Want Your Kids Gone? Gotta Let Them Fail!

Let your kids“I hope when my kids are in their 30s, and I’m in my 60s, that they come back to live with me for a few years.”

Said no parent, ever.

Why are so many kids moving back home?  And why are they now moving back home not in their 20s, but now in their 30s?

A recent Pew analysis of 2012 numbers found that 36 percent of young adults aged 18 to 31 were living in their parents’ homes. That was up from 32 percent in 2007.  Baltimore Business Journal wrote:

The data come as no surprise to Dr. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, who has been studying a phenomenon he calls “emerging adulthood” for 20 years. The Clark University professor is the author, along with Elizabeth Fishel, of “Getting to 30: A Parent’s Guide to the 20-Something Years.”

Arnett’s research has found that several economic and social forces have converged to make “30 the new 20.”

Really? 30 is the new 20?

I don’t think so.

As a parent, my #1 job is to raise kids who can one day move out and be successful.  If they’re moving back in with us in their 30’s, that means that they were NOT successful.  And then, by extension, it means that I, the parent, failed as well.  And I think that’s probably why parents in their 60s are now accepting as “normal” that their adult children might become dependents again.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Kids WANT to be independent.  Parents WANT their kids to move out.   Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?  So what’s the problem?

I think it’s guilt.  Guilt is getting in the way.

Parents of Millenials raised their kids in an era where any “good” parent would sacrifice their time, money, and opportunities to give kids access to anything they needed, or wanted:  prestigious preschools, traveling sports teams, private college.  Parents felt guilty if they couldn’t provide all of these for their kids.

Or perhaps worse, they felt failure if their kids failed at anything.  For the kids and the parents, failure was simply not an option.

This is a big problem. We need to change this.  Failure IS an option.  In fact, failure is necessary.  There is nothing wrong with letting kids fail.

All learning comes from failure.

There’s no shame in seeing your kids fail at something.  Instead, take pride in knowing that your kids are going to experience some hard times, that you’ll be there to be empathetic and loving as they recover, and that they’ll learn to be independent in the end. Some of the most important things we’ve taught our kids are things we didn’t teach at all. We’ve stepped out of the way and let them make mistakes. They’ve learned to cope with their failures, and know that it’s always possible to pick yourself up after you fall, and look forward to a better day tomorrow.

Along the way, they’ve learned that their decisions today will have consequences tomorrow. They’ve also learned that it’s great to have hopes and dreams, but it’s equally important to actually work toward that future. Sure, they’re all in high school now so I don’t know where they’re going to wind up, but I feel pretty confident that someday, I’ll be able to move them out of my house, and they’ll stay gone.

Time will tell.

So I’m curious – do you have adult children that have moved back home? How did that happen? Am I on the right track here? Please leave your thoughts below.

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