Wednesday’s Facebook post includes an article that caught my attention immediately:  why teens aren’t in a hurry to grow up.

Home:  Where the Living is Easy

Even before I read the article I had a list of reasons of my own.  Adulthood generally includes commitments:  to leases, mortgages, car loans, and other people, too.    These days, many new graduates end up living at home, re-inhabiting their old room.  Many teens survived having a roommate for the first time in college, but who wants to wake up to someone else’s noise and dirty socks when their old room at home in Mom and Dad’s house is sitting empty?  It’s hard to beat the convenience of living in a nice home with privacy and a full refrigerator.

Are Young Adults Still Dependent on Their Parents?

It’s true that many young adults end up at home because they are unable to find a job out of college.  Or their student debt load is high, and they want to work to pay it down before incurring other expenses.  But even with a good job, some new grads opt to live at home initially to save money rather than be on their own.   Of course, having a close family is never a bad thing.  But could it also be that new grads feel they need the same level of support as adults that they had as students?  What comes to mind is college counselors who bemoan the fact that some students email their papers home for mom or dad to proofread.  Are college grads pushing off adulthood because they still feel dependent on their parents?

Other Signs of Delayed Adulthood

Statistics show that young people marry later.  Many young adults seem uninterested in committed relationships until they have taken ample time to play the field and/or live for an extended period with a potential mate.  And some young adults choose to wait for marriage until they have financial stability.

There are other signs of a slowing move toward adulthood and independence by young adults.  Teen pregnancy is down, fewer students get their driver’s licenses as soon as they are eligible, and statistics show that teen drinking is down.  Those are generally good things—less risk behavior suggests a higher level of maturity.

Prepare Your Teens for Independence

As parents, our job is to prepare our children to lead independent lives, using whatever gifts and talents they’ve been given.  But to varying degrees, we hover over them and protect them.  Are we allowing them to become too dependent on us?  Are they reluctant to take a chance because they haven’t been allowed to fail?  Do they fear they don’t have the resilience to overcome failure?

On balance, there is good news about the fact that kids are making mature decisions about things like sex and alcohol.   And living at home for a bit to achieve financial stability is also a wise choice.  What parents want to avoid is letting their young adult children fall into a trap of dependence and lack of confidence in their own decisions.

College students and young adults need support from their parents as they take their first steps into adulthood.  I can attest to that.  But lay the groundwork for their independence.   Give them responsibilities; let them suffer the consequences of their actions; force them to be accountable for things that matter.