College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can … get going with life.” – Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

It used to be so easy.

Junior or Little Ms. reached his or her 18th birthday and out-the-door he or she went to face the cruel, cruel word.

leavingat18

It’s not so sophisticated today.

One of the more popular features of the unpopular 2,300-page Obamacare is the provision that offspring up to 26-years-old can be covered by their parent’s health insurance. One wonders why the specific age of 26 was chosen? Twenty-five seems like a more natural stopping point. Ah, the mysteries of the infinite-wisdom crowd, residing and regulating from inside the Beltway.

As a parent of a very independent 23-year-old daughter trying to build her life in the über-expensive San Francisco Bay Area, I keep on thinking about “old” 23-year-olds and “young” 23-year-olds (let alone “old” 18-year-olds and “young” 18-year-olds). Not everyone matures and grows up in exactly the same way. One may be ready to conquer the world at 23, while another of the same age may still require the sanctuary of mom and dad’s house.

Was the system that was so prevalent during the era of the so-called “Greatest Generation” the way to go? “Happy Birthday! Out the door you go…!”

This particular practice comes across as rather heartless to the modern ear. At the same time hundreds of thousands succeeded because they had no choice but to swim to avoid sinking. Many of them grew up big time in the fields of Europe or the islands of the Pacific, and came home to a college education paid for by the G.I. Bill.

Fast forwarding to the era of the Millennials one must ask: If we show our kids “tough love” and push our kids out the door, even in the direction of a four-year college, do we run the risk that a “young” 18-year-old is simply too young to survive, let alone succeed?

When is early, too early?

Conversely, if we acquiesce in the face of a rotten economy to offspring in their early 20s to staying at home, are we potentially retarding their independence? Are we fostering a “taker,” when the individual has all the ability to be a “maker?” Do we want our homes to become “crash pads” for our offspring, and quite possibly their live-ins?livingwithparents

When is late, too late?

Confounding this dilemma is an undeniable fact: We are talking about adults here. This is not entirely our decision to make, even though we may pay ze mortgage or ze rent. Do the purse strings control the decision, the heart strings or a combination of many factors?

As I have mentioned before in writing these cyber pages, I have not taken any classes in psychology or sociology and don’t plan to do so. I have taken real world “coursework” in being a parent of an aspiring beauty products marketing Wunderkind.

This issue came to a head three years ago when I was offered a graduate teaching fellowship at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. This was a great opportunity to earn my master’s degree. My basic thought was: “If not now, when?” There was also the question of my then-21-year-old daughter. She always wanted her independence. Beware of what you want.

Let me make an ex-cathedra statement right here: If my daughter was only 18-years-old…and a young 18 at that…I would not have pursued graduate school, particularly at a university located out of state. Three years later, she was old enough to order vodka with a twist. Shouldn’t she be able to pursue her professional dreams with a little help from me…but without me directly providing a roof over her head?

Mumsy and dad-in-law raised some eyebrows, and I listened to their “concerns.” I also contemplated that I was the one that was monetarily assisting my daughter. I made the decision to sell the house, pack-my-bags, and pursue my M.A. I also decided to seek out housing for my daughter, affording her first taste of real independence.

Three years later, my daughter is making a go of it in a corporate setting in downtown San Francisco. She is endeavoring to be a maker, not a taker. She clearly understands “Buy low, Sell high.” That is a great recipe for never starving.

If I had bypassed my pursuit of a master’s degree, I would not have grown the way that I have in the immediate years north of the midpoint of life. And I afraid my daughter would still be at home. Instead of a fading Obama poster, she would be staring at her “Hello Kitty” poster.

She will never be a taker (I told her repeatedly that dad is not the federal government), but I am not convinced she would be as far along in becoming a maker, and applying her Darwin-given talent when it comes to marketing and keeping customers happy. You can make big bucks when you can do that, and maybe give a little back to society.

Here’s to leaving home when it’s time.

 

 

Advertisements