Don’t get me wrong: I love watching Seth Rogen and crew. But after quite a few similarly-themed movies, along with watching some kids these past years, I’m wondering if NOT growing up is becoming a “thing.”
Statistics certainly suggest that is so. Data from Pew Research show that
- For the first time in 130+ years, more than 1/2 of adults ages 18-34 live in their parents’ home
- Over 1/2 are more likely to live with parents than with a spouse or room mate
- 25% of Americans 25-29 yr live in a parent’s home (up from 18% a decade ago)
Certainly a number of factors have influenced the trend including our economy. But Senator Ben Sasse in his article in The Wall Street Journal (May 5, 2017) writes, “Too many of our children simply don’t know what an adult is anymore _ or how to become one. Perhaps more problematic, older generations have forgotten that we need to teach them.” He calls to our attention a new verb, “adulting” as is, “Just paid this month’s bills on time #adulting!” As with Seth Rogen and colleagues, it seems like doing what grown ups DO is some kind of role playing.
You may have noticed that guiding kids to grow up has become one of my themes lately. For example, I can’t say enough good things about Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book, How to Raise an Adult… my TOP reading suggestion for parents and all who work with teens. We’ve taken our eyes off the ball of late, focusing more in college entrance, more on a diverse high school resume than on independence, the ability to make good choices or character.
In case you don’t get to Senator Sasse’s article, I’d like to summarize his points on ways to guide our teens toward attaining adulthood:
- RESIST CONSUMPTION – Help your kids learn the difference between need and want. We KNOW that having stuff and buying stuff doesn’t make people happy. Why do we allow, even encourage our kids toward consumption instead of…charity, compassion, creativity?
- EMBRACE THE PAIN OF WORK – We would never suggest to our teen athlete that he could qualify for the team without working out regularly. Why do not draw similar parallels when our kids have to do “heavy lifting” in academics, art, getting along with others? The old adage, No pain, no gain, still applies.
- CONNECT ACROSS GENERATIONS – Kids develop vital perspective by talking with people outside their peers. Cultural values (honesty, kindness, reliability, modesty, sobriety) are best cultivated in same-gender, cross-generational groups. Think: boys and men bringing in the hay or feeding the livestock; girls and women cleaning up after Thanksgiving dinner. Look for opportunities within your family.
- TRAVEL MEANINGFULLY – We often grumble about our kid’s sense of entitlement but what experience do they have which helps them understand their location in the world’s cultures? The key to meaningful travel is putting your kids outside their comfort zones, helping them see the world from a new perspective. Don’t just see it; talk about it as you travel together.
- BECOME TRULY LITERATE – The average American reads only 19 minutes per day. How can we possibly hope to raise a thoughtful, educated, democratic population? True literacy is not a passive activity. Beyond reading, it requires thinking, questioning, considering and hopefully, even discussing. When was the last time you and your teen read something (even as short as a quotation) and you asked her opinion? Any old topic will do. ( How about : the average American reads only 19 minutes a day) Two of my favorite questions with a kid are, “What’s the good part about this? What’s the not-so-good part?”
The economy, lengthened education, a video game culture, a look-centric society all seem to direct our kids AWAY from genuine maturity, away from becoming an independent, responsible, contributing adult. Thanks to Senator Sasse for giving us some tools we can put to work in order to counter a trend most of us don’t want our kids to follow.