family in the suburbs. We

were lower middle class, but we were for the most part keeping our heads above water. This

aspect of my childhood subconsciously taught me about privilege, finances, and pride. My

parents did not like people knowing what we had to do to afford all our bills, whether it be

payment plans, coupon clipping, or repairing everything we had for as long as we could. Because

of my lower middle class upbringing, I was taught frugality and the importance of hard work.

School was another major socialization factor for me. There are so many underlying lessons

taught to children in school that have nothing to do with reading or arithmetic. Children learn

more about manners and behaviors in school. Children who misbehave get punished and

reprimanded and children who act well get rewarded. I remember fearing infractions during

elementary school and trying my best avoid getting any kind of attention or trouble. I learned

about gender roles in my childhood from school. According to the Encyclopedia on Early

Childhood Development, “Teachers present curricular materials that contain gender stereotypic

behavior, and peers exhibit gender stereotypic attitudes and behavior” (The Role of Schools in

the Early Socialization of Gender Differences). Even just the difference between boys and girls

on the playground during recess taught me gender roles. Peers also socialized me in later

childhood. I had many diverse friends growing up, and they introduced me to many things that

were not present in my earlier childhood. Friends who were adopted, friends who had

homosexual parents, friends whose parents did not speak English, and others were changing my

view of the world. Being introduced to these things so early in my development made me more

knowledgeable and tolerant down the road.

Eventually I hit adolescence and even more socialization changed me to become the

person I am today. My family was still socializing me at this point. My grandparents died during

this stage of my life which introduced me to death for the first time. My younger cousin was also

born during this period of my life which introduced me to birth. School was also socializing me

at this time. I was learning more and more, and realizing what I like to learn about. I was labeled

an honor student throughout my secondary public schooling, which made me feel smart. The

pressure to apply to a college and get accepted was introduced to me in 8th grade, which caused

me to panic. Myself and plenty others spent the next four years constantly worrying about

grades, credits, and extracurricular activities. I still worry about my GPA. I was also introduced

to the workforce agent of socialization during this stage of life. I got my first job when I was 12,

and have had a job since then. My beginning stages of employment, daycare working,

babysitting, bowling alley, etc, taught me simple rules like punctuality, listening, and being

polite. According to Dr. Jeylan Mortimer, “employment helps them to develop a wide range of

beneficial attributes, such as the capacity to take responsibility, develop time-management skills,

overcome shyness with adults, and handle money” (Mortimer, J. T. 2010). Socialization from

peers was the biggest influence for me during this time period. During this time period, I was

severely bullied. Kids were mean to me, especially boys from the grade above me. They would

tease me constantly, saying heinous things. This experience taught me to sometimes disregard the

beliefs of others, and to not let anyone make me feel badly about myself. Fortunately for me, I

was also able to make serious friends who taught me multiple things. Having friends made me

considerate, and made me commit effort to relationships. Having friends taught me even more in

adolescence than in childhood, because my friends were finding themselves and I was learning

alongside of them. One rite of passage from this period was being the first of my friends to get

my driver’s license. I became the responsible “mom” friend from that point. Having friends also

taught me how to have romantic relationships. I learned how to support another person, make

them feel loved, and to also respect that other person. I had my first boyfriend during this stage

of life, and while there are a few things I would love to forget about that relationship, it definitely

altered my personality permanently.

I have only been in this emerging adult stage of life for a few years, but it has drastically

changed my personality in that short period of time. My family has changed me into a nurturing

soul. I now have a serious boyfriend of multiple years and our families have merged into one. I

have been affected by both families and have learned so many lessons from my newer family

members. I now have 6 nieces and nephews (and counting) who have opened up my heart in a

way I did not know was possible. My schooling has changed my life dramatically in this current

stage as well. I was previously at a Big 10 university, when multiple things fell apart. I could not

stay at the school for financial, housing, and academic program reasons. I was so confused and

was really struggling. I was more or less forced to relocate back home and attend community

college. LCCC has taught me so much about myself and my passions. I know what I want to

dedicate the rest of my life to. I know what I enjoy learning and writing about. School in the last

three years has taught me that plans fall apart and you have to be confident in your personal

ability to move on and gather what pieces you can. My peers have taught me that quality is more

important than quantity. I have a small circle of friends who are the best, and am not drowning in

the drama of poor relationships like I was in previous life stages. My friends have also taught me

that it is okay to seek help for mental health, which has changed my life as well. Working in this

stage of life is preparing me to enter adulthood. I am learning how to be a good worker. I am

learning the ways around an office and how to communicate professionally with others. I am

learning the skills I need for the rest of my life.

My life has changed so much since birth. The socialization I went through has shaped me

into the young adult I currently am. I am going to continue to change and evolve from

socialization as my life continues. I really connect with Mead’s idea of the “me” and “I”

personalities. I think my relationship with others, and how they view me has really changed my

personality. I think that I strive to fill others’ expectations for me. I strive to please others. I have

been working on my personal beliefs about myself, and am trying to become less interested in

how others perceive me, and work on how I feel about myself. I want to become more creative

and independent. I want to make myself happy, not others (Coser 1977). Hopefully I will achieve

this during my next stage of life.



Hoynes, W., & Croteau, D. (2014). Experience Sociology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw


Coser. (1977). The "I" and the "Me". Retrieved March 15, 2018, from

Mortimer, J. T. (2010, January 01). The Benefits and Risks of Adolescent Employment.

Retrieved March 15, 2018, from

Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World. (2016, April 08). Retrieved March 15,

2018, from


The Role of Schools in the Early Socialization of Gender Differences. (n.d.). Retrieved March

15, 2018, from