Here’s a question every teacher, coach and parent should ask themselves:
What’s the end game as I lead my students? My athletes? My kids?
Seriously. How do you know if you’ve done your job well? What’s a “win” for you? If it’s simply teaching a subject, building an athletic skill or nurturing them, then we have done a stellar job. Kids today are well-educated, better at sports and believe they’re very special. We’ve definitely nurtured this generation of young people. Some say we’ve wrapped them in bubble wrap and put a helmet on them.
But if the end-game is preparing them to live without help—then we’ve failed. If our ultimate goal is self-regulation and independence, we’ve done a miserable job.
Young Adults Still Depending on Mom and Dad
New research is out—and the evidence is clear. In 2012, 36% of the nation’s young adults ages 18 to 31—the Millennial generation—were living in their parents’ home, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. This is the highest share in at least four decades and represents a slow but steady increase over the 32% of their same-aged counterparts who were living at home prior to the Great Recession in 2007 and the 34% doing so when it officially ended in 2009.
A record total of 21.6 million Millennials lived in their parents’ home in 2012, up from 18.5 million of their same aged counterparts in 2007. The males of the Millennial generation are more likely than the women to be living with their parents—40% versus 32%—continuing a long-term gender gap in the share of young adults who do so.
Now I know what you’re thinking. The economy is bad. Jobs are scarce. Money is tight, and perhaps a twenty-something can save more when living in their parents’ basement. Perhaps—if that is, indeed, what they’re doing. But here’s what we’re finding. Both females and males seem to be moving back home after college—the latest number is 85% of last year’s senior class planned on moving back home when they finished school. The difference is, the females moved back home with an exit plan. The males moved back home…with no plan.
A New End Game
May I suggest a new objective for you? I believe our end game is to prepare these young people to live without us; to work, to play, to grow and to thrive on their own. So how do we do this? How do we prepare them for their future?
1. Establish an expectation – Let them know when they need to be on their own.
2. Identify a strength – Help them find their natural strengths and play to them.
3. Cultivate a skill – Enable them to turn their strength into a valuable skill.
4. Provide a network – Introduce them to key people you know who can help them.
5. Furnish a compass – Show them how to make good trade-offs and decisions.
6. Give them a deadline – Set a date that they must be ready to move on and out.
Ultimately, love doesn’t coddle, it cultivates. If we love our students, we will do everything in our power to equip them for the future. It has little to do with our need for love or our need to be needed. It has everything to do with their need to be self-reliant and on their own. This is our measuring stick.
Talk to me. Am I too tough on them? Am I being too tough on adults?