Cover image for Big questions, worthy dreams : mentoring young adults in their search for meaning, purpose, and faith
Big questions, worthy dreams : mentoring young adults in their search for meaning, purpose, and faith
Parks, Sharon Daloz, 1942-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco, Calif. : Jossey-Bass, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 261 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL42 .P37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The "twenty-something" years of young adulthood are increasingly recognized as critical but puzzling. Building on the foundation she established in her classic work, The Critical Years, Sharon Parks urges thoughtful adults to assume responsibility for providing strategic mentorship during this important decade in life. She reveals also, however, the ways young adults are influenced not only by individual mentors but also by mentoring environments.

To read Young Adulthood in a Changing World, an excerpt from this book,click here.

Author Notes

Sharon Daloz Parks is an associate director and member of the faculty at the Whidbey Institute, near Seattle.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

According to theology professor Parks, twentysomething young adults, plagued by consumerism and cynicism, need to be challenged to examine their "meaning-making" --the quest to find a center for their beliefs and a focus for their lives. Sifting through psychological theories, Parks presents the guiding principle of "faithing . . . putting one's heart upon that which one trusts is true." She argues that, as young adults move from outside authority to inner knowing, it is important to find mentors who can inspire, support, and recognize young people, helping them to find their place within themselves and society. With the emphasis on spirituality rather than traditional religion, mentors are urged to ask the "big questions": Is there a master plan? What constitutes meaningful work? Mentoring environments, such as academia, the workplace, religion, and extended families, are examined in detail. Pertinent quotes from students and philosophers sprinkled throughout add a personal touch to this mostly theoretical book aimed at teachers and counselors but of definite interest to concerned parents. --Candace Smith

Library Journal Review

As society becomes more complex and socially diverse, the stages of early adulthood lengthen and grow more complicated as well. Parks, an associate director of the Whidbey Institute, addresses this dilemma in this successor to The Critical Years: Young Adults and the Search for Meaning, Faith, and Commitment (1986). Drawing upon the developmental theories of Swiss cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget and others, she applies and broadens their insights to the spiritual journey young people face. Critical features include a movement from authority-based forms of meaning to self-reliance. She also presents a theory of imagination and its power to light the passions of a new generation. "Mentoring communities" are viewed as a powerful new form of social support for young adults. These relationships may be forged in higher education, job settings, or other institutions where young adults are encouraged to pursue worthy dreams rather than narrow self-interest. Thoughtful, stimulating, and well-referenced, this book is recommended for counselors and spiritual advisers and the academic collections that serve them.ÄAntoinette Brinkman, formerly with Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this complete rewriting of her earlier monograph The Critical Years: Young Adults and the Search for Meaning, Faith, and Commitment (1991, 1986), Parks (Whidby Inst., Washington) sets out to inform and inspire those who already work with young adults in their 20s--or who can be encouraged to do so. Combining insights from developmental psychology and theology, she argues in accessible prose that young adults ought to be challenged to ask "big questions" about "self, other, work, and 'God.'" Drawing evidence from her "ongoing experience of teaching, counseling, and consulting," she proposes that within the standard model of faith development pioneered by James Fowler, there needs to be room for an identifiable stage of "young adulthood," a stage marked by "the capacity to take self-aware responsibility for choosing the shape and path of one's own fidelity." Young adulthood, Parks insists, is best nurtured through participation in a community that poses a trustworthy alternative to earlier assumed knowing. Mentors and proteges, often a teacher and a small group of students, create and sustain these communities, which in turn support the young adult's quest for vocation, the sense of "calling" that gives final meaning to a life's work. General readers, graduate students, faculty; of particular interest to college student affairs professionals. L. B. Tipson Wittenberg University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
1. Young Adulthood in a Changing World: Promise and Vulnerabilityp. 1
2. Meaning and Faithp. 14
3. Becoming at Home in the Universep. 34
4. It Matters How We Thinkp. 53
5. It All Depends...p. 71
6. ...On Belongingp. 88
7. Imagination: The Power of Adult Faithp. 104
8. The Gifts of a Mentoring Environmentp. 127
9. Mentoring Communitiesp. 158
Higher Education
Professional Education and the Professions
The Workplace
The Natural Environment
Religious Faith Communities
10. Culture as Mentorp. 206
Notesp. 223
The Authorp. 243
Name Indexp. 245
Subject Indexp. 251