This is such a hot topic amongst my friends right now since many of us have young adults in the age range of 18-20. We have debated responsibiity and freedom, future plans and goals or lack thereof, and how we help our young adults transition into being healthy, happy, independent adults.
We all kind of know the options – four year college, two year college, vocational or trade school, military, gap year, or full time employment. The teenaged brain isn’t a mature one, and many teens have developmental needs that impact the timeline of further independence as well. There really aren’t easy answers, and every young adult is different in what they need in terms of support. It can get a little crazy at this age and almost becomes a pressurized comparision time just like it did way back in the baby and toddler years of who is sleeping through the night first, who is walking first – only now it is who knows what they might like to do for a career, are they going to college, if they aren’t going to college what does that transition to independent living look like?
Things are different now than when we started out. Financial constraints are real. A full time job that pays federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would require a 94 hour work week in order to afford a one bedroom apartment (typically). You can see a breakdown of this by state here. Also keep in mind employees that are tipped could make more or less than the minimum wage. I also find many young adults who are used to a certain standard of living from their family (my area is a suburb that definitely has a mix of poverty and wealthy), are reluctant to try to branch out on their own because they essentially want and expect what their parents have and probably built up over many years.
Student debt is real. The student debt figures from 2017 stood at $1.4 trillion overall, with the average student loan debt in 2017 being $34,000. Some students, depending on their major, have reported being underemployed or with difficulty entering the job market.
So, perhaps for some of these reasons, for the first time in 130 years, according to the Pew Research Center, those 18-34 are more likely to be living with parents than married or living with a partner (see article here). There was also a super interesting article here at The Washington Post that pointed out another potential cause. It suggested that there are many young able bodied men without college degrees that are happy being underemployed or unemployed, living with their parents and playing video games. In part, this article said, ” The paper attributes one-third to one-fifth of the decline in work hours by less-educated young men to the rising use of technology for entertainment — mainly video games. The new study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and the researchers say they are continuing to refine the precise figures. But other prominent economists who reviewed it for this story said it raises important questions about why so many young men have abandoned the workforce….[ He added], “They find evidence that a portion … of the decrease in work time of less-educated young men can be a result of the appeal of video games.”
So, if you are supporting your 18-19 year olds, or you are coming up to that age in a few years, what are some things you could be thinking about for this transitional period?
1 – Actually making it a transition. Can they pay you rent if they are living with you? How will you handle that? What about responsibilities around the house? Do they hold a job? Why or why not? Are they playing video games in place of employment?
2 – How can you help them with further training for employment? What do they need to go to trade school or a two or four year college? Or will they work a job and get on the job training? Is the cost of training/education realistic debt-wise in comparison to a salary that can be made?
3-What are their relationships like? How can they tap into community? Is there something beyond screens that is healthy and satisfying?
4- Are you rescuing them? The best way to prepare for life isn’t just a high school diploma or a GED, but to learn is from mistakes and natural consequences.
5 – Do you trust your young adults to create their own lives, even if it looks different from what you envisioned?
6- Do you know your own boundaries? What works for you and your family in relation to your young adult. What are your expectations, your attitude, your ideas? It’s easier to think about this before the situation comes up and you are in the middle of it.
Everyone has different stories and experiences. Leave me a note in the comments and tell me what worked or didn’t work! Would love to hear your tips and ideas!