Does Peter Pan Have Only Two Choices?

The Peter Pan Syndrome used to be a social stigma, a sign of immaturity and a refusal to grow up. (And a refusal for parents to insist on growing up.)

It’s called the “Peter Pan Syndrome”: adults moving back in with their parents.

But today’s different. After decades of being taught that a child’s most credible ambition was to get a job, we’ve come to a time in American where there aren’t many jobs. It appears that Peter Pan’s two choices are (1) get a job or (2) move back home with the folks.

Here’s a long infograph sent to me from a friend. It’s pretty depressing. Why? Because it lists all the reasons college students are moving back home with their parents. As if they have no other choice. I have a third choice for students. First, the infograph, and then my third option below it:

Pretty pathetic, I know. But before you give up on young people altogether, allow me to give them a third choice: self-employment.

“But, Jeub, that isn’t sensical!” you might say. “They need to learn a good work ethic first, get some money in the bank, learn how to be an employee first.”

Perhaps you’re right, but the world is a much different place than it used to be. Just look at the information above. Car washes and McDonalds are even tough to get into nowadays. Student loan debt has increased $5k since Obama took office (BTW, wasn’t nationalizing student loans supposed to take care of that?).

More college graduates are waiting tables than employed in their profession they were trained for. So, why not start a business?

Do you agree or disagree? Post below your thoughts. I would very much like to hear from dissenters, though.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • RickStevens

    There are two great (about 20 minutes each) videos from the TED conferences in 2006 and 2010 which speak to the point about why those graduates don’t think much about being entrepreneurs. The first one from Ken Robinson ( talks a great deal about how schools “institutionalize” students and suck the creativity out of them. The second one from Cameron Herold ( also speaks to how creativity and the desire to be independent thinkers is stifled. Both are very compelling speakers with a great deal of insight into what I think is ultimately a cause of the “back to home” syndrome that many of these graduates are suffering from. When your entire life in the school system is built around someone else taking care of you, what impetus do you have for actually going out and taking responsibility for yourself?

    • I saw Sir Ken Robinson’s video a couple weeks ago — actually wrote up a post for later. I agree, it was convicting! And I’m pleased to see it at TED’s most popular video ever. Your question is one that I believe frees people, once they realize the obvious answer.

  • It is certainly a new day and age. I am so grateful for the foresight of my grandparents. Because of their willingness to save for my brother and I, I was able to graduate from Bethel 18 years ago with a total last payment (made immediately after graduation) of only $530. On the other hand, I also CHOSE to work in waitressing jobs despite the fact that I had a degree in Business Managment. Now, I have the best (though non-paying) job of being mom and teacher to my eight kids. 🙂 I certainly don’t envy the many people (several close friends) who are unable to find employment.

  • Ya know, I wouldn’t have been prepared to start a business after college. I believed that I needed training for any career I was going to have, and hadn’t yet learned how to study independently (pretty sad for 23 years old!). I was shocked to realize half way through my senior year of college that upon graduation I would STILL not be prepared to work in my “field.” It was very disheartening. I’m thankful that I got married and that my husband went on to grad school. Now, at 29, I’m able to think entrepreneurially and have started a business. I’m homeschooling my children primarily so that they learn how to LEARN, and so that they are able to pursue the interests that will lead to fulfilling careers.

    • Your comment gives me a thought. Maybe colleges should be teaching people to start a business. I think they don’t, but that’s another post.

      • Yes, it would be nice to have any kind of career prep class as a gen ed course. I didn’t take a single class in four years that helped me transition to the adult world. I went to a private liberal arts college. Could be different at a state or tech school…