Recently, my wife and I watched the movie Hook, the 1992 version of the famous Peter Pan story where boys living in Neverland never grow up. We joked that we could see plenty of similarities in today’s young people, minus the living in trees and warring with pirates. Society glamorizes having a free spirit, overindulging, and doing whatever makes us feel good. It’s normal to live at home with Mom and Dad, searching for your identity (and a job) in the big bad world, well into your twenties and thirties. And despite a lack of contribution to the household, you probably still afford that slick smartphone to update your Facebook status throughout the day.
Times have definitely changed. By the time my grandparents had turned twenty, they were married and supporting a family with money they had earned. They would define “growing up” as taking responsibility for their livelihood—being self-supporting. Their priority was to provide.
Has “growing up” taken on new meaning today, or is it just no longer a priority? We look the part with fancy degrees and opinions on everything; but underneath this facade, many of our Generation X and Y youths are perpetual dependents.
I believe “growing up” isn’t an age we achieve, but rather a level of responsibility we accept. I’d like to focus on three areas where we can each make an impact.
- WORK—Take care of yourself and work hard.
Some 85% of all college graduates in the United States move back home with their parents. Interestingly, the demographic with the most video game players is males age eighteen to thirty-four.
When I was twenty-one coming out of college, I didn’t have the luxury of moving back home with Mom. I didn’t think to play video games either. All I thought about was working hard morning and night. I worked at least eighty hours per week from twenty-two to twenty-five years old, and as a result I was able to retire my mom. During those years, life was tough and seemed unfair in comparison to my peers’ lives. I didn’t have a safety net. But today I’m grateful for that experience because it shaped my mindset to be strong, dependable, and independent. I didn’t have a safety net, but I also didn’t have a crutch.
Have faith that if you work hard your life will be abundant.
- FAMILY—Make a commitment.
When I married my wife, Diana, I made a lifelong vow. When we decide to have children, we will be making another lifelong commitment (or at least eighteen years at a minimum!). There is no turning back or changing our minds, and there is a wonderful sense of security in that way of thinking!
I see many young adults today that view commitment as a negative; they live by a code of “let’s give love a try with the option to change our minds later.” Make a commitment. Surprisingly, there is freedom with commitment. You look forward with clarity and waste no time looking back.
- COMMUNITY—Give back.
Part of growing up is choosing to help others. Instead of only taking care of ourselves, we should volunteer our time and resources to help those in need. By doing so, we’re reminded of what we have in our own lives rather than what we don’t have. We also see how our gifts impact others and how much value we can add to their lives.
When I was twelve years old and my single mother became permanently disabled, the women’s organization at our church brought us dinner to help my mom feed me and my brothers. It was a simple act of charity that ultimately shaped my life. I am thankful for that memory and humbled to be able to pay goodwill forward today.
Remember: “Where much is given, much is expected.” The fact that you can even read this right now means that you are in the top half of the world. If you have shelter, transportation, food, water, and any money you are in the top 10% of the world. These blessings come with responsibilities, and responsibility is in and of itself a blessing.
Even with all of Neverland’s allure—eternal youth, heroic victories, the ability to fly—Peter Pan chose to grow up in the end and leave Neverland. His kids needed him, and he wanted that responsibility. He may have conquered the pirates, but his greatest victory was finding his courage and reconnecting with what matters most: his family.