Of the many things that pretty much all responsible parents want for their kids, one is certainly self-sufficiency. We want our kids to be able to support themselves and their future families; in fact, we might even include that concept in the very idea of “growing up.” Yet with a growing number of “adultescents” living at home and mooching off their moms and dads, it’s clear that a large segment of our society isn’t doing a very good job of this.
As Christian parents, it’s important to address this issue like we do so many others — by looking at it through the lens of Scripture and providing our kids with counter-cultural instruction and training, when needed.
Like effective arrows, we aren’t preparing our children to stay put, but to go out into the world, on their own (Psa.127:4). While we don’t see a specific age mentioned in Scripture, we do see the concept of adulthood and marriage as separate from being dependent on one’s parents. While increasingly long commitments to post-high-school education certainly muddy these waters, marriage definitely makes for a clear distinction (Gen. 2:24).
It seems pretty obvious that the reason more twentysomethings are staying close to home is that it’s easier and more comfortable. Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars each month on not-so-fun expenses like a rent or a mortgage, they can pretty much buy whatever they want. Even though teens and young adults make less money than older adults, their spending money accounts for 85% of discretionary income overall. Parents are promoting this inequity — and the continuation of it — when they allow kids to avoid taking on financial and other responsibilities.
What are you doing to encourage your kids to want to move on to that next stage in life? If they have free reign to spend whatever money they make, are you really preparing them for adulthood?
When teens have so much money to blow, it’s understandable that they don’t feel the need to gain income-earning education or skills. Especially if a hard work ethic is not ingrained, there’s basically no motivation to work hard and move past a minimum-wage scenario. Before you know it, these kids with no skills are parents themselves and realize they can’t make it financially, nor enjoy all that spending money they had as a teen. So they go on strike, saying they deserve a teacher’s salary for flipping burgers and really think they’re right. Whatever your feelings are about minimum wage and the government’s place in establishing a livable wage, one thing is sure: These aren’t carefully directed arrows.
As we communicate with our children and teens our expectations for them to become independent adults and curb their comforts while they live at home, we can help them avoid having a skewed view of their status, and we can instead encourage them to gain the education and skills that will enable them to provide for their own families someday and direct their own arrows for the Lord.