July 7, 2006
July 7, 2006

Creating Responsible Adults

Have you heard remarks such as this from your offspring who is now a single parent and/or unemployed teen/adult?: “I deserve time off.” “I have a right to go to college (and not pay for it, nor pay room and board, nor watch my own child. -I might do you the favor to baby-sit.” “You are the grandparents. You should want to watch (full time) your grandchild(ren)” “Why do I have to do the laundry? (for myself and my offspring)” “ Why do I have to clean my room (or the house)?” Do these demands seem reasonable to you as responsible parents? How did this happen that more adult-children are remaining as dependent as a ten year old child?

Children have to be carefully taught to create self confident - independent people. If you did not start with letting your baby feed him/her self no matter how many times s/he mistook the hair, eyebrows,and ears for her/his mouth, then as delayed as it is, start now. Freedom with responsibility and consequences. Not just consequences. It means talking to your teen/adult about every aspect of the dangers or problems involved with their proposed or possible actions or inactions. Tough Love seems harsh, but if not experienced in the appropriate Developmental Stages of growth, one has no option, but to throw the adult into life and hope they survive. That is a scarier and more dangerous solution, yet it becomes the only one available if the adult is to experience life as a reality not a protected illusion from which they resentfully revolt.

It takes a great deal of guidance and many prayers to let go and let them experience situations. One would not expect a driver to drive without lessons, roller blade without hours of self training; and yet a parent will try to prevent (out of fear) allowing their progeny to test life experiences along with knowledge (you as a parent pass on to them) during formative years. Yet it is while they are young and there is still some control over the environment that it is vital for them to test their wings so to speak. It is better to make small mistakes than huge ones that can not be altered.

Another problem arises when the elder generation protects the younger from every financial and work related effort; the youthful adult loses confidence in his/herself. I remember after my husband retired he chauffeured me everywhere. When he died, I felt very shaky about resuming driving my own car. I got over it only by doing it. Your progeny will be stronger more resilient people when they do things for themselves.

As the eldest generation, do you want to support your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and perhaps since we are living longer than ever be responsible for your great-great-grandchildren?