Monday, November 14, 2011

Singles Living With Parents: What's the Big Deal?

This is the second article this year I've read disparaging single adult men living at home. It seems as though, across the board, the cultural push is for adults over 18 to get out as soon as possible. It's just what is expected....and our society. I just have two questions: Is this way best for the human family to function and, as Christians, is it a biblical model for us to follow?

Anyone will tell you dogs are made to run in packs. In fact, vets caution dogs left alone for too long are likely to exhibit ill behavior. That's why they treat you like a rock star when you come home at night. They get lonely when left alone and will join any other dog if they find them while running loose. When a dog comes to live with you, he becomes a part of your pack. At least, that's from his point of view. That includes you and any other people or animals in the house.

If this is easy to figure out about dogs, then why do we deny the same evident need in humankind? God made humans to live in families. (Gen. 2:18-22; Psa. 68:6) I am convinced this is the primary reason kids from a bad home life end up forming gangs, why guys hang out at the pub when there's a nagging wife at home, and why some elderly women find it extremely satisfying to wear red hats with other elderly women and travel around the globe spending their children's inheritances.  

Truth be told, very few people are happy living alone, and society sees nothing wrong with young adults living together in any other situation than with their parents. After they turn 18, most kids usually end up moving in with their friends, living at the dorm or fraternity/sorority house, or shacking up with their boyfriend/girlfriend. Yet, even if they choose to live alone, they usually take in one or more animals to keep them company. Why, even recluses end up talking to squirrels, mice, spiders, ants, or even in desperation to themselves!

Now, I admit some adults living at home are leaches and loafers, and they are the ones folks worry your kids will to turn out to be like. They assume they are lying about in their jammies watching cable television all day (note the picture accompanying this article) and partying with their buddies every night. This stereotyping, however, doesn't apply to many Christian, single adults who hope to stay home until they either marry or are called into military or ministry service.

Two of our sons chose to enter the military soon after graduation, and our oldest son moved out of state to take an apprenticeship. Each lived alone for most of their time away from the old homestead, and all three were so thankful to go back to Mom and Pop in the end. Though their unmarried sister, who is still living at home after graduating high school four years ago, has never lived away from home, she, too, would be grieved to leave us before marriage.

The fact is, WE LOVE EACH OTHER. We even LIKE each other. We even PREFER one another's company. Because of this, there has been little or no struggle transitioning relationships with our adult children at home from parent-child to parent-adult child. 

Of course, we did have to determine some standards of family living agreed upon between us and the kids so neither was taken for granted. Here are a few suggestions which have worked in our home: 
  • Adult children living at home either looked for work -- even while taking classes -- or helped out at home (lawn care, gardening, animal husbandry, cooking, cleaning, childcare, etc.) or in the family business.  
  • If they were making money, they contributed something to the family income...willingly and with a smile. They either gave a set amount, a percentage of take-home pay, or provided for some of the expenses such as phone, Internet, rent/house payment, utilities, etc.
  • Even if the kids were working or taking classes, Mom and Dad determined what part of the housework and home maintenance load each family member helped with on a regular basis with no excuse for not keeping one's personal space in order.
  • Though it was understood there are more freedoms in adulthood, there were still some house rules which were non-negotiable.[1]
  • Grown children at home took part in family devotions when they were home for the evening, except when sleeping because of shift work.
These are only the basics and would apply to anyone coming to live in our home, including aging parents, married children and their families who were in dire straights, or anyone else the Lord put in our path to help by moving in with us. However, though economic reasons for allowing adult children to stay at home are good enough, there's no reason why they can't stay home before marriage as long as they continue to operate as a vital part of the family. 

I truly believe this has always been the biblical and pre-industrial model and is the one most suited to human well being. Won't you consider it?

If you have or have had adult children living at home, what has and has not worked for you?