Our oldest son Joshua, at the ripe old age of 24, has finished his undergraduate degree, his graduate degree, all of his CPA exams (which are the accounting world’s equivalent to bar exams) and has landed a promising job with a prestigious accounting firm in the Los Angeles area. This is a great accomplishment for such a young man. But what makes Joshua’s accomplishments even sweeter is something truly momentous that happened this past weekend.
Joshua paid off the last of his student loans!
Yes, at 24 our son has completed all of his education and career preparation and is debt free! Whoohoo!
But how did he do it? How has he accomplished so much at such a young age?
Part of the answer is that he made the decision not to attend expensive schools, and part of it is the fact that he is incredibly hard working and driven. But there is also another factor in the equation.
Joshua has chosen to live at home.
Our society has convinced us that once our kids get into that 18-20 range it is time for them to move out and live on their own. Our culture makes the assumption that any young adult who lives with mom and dad is immature, irresponsible, and tied to his or her mother’s apron strings.
I beg to differ.
While I realize that there are young adults who just sit at home and play video games all day long and sponge off of mom and dad, there are also young adults who are educated, hardworking, and down right smart in their decision to live with mom and dad. In fact, I believe there are three significant benefits for our adult children staying in the nest.
The most glaring advantage is financial. With college costs often equaling that of a down payment for a Kardashian mansion, young people are graduating from college owing tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.
During a conversation with a nursing student, she confided to me that she would be in her forties before her student loans were finally paid off. And she is not alone. One study says, “The standard repayment plan for federal student loans puts borrowers on a 10-year track to pay off their debt, but research has shown the average bachelor’s degree holder takes 21 years to pay off his or her loans.” (US News and World Report)
Our oldest chose to earn his undergraduate degree online and only had to take on one small loan to cover the costs. After completing his degree he went to a local private college for his graduate program, taking on another small loan for the remainder of his tuition and the cost of taking the examinations to become a CPA. When he graduated he busted his proverbial behind to land a good job and once landed, has put almost every penny of his earnings into paying off those loans. Hence the final result of being debt free at twenty-four.
Opportunities now abound for my son. He can save for a house. He can put away money to go to law school or to get a doctorate if he chooses. He can travel. He can give to causes that are important to him. He can even turn the parent/child table and help out his parents! (Yay!) And he will be fully prepared to support a family when he decides to get married. All because he still lives at home.
The next significant benefit is accountability. Let’s face it. There are lots of temptations in this big bad world. And all of us, whether young or old, need accountability. Living at home provides the best accountability. No one loves you like your mom and dad and brothers and sisters. No one cares for the welfare of your soul like your mom and dad and brothers and sisters. And no one will tell you like it is like you own family. While sometimes it feels annoying, the reality is that your family provides accountability like no other resource. This is especially true for young people who come from Christian homes.
Living on your own opens all kinds of doors for sin. Friends who like to drink a little too much feel much freer to come by your apartment with a couple bottles of Jack Daniels than they would to your parent’s home. That attractive girl is far more tempted to spend the night at your bachelor pad than she would be in your bedroom at your mom’s and dad’s house. Making the choice to place restraints on your sinful nature is a sign of maturity rather than immaturity.
And God’s word says a great deal about the importance of accountability. Consider these passages of scripture:
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:1-3)
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Eccl. 4)
An additional reason for living at home is simply the love and support provided by our families. When God gives a man and woman a child, He is saying that He intends for those two people and that child and any siblings to be important and valuable assets in each other’s lives. He created us to work together, play together, encourage, comfort and love one another.
Family should be a blessing. I love my kids. I enjoy being with them and they enjoy being with me. Sure, we have our spats and irritations, but they don’t last long because now that my kids are young adults we have become friends. We are one another’s support system. This doesn’t mean my kids are mama’s boys or a mama’s girl. We simply like each other and want to help each other through life’s joys, difficulties, and sorrows. That’s what family does, or at least should do.
People who support launching argue that living away from home helps young people grow up because they learn to take care of themselves. Supporters of the theory say it is important for young adults to learn to do their own laundry, cook their own meals, take care of their own car repairs, handle their own finances, and that those things are learned living away from home. But living at home doesn’t prohibit a young adult from doing those things. I know because I lived at home until I was thirty-one and I handled all of those tasks and more, on my own. I did my own laundry. I prepared my own meals. I took my car in for repairs. I bought my own car, my own bedroom furniture, my parent’s living room furniture, and even gave my parents money each month to help them out. I paid for my car insurance, health care costs, clothing, entertainment, hair care costs (which were quite costly,) etc. I did all those things without having to go into debt.
Doing your own laundry does not make you an adult. Preparing your own meals does mean you are a grown-up. Anyone can learn those skills in a few easy lessons. The idea that performing those simple tasks makes you a grown up is the philosophy of the secular world. A man or woman is far more of an adult who recognizes the wisdom of saving money, maintaining accountability, helping his or her family, and enjoying the people he or she loves most in the world and who return that love.
I understand that some home environments are not ideal and that some families are troublesome, making living at home a miserable experience. There are genuine circumstances where living apart from one’s family is warranted. But many young people have simply fallen into our culture’s lie that tells them that to be an adult they need to live away from home.
Family is a gift from God. We have to get rid of this notion that adulthood is achieved through living apart from one’s family. Looking to the beginning of God’s word, to Genesis 2:24, it is interesting to note that it says a man is to “leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife.” Kind of sounds to me like that man is still living at home until he takes the plunge into marriage. I’m not saying that the Bible says a man can never have a reason to move out from his family home, but it sure makes you think.
So to those who are still persist in believing that living on your own makes you an adult, all I can say is…
… here’s coupon for some Tide.