The Vital Role of Work in Raising an American Adult

On several occasions we have mentioned and even recommended Ben Sasse's new book The Vanishing American Adult. Hugh Whelchel in his article below gives us another reason this book should be on our summer reading list. There are important ideas here for all of us. This book identifies a reality whose impact we have yet to feel the full import of, but there is no doubt it is coming and that it is not good. Given the widespread publicity of the book, many of you may have read several articles, seen multiple interviews, and perhaps even finished the book. The breadth of Sasse's content merits another few minutes of your time to read Whelchel's take.


Adulting (v): to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9 to 5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown-ups.

Is Becoming an Adult an Optional “Activity”?

Over the last couple of years, the new word “adulting” has taken the social media world by storm.  Search “#adulting” and you will see comments like: “Today I set up and went to a dental appointment without either of my parents. IT was terrifying. #adulting,” or “today i made payments on my credit cards, paid off a loan, and cancelled my hulu subscription before the free trial ended #adulting.”

The word has become so popular it received a nomination from the American Dialect Society for the most creative word of 2015.

Not everyone is excited about this new addition to our lexicon or our American experience. For example, Canadian Oxford Dictionary named “adulting” the most annoying word of 2015 right after “millennial.” A recent episode of Morning Edition on NPR described an Adulting School (teaching young adults how to be grown-ups) that has drawn considerable “criticism for its perceived coddling.”

Independence and the Role of Work

This trend may be symptomatic of a greater problem. Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen adolescence become more protracted. Current 18- to 34-year-old are moving more slowly toward independent adulthood.

Last year, a Pew Research Center study revealed a new trend:

Hugh Welchel