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Monday, June 18, 2012

Parenting Adult Children

Adult children.  An oxymoron, if I ever heard one.  LOL  Two, soon to be three, of my kids are "adults," but what exactly does that mean?

Imagine your child's birthday is tomorrow, and it's 11:59 p.m.  At this minute in time he cannot open a checking account, get a credit card, vote, work certain jobs, undergo a medical procedure without your authorization (unless, of course, it's a abortion) or sign a contract.  If you refuse to feed, clothe, or shelter him, a social worker could come to your home and take him away.  But wait!  A minute has passed since I stared this paragraph.  Your child is now 18!  He is an adult!

So what does that mean?  Well, he can now legally do all those things I've mentioned above, and, if you so desire, you can kick him out of the house, and CPS can do nothing about it. :)  In the eyes of the law, your child now can now legally move out, get any job, get married, join the circus, or whatever he wants to do without your permission.  But can he get out of bed in the morning without you begging and screaming?  Can he manage his money?  His time?  Ah, those are the real questions, aren't they?

We all know that in this day and age most kids do not move out on their 18th birthday, get a job, a house, get married, and start a family all before their 19th birthday.  It might have been so in the past, but that is very rare now.  I realize there are some kids who go off to college, but they still technically aren't moved out of their parents' home.  They still have a room there, and a nice comfy bed that they return to during breaks and summers, and will most likely return to after they graduate for at least a little while.

So how do you parent these adult kids?  You can't just keep treating them like children, micro-managing their every move, or they will never grow up.  Still, you can't just kick them to the curb.  Society is just not set up to allow kids to become independent after high school.  Most jobs now require post-secondary education, and those that don't are hard to come by or simply don't pay enough.  Still, I wonder, even if it were possible, would my adult children be ready?

My oldest son is an amazing person is so many ways.  However, he can't seem to get himself up for work.  For the longest time I would set my alarm so I could wake him up.  I have given that up for the most part, but it kills me when I know he needs to get up but doesn't.  Sometimes I do end up waking him, but I do it less and less.  He seems to be doing better now that he knows he can't always count on me.  Still, it's not easy!

He also waits until the last minute to do anything.  When he has a school assignment with a due date, he reads it "do" date.  You know, if it's due on the 10th, that's when you do it. LOL  It drives me nuts.  Now, I know I am not the greatest at time management either, but yikes!  It's just so hard.

My two oldest kids have money management issues.  We try so hard to help them, but they just don't get it. Here we can't take a totally hands-off approach; they owe us money!

My third son is great with money (sometimes too great) and always gets himself up for work. (Thankfully, because he often works at 6:00 a.m.)  However, he still expects to be driven all over town whenever he wants to go somewhere, and finds it appalling that we want him to buy his own clothes and person toiletries. His famous line is, "I didn't ask to be born. You're the parents, you are supposed to take care of me." Okay, but for how long, son?  He'll be 18 in a couple months, and has more cash in the bank than we do.  I know other adult children who are living at home and who still have mommy and daddy buying everything for them because they don't have jobs.  Not gonna happen here.

It's the classic situation.  They want to be treated like adults.  We want them to act like adults.  They often act like children.  We often treat them like children.  I know most parents like to tell their kids that they'll be treated like adults when they act like adults, but maybe that's not the right strategy.  Perhaps treating them like adults, even when they act like children is better.  If they can't get out of bed, let them deal with the consequences.  If they run out of money, let them find a way to get somewhere when they don't have gas money.  When they refuse to buy their own deodorant, let them stink!  LOL

I certainly don't know all the answers.  It's very difficult to find a balance.  I would love to hear any advice from parents who have been there, or from adults whose parents actually did it right!  I still have five more kids, so maybe there's still hope that we can't figure this all out before the last one moves out.  If he moves out.  First he'll have to get out of bed.  ;)

Happy Parenting!

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