Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nurturing the Boomerang Generation

Image by R. Pollard
First some definitions for this post…

Boomerang Child: A boomerang is an adult, age 18 or older, who moves out of the family home for a time and then moves back in.

Deadbeat Child: A deadbeat is an adult, age 18 or older, who is not going to school, living with parent(s) or friend(s), is not working or looking for a job and does not help out with household or yard work chores.  This is not to be confused with a deadbeat parent who is failing to pay child support, but I’m sure there is a strong correlation among the two groups.

Some boomerangs are deadbeats, while some deadbeats are not boomerangs because they never left in the first place. 

There are many young adults who are living outside of the home only through substantial parental financial support, so in reality they are not financially independent.  These folks will escape the disdain of society because they look like they are successful, but their parents may view them as deadbeats.

The Situation
The Pew Research Center had the following startling facts on boomerangs:

  • 29% of boomerangs say they’re satisfied with their living arrangements
  • 24% of boomerangs moved back in with their parents their own because of economic conditions.
  • 61% of boomerangs say they have friends or family members who have moved back in with their parents over the past few years because of economic conditions.
  • Those without a college degree are twice as likely as those who have graduated from college to be living with or have moved back in with their parents (22% vs. 10%)
  • 32% of 25-34 year olds receive substantial financial support from their parents. 

Stats on deadbeats are difficult to flesh out (I tried, really) due to the subjective definition of a deadbeat.  I’m just going to assume the number of deadbeats is on the rise.

What does this deadbeat trend mean to parents?
While the Pew study cites the troubled economy as the leading factor for boomerangs.  The growth of deadbeats in our society has a lot to do with our over-permissive and overindulgent parenting styles.  (Pr. 3:11-12) (Pr. 13:24) (Pr 19:18) Christian families are also falling prey to this as more and more parents equate permissiveness with love.  This is one of the main reasons for the decline of our society. 

Christians should not be surprised by this trend, but we should take note as we deal with our children (Eph 5:15-16).  As more and more of our kid’s generation become deadbeats there will be a general expectation that this type of lifestyle will be accepted in your house (1 Cor. 15:33-34).  You will have to work harder to reinforce your expectations that they grow to be independent.

A Biblical Way Forward for Parents
We as parents must nurture our children towards independence.  In addition as Christians, we should aspire to instill a strong sense of devotion to Christ. (Proverbs 22:6) (Ephesians 6:4)

Discipline is going to look different for each family as well as for each child.  Their personality bents, interests, and gifts seen through the light of scripture should determine our methods (Proverbs 22:6).

David failed to discipline his son Amnon for raping his sister Tamar.  David was angry but did nothing.  David’s guilt from his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband made him less willing to do what needed to be done.   This inaction led to the death of his sons Amnon and Absolom, as well as 20,000 Israelites in a costly civil war.  (2 Samuel Chapters 13-18)

A Biblical Way Forward for Adult Children
If you are a young adult reading this and you are not doing enough to contribute to the household or doing enough to move towards independence, you will probably be kicked out soon.   Ditto, if you are living with a friend. 

Living the life of a deadbeat is a life of sin.  Confess your sins to God.  Change and get to work. (Pr. 10:1) (Pr. 10:4) (Pr. 12:24) (1 John 1:9) (Pr. 14:23)

If you are a young adult receiving financial support then sit down and talk with your parents about their expectations of you.  Communication is key and all parties have to do their part.   Why wait until the door locks are changed and your stuff is thrown out on the front porch?

This post is a part of the Christian Writers Blog Chain.  Check out other great posts by clicking on the links on the left.

Please comment I really want to hear your take on this difficult and interesting subject.