“Hi Mom! I’m home…to stay!” Have you noticed that young people today in their 20s and early 30s are increasingly living at home with their folks? In fact, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune citing the Pew Research Center, it has been more than 130 years since this phenomenon has been seen. Gail MarksJarvis, citing Pew in her article “Living with parents is now the most common arrangement for young adults,” (May 24, 2016) said, “Adults between 18 and 34 are more likely to live with a parent than to get married or move in with a romantic partner.” She went on to explain that this trend in living conditions has significant implications for our economy for its impact on the real estate market and the many goods and services associated with owning and maintaining a home. This trend, called “adultolescence” by others, has impacts that go far beyond the economy.
John Piper, in an article at Crosswalk.com, defined adultolescence as “the postponement of adulthood into the thirties.” In this article, Piper cited Christian Smith, professor of sociology at Notre Dame, and described four causes for this extension of youth:
- The growth of higher education. The pressure on millennials to pursue higher education as well as the dramatic expansion of higher ed options has made it easier for this segment of our population to focus on education and further delay families and careers.
- The delay of marriage. See the previous point. Our culture also now places less emphasis on the central role of the family in society.
- Increased career flexibility and frequent re-education. Dramatic shifts in the global economy require young people to be nimble in their work and education commitments. This also translates into flexibility in their living situation. Translation: no long-term commitments.
- Increase in parental support. Parents realize the tremendous resources that young people require for success and they are more willing to provide aid through their 20s and into their 30s.
Summarizing Smith’s findings, Piper said, “The characteristics of the 18-30 year-olds that these four factors produce include:
- identity exploration
- focus on self
- feeling in limbo, in transition, in-between, and
- sense of possibilities, opportunities, and unparalleled hope.”
As you’ve been reading this article, you’ve thought about the young people you know, and I’m confident you see some or all of these characteristics in their lives.
What does all this mean for leadership, though? How does this impact your role as a leader?
Piper’s five characteristics have these implications for you in leading young people.
They don’t know themselves yet. You can (should) play a role in helping them discover who they are and the best impact they can have on this world.
They will be unsteady at times. You will have a dramatic impact by being patient as they test out different versions of self-perception and interacting with their world.
They might appear to be selfish. Maybe they are. Maybe they are just trying to figure out who they are. In fact, you might have a better understanding of them than they do. In the context of relationship, look for opportunities to share wisdom of what you see.
They feel confused and lack confidence. They are and do. They need your steady and stable leadership.
They are excited about the future. Join them! These young people are your future leaders and they have tremendous potential.
If you’re like me, you sometimes struggle with understanding the millennials. Sometimes I want to say “Grow up. Move out. Take more responsibility in life.” There may be some wisdom in that, but instead of a harsh word and a shove out the door, your influence as a coaching-leader can have much greater impact.
Engage them in their real situation and help them begin their journey to become mature leaders of the next generation.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.