A while back I wrote about Cheri Frame, an educational consultant who runs a business called “Credits Before College“. Her goal is to make sure that kids are getting out of college without debt so that they are financially prepared to enter the work force or even go into ministry if they so desire.
The concept of getting kids in and out of college without debt is wonderful and I know I would have loved to have had this inside scoop when I was headed off to college. This line of thinking also made me ponder some of the arrangements we can utilize before our kids set out on their own.
When I went off to college, I had the idea that once I turned 18 I would be “turned loose.” In other words, when I turned 18, I was an adult and therefore officially on my own. Upon graduating from college (with student loan debt), my first job took me to one of the most expensive areas of the country to live in, New York City. I made a paltry salary, which barely covered my rent and utilities. I pretty much had to rely on my credit card to meet basic needs. To me, that debt was a huge black cloud hanging over my head and I had no foreseeable way of paying it down. My husband had a similar experience. We have talked about how this impacted our young lives as we started out and that, if at all possible, we’d like our children to have a different experience.
There is a book that has been around for quite some time called “Leaving the Light On”, by Gary Smalley & John Trent. My husband and I read it to gain insight into creating a home for our children that was inviting and welcoming. We want our children to feel like they can still come home, even after they turn 18. We realize this is counter to the way we were raised and maybe even a bit controversial today, but it actually reverts to a time when men and women did not leave home until they were married. The reason it looks different to us today is because men and women are not getting married after high school graduation anymore. They are heading off to college, then living on their own for years before marriage. Unfortunately between college debt and independent living, the debt spiral usually kicks in. What if we could provide them with a more secure start in life?
Naturally, I am an advocate for education and I hope my kids will pursue college. But, my husband and I are not opposed to them earning their degrees close to home, even continuing to live at home while they are in school, if it will help defray the cost of their education. Once they have earned a degree, ideally they will be able to find a job and establish themselves in the work force. However, having a job and earning a salary high enough to support oneself do not always go hand-in-hand. Perhaps by allowing them to stay home a little longer, at least until they are able to cover their necessary expenses on their own, they can be better prepared for the transition between adulthood and true independence.
Having adult children live at home can be challenging. It can also be a great blessing as you get to know the young adult emerging from the cocoon of childhood.
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord; great shall be the peace of your children.” ISAIAH 54:13