This past week Will Ferrell’s movie, Step Brothers, was on TNT. You may or may not have seen the movie but the story revolves around the antics, behavior, and immaturity of two 40 year old step brothers who have failed to grow up and take a responsible and self-sufficient place in society.
Although the movie is an exaggeration of a societal layer, the reality is that there is indeed a growing segment of college and post-college age adults who are facing the great recession and are forced to come back home. The shift in the financial uncertainties and competitive job market has made independence a challenge. The growth of this trend continues and has given rise to the term, “Boomerang Kids.”
Homes with Boomerang Kids face many challenges. Parents who prepared and dreamed of an empty nest now wrestle with feelings of concern for their grown children and their future. Boomerang Kids themselves struggle with internal conflict over failure, the future, and societal judgement.
What does this mean to the church?
First and foremost, Boomerang Kids are not irresponsible, freeloading brats who lack motivation and goals. Recent studies reveal that 89% of Boomerang Kids pay rent and a share of living expenses. Most Boomerang Kids are working in conjunction with their parents on a plan to independence and saving money during their time at home. This is a big segment of society. 21.6% of adults in 2010 alone, lived with their parents. There is also tremendous opportunity to partner with families helping them think through boundaries, action plans, and communication. For youth workers there is evidence that your investment in a student may extend itself far beyond the teenage years in respect to guidance, counsel, and presence.
Lastly, the church needs a serious wake up call to the silent shift in extended adolescence, Boomerang Kids, and Digital Native behavior. The transition period between high school graduation and independence on all fronts is fraught with tremendous emotional angst, instability, and economic upheaval. Having no response to this specific generation in a concentrated community designed for them is the leading contributor to the reason why their generation leaves the church. The season awaiting them after high school is completely foreign and overwhelming. It’s far beyond the capability of the student director to adequately prepare them for alone and absorbing them into the collective church through the main gathering is an inadequate and outdated response.