Once again the York household has a week of flux upon us. My middle daughter, who graduated from college last year and has been living with us as she works toward going to physician’s assistant school, is heading out of country today for a few weeks. Tomorrow Papa, my father-in-law who has been with us for a week or so, will head back to Michigan. Later this week, my youngest son will finish his sophomore year of college and be home for the summer. At some point his girlfriend will be staying with us for a few days. At the end of the week, my wife and daughter will receive dear friends from out-of-state then leave for a trip the next day. I wrote this down just now so I could keep track of what all is happening!
I also share it with you to give some credence to what I am about to write. For I would like to offer some advice to young adults living at home, be they students returning for the summer, graduates who have come back to the nest for a while, or those in their twenties who have never left. Having my own adult children under roof at various times and hosting their friends in the same situation, I have observed a thing or two about this phenomenon. Based on the fifth commandment regarding honoring our parents and Philippians 4:8 which encourages us to think in proper ways, here are a few reminders for you.
You are not alone. According to CBS News, young adults living at home is at a 75-year high. Nearly forty percent of young adults are living with their parents or other family members. Often I hear young people speak as if they are the only ones in this (house) boat. Clearly that is not the case.
You are not a loser. Though certainly some of the numbers above consist of the basement-dwelling, video game-playing, soaking-the-parents, pushing-thirty-but-never-growing-up sluggardly types, that’s by far the minority. The young people I know are hard-working, future-looking men and women who are often transitioning through school, careers, or relationships. It is wisdom, not disgrace, to utilize the economic advantage, protection, and mutual encouragement your parents’ home can give during this time. Do not fall for the lie that when you turn 18 or at least 22 you must be autonomous.
Respect the rules. Young people, who leave the home for a time and experience the independence of school or work, then return back to the nest for a season, often act surprised that the same rules are still in place as when they first left. So avoid the temptation to roll your eyes when your mom requires you to keep your room picked up or dad asks you to take a turn mowing the lawn. What did you expect?
Enjoy the shade but beware of the shadow. One difficulty young adults express is that when they come home, they are often just seen by church members or family friends as their mom and dad’s kid rather than an adult in their own right. Just remember that your own maturing, taking responsibility, and serving others will soon cause this shadow to fade. And also remember that pretty soon it will be us parents who will be known by you (I’m starting to hear more and more “Oh, your _______’s dad” with the name of one of my children filling in the blank).
Communicate your schedule. One place of common conflict is for a young adult to bring their independent lifestyle back home in making plans but not considering the impact that may have on the rest of the household. Having some sit down time with your parents to discuss plans and keeping things clearly logged on a calendar accessible to all helps avoid unnecessary frustration with you.
Share in the upkeep. Show your parents you truly are an adult by having a sense of responsibility in the maintenance of the household. Offering to pay some rent, help with bills (that food in the refrigerator may grow on trees but the money to put it there does not), or do extra maintenance projects on the house and yard are just some of the ways you can contribute. These tasks are also preparing you for assuming a home of your own someday.
Enjoy this season! This exhortation is my final one. Every time one of our children has come back home for a period, it has been a rich season of growing closer, learning more of our family’s heritage as we share meals and memories across generations, and deepening our bonds. Enjoy this time at home as a God-given season rather than viewing it as a life sentence.