Parenting Young Adults

GeniY posterThe following is lifted from One Passion One Devotion‘s blog. It’s from a discussion by Tim Elmore regarding Generation iY – and how there is a huge increase in the percentage of people in the 25-and-younger adult bracket. It’s a great, quick series of ideas on how to approach today’s young adults in the way that is most effective, considering how quickly so many grow up, these days.

If you’re a young adult reading this, realize that we “old folks” are trying to learn, too. 🙂  I myself am the parent of one young adult and one pre-teen. It’s an unusual place to be for me. How do we lead, teach, and help those who can help themselves in so many ways?

A quote from Elmore:

FACT: Today, almost half of the world’s population is 25 years old or younger.

I just read the numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. The population of kids worldwide from birth to college age is 2,987,230,232—that’s nearly three billion people. I’ve said it already—there is a worldwide swelling of young people. Admittedly, some European countries and even Japan face an opposite problem—not enough kids—but much of the rest of the world is quite different. While people do live longer, the birthrate is passing older generations—in some countries at an alarming rate. The average age in India (the second largest nation in the world) is mid-twenties. Many people in African nations won’t even see their 30th birthday due to the AIDS pandemic. These youth serve as teachers, nurses and postmasters long before they’re ready because elders are gone.


Changing Our Minds About Generation iY

So, how should we lead these young people? May I talk straight? We must master the art of mentoring them and leading them. Let me suggest six shifts we must make:

1. Don’t think CONTROL, think CONNECT.

Often our ambition as a parent or leader is to seize control. Studies show that parents who over-program their child’s schedule often breed kids who rebel as teens. Instead, wise leaders work to connect with them. Why? Because once we connect, we build a bridge of relationship that can bear the weight of truth. We earn our right to influence them.

2. Don’t think INFORM, think INTERPRET.

This is the first generation of kids that don’t need adults to get information. It’s coming at them 24/7. What they need from us is interpretation. Their knowledge has no context. We must help them make sense of all they know as they build a wise and healthy worldview.

3. Don’t think ENTERTAIN, think EQUIP.

I’ve seen parents who are consumed with entertaining their child. I know teachers who approach their classrooms the same way. A better perspective may be: how can I equip my young person for the future? If I give them relevant tools to succeed, they’ll stay engaged. Happiness is a by-product. True satisfaction comes from growth.

4. Don’t think “DO IT FOR THEM” think “HELP THEM DO IT.”

Adults have been committed to giving kids a strong self-esteem for thirty years now. According to the American Psychological Association, healthy and robust self-esteem actually comes from achievement not merely affirmation. We lead for the long-term not the short term. Sure it’s quicker to do it yourself—but it’s better to transfer a skill.

5. Don’t think IMPOSE, think EXPOSE.

When adults become scared a kid is falling behind, we tend to impose a rule or a behavior on them. While mandatory conduct is part of life, if kids feel forced to do it; they usually don’t take ownership of it; it’s your idea not theirs. Why not think “expose” instead of impose. Show them something. Give them an opportunity they can’t pass up.

6. Don’t think PROTECT, think PREPARE.

Adults [are] paranoid about the safety of our kids. Sadly, in our obsession over safety, we’ve failed to prepare them for adulthood. Instead of fearing for them, it’s better to recall your entrance into adulthood and discuss what you learned that helped you succeed. The greatest gift a parent can give their child is the ability to get along without them.

7. Don’t think LECTURE, think LAB.

When young people do wrong, we’re predisposed to lecture them. While it’s a quick way to transmit an idea, it’s not the best way to transform a life. We must create experiences from which we can process truths—like science class—a lab with a lecture. They’re not looking for a sage on the stage with a lecture but a guide on the side with an experience.


If you’re a 25-and-younger adult, what do you think about these ideas?  Do you have some of your own? 


  1. Jess Molly (aka jmolly) · April 9, 2013

    I think this approach is valuable, but I’d have liked a ‘how-to’ example to be added to each suggestion. As a GenXer, for example, I was raised on lectures,. I’d love an example of how to turn a lecture into a lab. I think my upbringing was very old-fashioned, and my mother spent a lot of time talking to me about life. In turn, I’ve done that with my kids, who are able to hold impressive conversations with any adult out there. It amazes me how many kids come in my house who can’t even say ‘hi’ to an adult. It also amazes me to watch people text each other at a special occasion in a restaurant or at a party. Sometimes people even text another person in the room. What ever happened to talking to people?

    • Sandi · April 9, 2013

      I think how-to’s are important. lol It IS amusing to note that he “lectured” in this post…but then he’s speaking to us who learned that way, yeah?

      It’s weird to me how dependent we’ve all become on the idea of immediate and constant availability.

      • Jess Molly (aka jmolly) · April 9, 2013

        We have made ourselves so available that we question delaying answering a message while a living, breathing person is asking for our attention.

        I recently spent big bucks to take my daughters to a concert given by one of their favourite bands. Instead of fully focusing their attention on the concert, they spent their time recording it on their cell phones (watching it mostly through their tiny screens). It’s a new world.

        That is amusing, Sandi. Maybe he could do a lab on his post. 😉

  2. Cynthia Quiroga · April 9, 2013

    Very cool. Good news for those of with young adult, teen, and elementary age children! Love, love, love #2!! They are all good thoughts and ideas. Would love to see examples of the “LAB” idea.

    • Sandi · April 9, 2013

      Number two struck me as well. Son the Younger learns all kinds of stuff about which I have no knowledge (fire alarm workings and the types of car wash systems being current obsessions) and it’s mind blowing.

      A lab example would be good. 🙂

  3. WyndyDee · April 10, 2013

    Reblogged this on Wyndy Dee and commented:
    I have two living in my house, 20 and 16, with another married with a three-year-old…it is tough out there for them…so much competition for everything. They need our support, and they need to grow up and be the leaders they are meant to be. IMHO

    • Sandi · April 10, 2013

      Hear, hear. 🙂

  4. Jack Flacco · April 10, 2013

    Great set of tips. My kids are fairly self-sufficient. As soon as they turned seven, we taught them to do their laundry. A decade later, they’re proficient at it. We’ve always believed in having them decide for themselves what they’d like to do with their lives. We’re guides, leading, never pushing. They’ve been amazing making great decisions on their own and we’ve found it’s worked for us.

    • Sandi · April 11, 2013

      LOL Ten years to gain laundry proficiency? 😉

      From what I’ve read, your home is very purposeful. And that’s a good thing.

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