A few weeks ago, I was with a group of ministers and pastors and the topic of emerging adulthood, the transitional phase starting at 18 and stretching over into the mid and late 20’s, came up. We discussed the the many former students we knew who were dissatisfied with job options, living with their parents, and unsure of the next step. There we were wondering why the switch didn’t seem to flipping.
Adulthood is traditionally defined by achieving five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying, and having a child. While marrying and having a child might be marginalized and preferential indicators, most parents hope and expect their children leave home, finish school, and become financially independent within 5 years of completing high school.
However, the achievement of these milestones relies directly upon a person taking personal responsibility for self and others (Galatians 6:5) and there are perspectives and initiatives you can instill and pursue to put them on that trajectory.
- Your child’s identity isn’t found in you. We have one Father, who is in heaven (Matthew 23:9). As much as we love our children, God is the one who made them (Psalm 139:13) and the one who purchased them with Jesus’ death on the cross (1 Corinthians 6:20; Romans 6:6, 18). Every person, our children included, is accountable to the Father and King of all (Romans 14:12). God has entrusted us to care for His children he as given us.
- Adopt a training mindset. Train, discipline, instruct, and teach are all words that consistently appear in the Bible in regards to parenting (Proverbs 22:6; 29:15; 13:24; 29:17; 22:15; Psalm 127:3; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Seriously, it comes up often! Training is intentional with a goal in mind. Sit down with your spouse and set some goals to train your children towards. Treasure the time you have with your children to prepare them for the work God has created them to do (Ephesians 2:10)!
- Give them practical skills. Kicking a soccer ball and playing a trumpet are great experiences to have, but they likely won’t be an income source or a focal point of their time once they leave your house. Learning how to manage their money, do their laundry, cook meals, set appropriate boundaries, and perform house and car maintenance will all be skills they need to prosper in adulthood. If you don’t possess those skills, find another adult who does and ask they to teach you and your child.
- Resist the urge to be Superman. Failure is brutal to watch, but it’s part of our world. Everyone experiences failures and disappointments, but we must all learn how to cope and overcome. Your child will learn, grow, and overcome. Remind yourself often that your personal identity is based in God alone rather than your child’s performance.