Take Millennials, for example. Some leave home more than once, going back and forth, with small steps each time. Practice makes perfect. And these cumulative experiences prepare them for the ultimate transition into adulthood.
At some level, summer camp is the first step toward greater autonomy. Because our kids’ leave-taking is only temporary, we welcome the break from our daily routine. But we know they’ll come home wanting more freedom, a certain catalyst for growing up.
College is a rite of passage and a big step in the developmental process. As parents, we understand our family will never be the same again. It’s hard to let go and we miss them terribly, but eventually develop the inner strength we need to adjust.
When our emerging adults boomerang back, they tell us they have no choice. Of course, we welcome them, but deep down know there will be challenges. So we set ground rules that work for everyone and continue to support their move toward independence.
The road to adulthood is longer than it has ever been before
College graduates today have loans to pay back and limited job prospects. According to a recent analysis by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Millennials comprise 40% of the country’s unemployed. And 3 in 10 of them have moved home. Even some who are working are back because they’re holding out for the dream job or it makes their lives easier. And according to a Pew Research Report, 8 out of 10 like living with the folks.
Not all adult children are lying on the couch with their smart phones, waiting for mom to come home and make dinner. But they do see the world through a different lens. Whether getting a garage band off the ground or doing community volunteer work, they’re choosing the lifestyle they want. While trusting their intuition and embracing uncertainty, they’re learning skills to be more entrepreneurial. And although the experiences they choose may not be yours, they’ll gradually find solutions and create their own future.