“Youth Away From Home,” Ensign, May 1971, 64
One of the goals of parents should be to prepare their children for the day when they will be on their own, away from the home they have always known. The separation may occur when children marry, go away to attend school, serve as missionaries or in the military, or leave home to find employment.
Whether a youth away from home experiences success or failure will be directly related to his planning, preparation, and follow-through. Parents should feel a keen responsibility in this, and preparation should be a lifelong process, but there will also be a number of steps to consider prior to the youth’s departure.
Beginning at an early age, children should be taught to handle money and given increasing responsibility not only for spending money for recreational purposes but also for buying clothes, paying for school expenses, and other needs. Young people should be taught to establish a budget and then be made responsible for living within it. They will quickly learn real values if they have to do without extra money when they exhaust their budget funds or if they retain surpluses when they spend less than the allotted amounts.
It will prove valuable to orient children on the kinds of expenses involved in maintaining a household. Both boys and girls will also benefit from experience in cooking, washing clothes, and cleaning house.
Learning the value and joy of honest labor is crucial. One of the greatest complaints made by employers regarding youth entering the labor market is that they simply do not know how to work. While the kinds of work experiences a young person has are significant, it is also important for him to have learned to persevere in any work situation and to conscientiously give his best effort. Other important traits to acquire are punctuality, good grooming, and respect for authority.
Once youth are on their own, they must make the decisions regarding Church standards. If they have learned while still at home to take personal initiative for Church attendance, choosing good companions, and abiding by Church standards, they will likely continue no matter where they go. They also need to be self-starters in prayer.
It is usually difficult for parents to have children leave home. When the issue does arise, it is important for parents to be ready to talk it over carefully, discussing at length the implications of such a course of action. Parents and youth should listen to each other, considering the pros and cons from both points of view. Disagreements should be anticipated and talked over in a nonargumentive manner. This discussion can become a very meaningful experience for family members.
It is also usually best to try not to reach a decision immediately. Tentative conclusions should be reconsidered after all concerned have made it a matter of earnest prayer.
Once the decision has been made for the youth to leave home, he should feel as much encouragement and support as possible from his parents. There will be a much greater potential for success if he has their cooperation and blessing. He should also anticipate the possibility of both success and failure and how to react to them.
It is desirable for youth to locate as close to home as possible for the kinds of opportunities they are seeking. A close-to-home location makes it easier for parents and youth to maintain contact through weekend and holiday visits and telephone calls.
The question of location should also take into consideration the kinds of employment opportunities offered and proximity to a ward or branch of the Church.
When deciding on living quarters, considerations should include proximity to work, church, shopping, and recreational facilities. The type of neighborhood as well as the caliber of other building residents is also important. Roommates with compatible standards will provide much-needed companionship as well as share in the expenses.
Good housing is usually quite expensive, and there are extra expenses in getting settled. And since there is usually a time lag between leaving home, obtaining employment, and receiving the first paycheck, a good rule to follow is to have in advance finances to last at least two months.
A young person planning to leave home should counsel with his bishop in making this important decision. The home-ward bishop can give advice and make suggestions that will be valuable both in reaching decisions and in making preparations. Knowing that a youth in his ward is leaving, he can arrange to keep in contact through correspondence. Letters from home can exert a powerful influence.
Parents will be wise to keep their home-ward bishop informed of the status of their children who are away. They should also become acquainted with their son’s or daughter’s new bishop either by personal visit or by letter and make periodic inquiries as to how their absent family member is progressing in church activities.
Unfortunately many youth who leave their homes to seek employment have inadequate preparation and become vulnerable to evil influences. Becoming discouraged because they fail to find satisfactory work and a suitable place to live, they may become susceptible to questionable companions and environments.
Recognizing the serious problems that can be associated with youth away from home, the Church has a program to help them avoid the potential evils. The responsibility for a youth who is living away from home rests with the youth, his parents, and his bishop.
In the Church’s program, a young person leaving home informs his home-ward bishop of his new location. The bishop then completes a youth-away-from-home card and sends it to the Church Social Services Department, which determines who the new bishop is and contacts him. The new bishop, having been alerted to the youth’s arrival, can then fellowship him into the ward. He can often offer assistance in locating suitable housing and roommates and may even have some valuable suggestions in relation to employment opportunities.