Our kids are growing up in a completely different world than we did. Doesn’t matter whether you have a toddler or a teen, it’s not the same anymore.
I realized this as I was talking to my friend about her 18 year old son’s complete lack of desire to get a job and contribute to their living expenses. Many other people the country over are experiencing the same thing. It confused me because I was psyched when I turned 14 and could finally get a job. That first paycheck…oh my gosh, what a feeling! I wondered what it was that made me want to go to work at 14 that a legal adult nowadays would not have.
The things teens should be saving up for are handed over to them. Computer, X-box, Playstation, cell phone, clothes, games, DVDs, etc., are just given to them with absolutely no responsibility. Imagine for a second that you could live that way. You get what you want. You do what you want. You don’t have to work. You don’t have to pay for food, shelter, utilities, clothing,…you pay for nothing. You just traipse through life with no responsibilities.
It may seem nice (personally, I think it seems boring), but the fact is to live like that you have to be putting a strain on other people. Stuff does not materialize before you. The electricity that goes to the games isn’t a free service because the city thinks you’re so nice.
What did I have then, that kids do not have now? Respect for other people, specifically your own parents.
That is not all though. Getting a job was an awesome way to socialize. I worked with my best friend. That was awesome. I also got to work with some attractive people. That’s a bonus. I made even more friends through working with people. I met a bunch of people in the community and got to know them. Going to work was the only way that happened.
Teens don’t have that problem anymore thanks to the internet and cell phones. They are always connected, all the time, to everyone. Want to ask your friend for advice? You don’t have to wait until you see them. Grab your cell and shoot them a text or hop online and instant message them.
Parents are enabling their teens behavior and what is worse is that they feel bad if they don’t enable them. I have seen it a thousand times. Parents say, “I don’t want to hurt her feelings!” or “I’m scared he will hate me!” and lastly, “What if they stop loving me?” It has even been questioned, “How will my child survive?”
Here’s the scoop: The child is going to have hurt feelings. He or she is going to hate you. He or she is not going to stop loving you (yes, it is possible to love and hate someone at the same time). For the last question, did you survive without the frills? Then your child will, too.
I tend to coddle, but parenting teens requires tough love sometimes. I told my friend that she needed to block her wifi with a password and when dinner time came to feed her eldest a PB&J sandwich while the rest ate whatever she cooked. I told her to tell him that he could dine with them when he started contributing. Until then, she would allow him all the peanut butter, jelly, and bread that he could want. She asked if I would do that to my son.
Hell yes! If he was an adult without a job, living under my roof, using my stuff, absolutely. I will admit that it is hard for me to imagine. Sylar’s dad and I agreed on things long ago. We will spoil him, but only to an extant. I know most of his friends will be going to work so I am sure he will want to, as well. At a certain age, he will be expected to pay for at least part of his cell phone bill, any games he wants, and any gas he uses. As he grows, his responsibility increases.
No money for cell? It gets shut off. Didn’t do Wifi chores? No internet today. No gas money? Car stays here.
Lastly, if the adult child refuses to get a job, they get nothing. They do not get to use any computer, television, or phone in the house. They will have to wash their own clothes, but don’t let them use the detergent. If they want detergent, they will have to buy it. Out of toothpaste? Shampoo? They can buy it themselves. They can feast on ramen and PB&Js. If they want something with more sustenance, they can pay for the meal. They only places they can go are to stores where they are applying.
For most children, that is enough of an incentive. Who wants to be stuck with their family, with nothing to do, nothing to eat, and smelling bad?
Remember, you are not being a bad parent by doing these things. Without teaching your child how to live on their own, how they will survive if something happens to you? Some birds leap out of the nest on their own, but others need some help. The mama bird is not going to just let it sit there because she knows that is not in the best interest of her baby. It is important that he learn to fly so he can find food and escape predators. Do the same. Teach your child to live.
Found this book which some of you may find helpful – How to Raise Your Adult Children: Real Life Advice For When Your Kids Don’t Want to Grow Up.