When should children leave the nest? Is there a time when they should be kicked out?
Today we prolong the development of our children with artificial measures called a period of youth, and dependency on family caused by things such as higher education. In Biblical times children often did not move out of the family circle until they married if they were girls, (but remember they were often married as early as 14) and sometimes not at all when they were boys. But boys who remained at home did have a separation that allowed for them to develop as adults. We have a need for developing within each family means of allowing children to grow into adulthood so that the transition into an independent life is possible.
Children should be trained from the beginning of their lives to obey rules and take responsibility that increases with age. As they develop they should be required to work within the home and when they become of an age encouraged to seek reasonable work opportunities outside the home. Unfortunately, our society is increasingly restrictive of the opportunities our children can be afforded for work, making it necessary that we be creative in order to get around the follies of current law until common sense once again prevails.
One of the problems that causes friction in a marriage is when children should leave home. I remember an account of a family that had two sons. The first son, who had always been active working outside the home from the age of eleven left home immediately upon graduating from High School. He joined the military. The second son, who had been somewhat involved outside the home, but had also been involved in bands playing for dances and such, worked for a couple of years after graduating and lived at home. Then he too joined the military and left home. When the second son left, the mother turned to her husband and said, "I hope your satisfied, you've run him off too." That remark caused a scar on her husband that haunted him the rest of his life and affected their relationship from that point on. The reality of the children leaving home was that they had gone through a natural period of growth and departing from the house of their parents had been a legitimate transitional step in their lives. The truth is that today for children to stay at home and remain dependent on the parents is an unnatural state of affairs.
Children are often a source of friction in a marriage. From conflicts concerning differing opinions about child rearing to problems born of one parent elevating the child into the position in their regard where their mate should be, there is a great potential for trouble in marriage centered around children. People have a tendency to bring opinions formed about child rearing from their own family background into their marriages, and this varies even when people marry within the same culture. This problem is made worse when people do not follow God's plan for leadership within the home. One thing is very certain and that is parents should move in one accord in child rearing and making decisions concerning children and differences should be resolved outside of the child's presence. Failure to do this creates bitter feelings in the marriage and emotional conflicts within the children that will likely affect not only their own child rearing experiences but even the marriage they establish after they become adults.
Biblically parents have a requirement of Scripture to provide for their children to some degree. Some of the things that might extend a need for provision within the home is when children have educational or medical needs that keep them home beyond what is reasonable for a person who is becoming mature. There are some situations that need to be considered where even these causes are insufficient to justify remaining at home:
1. I think that a child who has a prolonged illness resulting in disability might have a need to remain in their parents home, but in situations where they are able to care for their own needs and have the financial wherewithal to provide for their own needs, they should move into a home that is their own. I have had parents argue that because the child's financial circumstances are less than their own in such instances precludes the child being independent. But I would point out that it is unusual for children to start out in equal or better circumstances than their parents knew apart from the benefits offered by industrialization.
2. There are times when children with prolonged mental or medical problems would do better in institutions. I have seen some situations where children constituted a real threat to the health and welfare of the parents and others where parents wanted to care for their children but the amount of care they could provide was insufficient to meet the need. When any of these conditions apply children need to leave home and live in a more appropriate environment. These types of movings are often difficult, but we should realize that leaving home is always a life crisis, just like the first day of school, the first day of college, the first date, the marriage, and so forth.
3. I am quite certain that I have not addressed all circumstances under this category but my main goal is to supply the reader some parameters under which to make valid decisions concerning their own situation.
Next I want to point out that I do believe that there are some times when children should be pushed out of the home:
1. The first of these is when a child is reluctant to move out on their own and there is no reason why they should not. A child who is financially independent or even haphazard about sticking with employment, haviing reached a mature age (between 19 & 21) who has not taken the intiative to establish a life apart from their parents needs a nudge out of the nest.
2. A child that is unruly and does not obey the rules of the home no longer needs to remain within the house. The Bible marks such children as worthy of death. When a person is in a household that belongs to another they have an obligation to follow the rules of that house or depart. There are organizations in the United States that can be turned to for help with unruly children that have not yet become of age.
3. Adult children are still under obligation to the parents to meet some responsibilities when they live in the home. Such things as saying where they will be and when they will be in are things mature adults say to each other when they live in the same house as a matter of courtesy. Helping out with the cost of household operation is another responsibility that an adult child should meet. If a child will not do these things they need to depart.
I have not cited Scripture in writing this response but the Word of God has been much in my mind as I composed my response. Meditating on these things I have taken two days in writing the answer to these two questions.
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Buchanan, Georgia 30113