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And a Time to Refrain
Photo:Alex Brosa
Both of my grandfathers immigrated to the United States from Greece. They arrived here while both were in their mid-teens. By the time they were 25, one was about to become an education professional, having earned a Master's degree at an American University. The other had seen combat as an American soldier in France in World War I, and was settling into a career as a cook.

By the time my father was 25, he too was a veteran. Drafted at 18, he left home to serve in the Signal Corps in World War II, and used the GI Bill to get a college education. He was starting his career as an architect.

By the time I was 25, I had been married four years, and was working at my first professional job as an engineer. I had left home at 20, a year before I got married.

By the time my oldest son was 25 he was . . .  still living at home. Well, that is not quite fair to him, because two days after his 25th birthday he moved out to start his first professional job—also as an engineer.

As an engineer, I do trend lines. I am not sure I like the one I see here. If this trend holds steady, my sons’ children will be leaving the nest around the time of their thirtieth birthdays. “What is wrong with that?” some may say.
I see an obvious one. My sons may have their still-not-quite-adult children living with them when my sons are in their sixties! 

Off on Their Own

It is not really that, though. It is that children really do not become adults until they are off on their own, making their own decisions about the little things of everyday life. Knowing that you have to take time to plan and make your own meals or go hungry; that clean laundry does not miraculously appear on the foot of your bed unless you wash it; and that utilities have an inconvenient way of not going away unless you pay those bills—all of these things tend to focus one’s thinking. Especially after the first time you forget.

My middle son, now off at college, is living on his own in an apartment for the first time. The change over just two months is remarkable. He is more self-reliant, and more inclined to do what needs doing without being asked first. It is more than that. Our children are programmed to be productive—to produce, to contribute.

No matter your age, you do not really grow up until you making your own way through the world. People are physically and mentally mature by their late teens. Preserving your child’s adolescence past that age, no matter how personally satisfying, does them a disservice. Independence has its dignity and worth.

Our children are happier knowing that they can stand on their own feet, and that they can achieve through their own efforts. As hard as it may seem, let your children go.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing"  (Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 3:5).

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By Mark N. Lardas, copyright 2007, Mark N. Lardas, all rights reserved. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®.

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