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There's No Hurry

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As I was mowing my front yard about a week ago, this topic came to me. We live close to downtown in our little community. The Department of Health and Human Services is right on our street, so we see lots of coming and going all day. It's where food stamps and other government assistance are received.

Now, I see the people that go in that office all day long. But on this day I noticed a young mother in her Taco Casa uniform going for her appointment. (By the way, we *heart* Taco Casa. It's where we spend 90% of our eating out money.) However, fast-food restaurants are not know for their high-paying careers. This mom was a typical client of the DHS: young, low-income, struggling to survive.

But this is what made me think: How did she get here? What circumstances led her to BE a young, broke, and possibly single mom? What led her to need her fast-food job and government assistance? It could very well be the accepted mantra of our culture: As soon as you're 18, you need to move out and live on your own. Be your own person. Make your own rules.

So (as Dr. Phil would say) "How's that workin' for ya?" I wonder if that girl would make the same choices if she had it to do all over again? Would she hurry to get out from under her parent's authority? Would she rush into a relationship or marriage? Or would she continue to grow under the protective shelter of her parent's wisdom and authority?

Now, at this point, some of you are saying, "But you don't even know that girl's story! You don't know if she's single, or maybe her parents were abusive!"

Of course I don't know her specifically, but I see this same type all day going into that office. Not all of them are like her, but the majority are.

And I don't want to see my kids rushing into a life of fast-food wages and food stamps, all because they wanted to grow up faster.

I am a huge proponent of having kids stay at home with their parents past 18 or 22. I don't think shoving kids out into the world is the best thing for them. And I know I'm in the minority on this one, according to popular thinking.

Around the age of 18, kids are maturing into adults and this is the time they really need the wisdom and nurturing of their parents. They need freedom, but they also still need the protective umbrella of your authority.

Obviously, some kids are ready and able to venture out into their future early. But those who aren't should be encouraged to remain at home. It won't hurt them. It won't make them social misfits. It actually gives them more time to mature, and to slowly find their place in the world.

My husband, who I like a lot, lived at home beyond the typical age of 21. He also had a great relationship with his parents, and vice versa. He was in no hurry to leave home. Sometimes he still wonders if he drug his feet a little, but I say, "No." He was accountable to parental authority. Thus, he avoided much of the trouble that young, single adults encounter when they answer to no one.

I have enjoyed many perks from this arrangement. I am the first girl he kissed, dated, and obviously, married. He has no baggage to carry into our marriage.

When I reached the age of 'adulthood,' I began to develop an entirely new relationship with my parents. It became more of a friendship, and it was lots of fun!

So, in our family, I regularly encourage my children not to think of 18 as the "time to leave" but instead, I invite them to live at home as long as they like. I know that eventually everyone has a desire to move on, but to rush it prematurely could be interfering with God's plan for my children, and I don't want to be in that position.

Read more about government assistance, or read about responsibility in the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder on my other blog, Prairie Sense.

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