December 2, 2005
December 2, 2005


More and more parents are flocking to my office complaining that their adult children are refusing to work, refusing to attend college, and refusing to even clean up after themselves. Not only that, but in cases where there are children these “Kids” expect the grandparents to feed, care and baby-sit their offspring at no cost of time, effort or money from the biological Kid/parent. Parents call the office and want to drop off their underage delinquents to get “fixed” as if they were some kind of broken appliance. Upon my insistence that they must come in and present the problem and be part of the solution, the majority hang up and call elsewhere. I can only hope that other counselors do not fall for this lack of parental responsibility.

These parents are immaturely, vicariously reliving a childhood through their children which they wished for: no responsibility, no rules, no guidelines and every wish to be granted. Instead of preparing the children for life’s disappointments, challenges, and responsibilities; they shield them. The message which the offspring subliminally receive is that you are incapable of handling life. I have to do it for you.

The result is: Business people complain that they can’t get reliable help. A number of business people (and not just in our area, I have spoken to professionals across the country with the same concerns.) have these complaints (about the youth): “If they show up for work,they believe that they have done their job.” “I can’t get them to come to work neat and clean.” “They do not do an accurate job.” “They want continual breaks through out the day.”

We all want to be better parents than our parents. What should that mean? Here are some valuable guide lines so that you can do just that:
1. At age appropriate times, give the child responsibility for him/herself. For example: Let the child do his/her own homework. Suggest a dictionary or other aide, but let the child do it alone. I can remember being anxiety ridden when at about eight years of age they told me to look up a word that I did not know. They ignored my tantrum. I said, “ I don’t know how to use the dictionary.” They said, “You know the alphabet, don’t you?“ Other than guiding, they did not look the word up for me. I became an avid reader. I learned I could do it myself. I learned self- confidence. I learned responsibility. Which do you want to give to your child? Self reliance or a lifetime of fear and self doubt? Are you giving in to your child because you just can’t stand to listen to the whining? Then give a one minute time out. Yes. One minute. Imagine waiting one minute at a traffic light. That is one minute from the time the child stops kicking, whining and otherwise acting up. The one minute begins with composure. Teaching should not be punitive because you are fed up. The discipline should be consistent and persistent. Fifty of the one minute time outs in a day is more effective than one fifty minute time out. Catch the behavior before it builds to complete disruption. Have the children do some kind of exercise such as running a race with each other or who can do the most pushups. The idea is to demonstrate how to control oneself in our stressful society. Parents might join in with the exercise. Laughter is much more effective than screaming. Youngsters bond with the parents and want to please. They will do anything to win your approval if only approval is shown appropriately.

For Adult children living at home, Tough Love Groups are available. Parents! Join them! Parents want the best for their offspring that they invest more into the process of displaying an effort than the child. Step back. It is their activity. Let them do it. If they fail, point out how much they have accomplished. 60 %? Well, then they have only to challenge them selves with 40% more. Challenge can be exciting. Don’t take the process of life’s happiness away from them. They will resist, but when they understand that it is their turn to excel, they will surprise you and themselves by being successful.

Please, if you are a loving parent, don’t be abusive by giving your child everything and therefore taking away the greatest gift of all: responsible Independence.