Beating the Boomerang: Launching Teenagers Into Successful Adulthood

Beating the Boomerang: Launching Teenagers Into Successful Adulthood

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Beating the Boomerang: Launching Teenagers Into Successful Adulthood
December 11, 2017

Combat regression by helping your teenager develop into a curious, mature young adult.

Teenagers today have become known as the “Boomerang Generation” — a reference to young adults heading off to college or entering the workforce only to “boomerang” back home to mom and dad’s basement. The more technical term, regression, describes the process wherein a person returns to the behaviors and habits of their younger selves.

There are numerous factors that contribute to teenagers “boomeranging” after high school or college — from an uncertain job market to social media addiction to mental health issues to helicopter parenting. Below we’ll dive into some of the primary contributors to this phenomenon, and how parents can help set their children up for success as an independent adult.

1. Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parents are so named because they “hover” over their children, like — you guessed it — a helicopter. We all know one. Heck, maybe you are one. But while this parenting style has its merits — who can blame you for caring too much about your child’s success? — it also makes teenagers less capable of forming decisions on their own. When young adults don’t have the agency to make mistakes and learn from them, they are more likely to feel adrift during young adulthood.

2. A Rise In Mental Health Issues

The number of teens who reported a major depressive episode (MDE) in the previous 12 months rose by a shocking 37 percent in 2016. The rise of mental health issues among teens, including addiction, anxiety, attrition, depression, and self-harm, has made it more challenging to smoothly transition into adulthood. Without the proper tools to address and cope with mental health issues, young adults revert to the behaviors that characterized childhood, a time when they felt safe and secure.

3. Lack of Connection In The Digital Age

Teenage years are inevitably rife with social drama, as young people learn to establish boundaries and create healthy relationships. The unfettered popularity of social media platforms has only complicated this issue, as teens must now also navigate the murky social norms unique to digital relationships.

“If kids aren’t getting enough practice relating to people and getting their needs met in person and in real time, many of them will grow up to be adults who are anxious about our species’ primary means of communication—talking,” writes the Child Mind Institute’s Rachel Ehmke.

Because social media is a relatively new phenomenon, many parents struggle with setting limits on screen time and encouraging face-to-face connection. But it’s essential that teenagers learn how to communicate effectively with their peers offline in academic, social, and professional settings.

Setting Students Up For Success

It’s easy for teenagers to feel lost in large high schools with big classes. Without individual attention, mental health issues go unaddressed and fester, social stress takes center stage, parents panic, and many students become overwhelmed to the point that they fall behind academically and socially. When things aren’t going well at school, teenagers can quickly retreat into their phones, close themselves off, and give up.

Oliverian seeks to rewrite these patterns by giving students individualized attention in a small, supportive, but socially challenging setting. At Oliverian, we strike a balance between autonomy and support, giving our students room to make important decisions but stepping in to help them learn from good choices and mistakes alike. This approach encourages students to discover and be themselves, feel comfortable in their own skin, and leave high school equipped for success in the real world — whatever path they chose to take.