Strong opinion warning.
I’m not a fan of adult children living at home. It’s one thing if you’re on break from school and you’re a temporary visitor. It’s another thing when you’re able bodied. I’d even argue that the best thing for 18 year olds staying local for community college would be to kick them out of the house.
Trust me. They won’t die of exposure.
My opinion is that coddling teenagers leads to dependency. From a sociological perspective, I hypothesize adult coddling of teenagers and young adults has lead to an elongation of adolescence. (Some say it ends at 26? Crazy.) Likewise, raising a child from an early age with the goal that they will become happy, healthy, and independent young adults will prepare them for the swift kick that comes after high school graduation.
I was Lisa’s youth pastor when she was in high school. She’s the eldest child from a great family. She worked hard in high school, was faithful to God, her parents, and a dedicated student. She’d be the first to tell you that she wasn’t perfect in high school. But something in Lisa’s character kept me investing in her. When she was a sophomore she and a few others started showing up for a 6 am Bible study. I thought they’d come for 2-3 weeks… and to my amazement we kept it going for almost 2 years! After high school she headed off to Grace College where she’ll earn a degree in just a few weeks with an emphasis on criminal justice and adolescence psychology.
Last November, I was on a flight using the wifi late at night when we struck up a conversation on Facebook chat. Inevitably, I asked the question: “So what do you want to do when you grow up? What’s next?”
She had some ideas but expressed some frustration. She really wanted to go back home to Michigan but feared that she’d either not find a decent job at all or be forced to give up her dream of working with teenagers. Let’s face it– Michigan is a tough place to be a recent college grad.
I was afraid for her. My fear was that she’d move home, not find a decent job, end up in something like minimum wage… unhappy and stuck in a cycle of paying off student loans by doing jobs that she wasn’t passionate about– and living at home.
I offered a potential solution we both agreed to pray about it.
What if you moved in with us, watched our kids during their summer break, and spent the summer chasing some of those social justice dreams by volunteering with San Diego-based non-profits?
Lo and behold after a month or so of praying about it we all agreed it’d be worth a shot.
Starting in June Lisa is coming to live with us. She has the first 6 weeks of time with us to volunteer for some non-profits. (We’re basically paying her to be a volunteer!) Than the second half of the time her concentration will shift to watching our kids when school ends July 15th.
We pray it’s a win-win. She gains some experience and exposure to what God is doing in the social justice community in San Diego. And our kids have a sweet nanny.
The hope, naive as it may be, that this will be a “halfway house” type of experience. We hope that through this experience that she’ll be able to find a permanent job, land a place to stay, and move on at the end of the summer to the next phase in her life. (Probably grad school being in the not-too-far distance.)
Independence is possible. We just need to facilitate it as opposed to fostering dependency.
This is how we’re helping a societal problem. How are you?
It’s been a big summer for Megan. At eight years old she has visited 19 of the 50 states. (By her age I think I had been to 3 states.) She got to go to Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia this summer. Since she is my road trip girl she took all of this in stride. Hadly a complaint along the way. Long car rides, plane rides, ferry rides, and train rides don’t really phase her. They just make her hungry to learn more, see more, and explore more. She is like her mother in that she can quietly take everything in or read a book to pass the time. Her intelligence amazes me. I hope that we are broadening her horizons fast enough to whet her appetite.
Back home it has been a big summer for her, too. This has been a summer of reading. She reads everything. We make multiple trips to the library every week to feed her habit. She got an LED reading light for her bed and now it’s not unusual for her to go to bed at 8 and stay up until 11 reading mystery novels. When she isn’t reading books, she is reading on the computer. She has been using Google for a couple of years now and can generally find what she is looking for. But in the Spring I introduced her to Wikipedia and her eyes grew massive. I’ve caught her a number of times going to Wikipedia to learn more about something she read in a book. Usually an animal or a country.
My girl also has a spirit of adventure. While timid at first, she likes to go fast and isn’t afraid of skinning her knees. Both of our kids amaze me with their adaptation skills. Mom and dad have this crazy idea that they want their kids to grow up embracing diversity and looking eye-to-eye with the urban working-class poor. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that Megan loved our day with Jeremy Del Rio on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She played games and enjoyed a street fair there as if she’d lived there her entire life. Back home, we sent her to day camp with folks from the church where, again, she just jumped in and enjoyed the experience. On a more personal note, she proved that she is becoming a California girl… (1/4 of her life here, by the way) At the conclusion of day camp she went to the beach and learned how to surf. A couple weeks later she shocked up by learning to ride a bike in a single day. Then yesterday, the waves were perfect at Torrey Pines and she must have riden 25 waves in a row before giving up in exhaustion.
3rd grade is now just two weeks away. I have no doubt she will impress her teachers once again. With the move now firmly in the rear view mirror we hope that 2009-2010 is a year where she can get better established and settle into a life rthym that will carry through the rest of elementary school. My only fear is that she won’t be challenged enough.
Before Thursday night, I had spoken to exactly zero groups of high school or middle school students in the past school year. None. Zip. Zilch. For the most past that was intentional. I needed a break.That part of my life felt tired when I left Romeo. The grind of preparing 1-2 talks per week, year after year, really does wear you down. I was also feeling the type of exhaustion that lead me to say repeatedly, “I’m qualified to lead and teach, just too tired.” I’ve been especially thankful to the leadership of our church for being patient with me. They’ve allowed me the freedom to rest!
So when Chris from Harbor asked me to host and teach his group of summer interns I was a little apprehensive. I always felt rusty after taking a vacation… how would I feel after taking a year off? Plus, I didn’t know any of the students so I couldn’t lean on relationship. Ah, the excuses I had created in my mind for failure!
It all went great. Kristen completely rocked the hosting part. She made lasagna and salad… keeping it simple always seems to work best. The house was ready, the kids seemed to have a good time. 25 smiling faces when they came, while they were here, and when they left. Success! The only little bump was Stoney getting frisky with some guests. But that’s completely in character for him! The talk part went pretty smooth. If I had practiced a couple of times I wouldn’t have needed my notes at all and I would have had a better feel for some of the material. But I think I maintained their attention and the whole thing was pretty fun. (I was relieved that they actually did the discussion part… I never know how that’ll go.) Hopefully, I gave them something memorable, something worth thinking about, and something applicable to their service when they lead camp next week.
As I’ve shared, the last year has really jacked with my identity in a good way. Switching from a full time role where my ministry was primarily to students and their parents to a role where I interact with a lot of youth leaders but not a lot of students… it’s given me a chance to think a lot about who I really am in Christ. Am I my work? Is my ministry outside the home more important than inside? What is it like to not be labeled “pastor” anymore? One thing Thursday night reminded me of… I was made to work with high school students. I can do a lot of other things at a high competency. And for this season of my life I am perfectly comfortable not working with high school students vocationally. Yet, this was a reminder that I need to be more intentional and giving in volunteering my service to high schoolers. I’ve got to figure that part. Reality tells me that I don’t have oodles of time. But reality also tells me that something will be incomplete if I don’t find 3-4 hours per week to do something with high school students.
That’s what I’m thinking about this Saturday morning. Now off to the beach so Stoney can hump his own kind.