Being an Adult

I’m tired and frustrated. I am so tired of seeing and hearing about young people who want to be treated as adults but do not act like adults. I am so frustrated with almost-adults who have no concept of personal responsibility.

In my job, I sometimes work with collections for a university. It is amazing how many parents call wanting to “fix” things for their child. I’m not saying I haven’t tried to fix things for my kids, but I generally encouraged them to fix things on their own or at least tried to talk through options with them.

But here’s the rub – at some point, that child is no longer a child. He/she is signing contracts as an adult and Mommy and Daddy aren’t always going to be able to fix things. That online college application that “Little” Joey clicked through may well have been a signed contract agreeing to do X, Y and Z or pay a penalty.

We’ve all heard of helicopter parents. I get it. The parent doesn’t want the child to face dire consequences, doesn’t want the child to be hurt (physically or <GASP> emotionally). But it’s gone too far. Now there are snowplow parents who bulldoze a clear path for their kids. (sorry – kinda mixed my metaphors there, but you get my drift. Get it? Drift . . . Ha!).

Somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten that children grow into teens and then become adults. At what point do you clip the apron strings? Even worse, how does the child survive if he/she decides to sever those apron strings and launch into the world at 17 or 18? Does the mother who told me she had to pay someone to give her son a job really doing him any favors?

Mother Hen (courtesy of WANACommons)

Mother Hen (courtesy of WANACommons)

And so I offer these tips both for the parents trying to prepare kids to leave the nest, and for the kids who are flapping their wings.

Being an adult means:

  • Living on your own, whether it be an apartment or a dorm. A dorm isn’t totally like living on your own. It’s kind of like a halfway house for probationary adults.
  • Checking your mail. That’s how bills get to you. That’s also how you will receive old-timey communications like greeting cards.
  • Reading what you sign. Contracts and housing contracts aren’t going to be limited to 140 characters and they’ll contain actual words instead of “OMG, U R prolly going 2 B L8 w the rent & B evicted.”
  • Paying your own way. Your parents and student loans aren’t always going to be there to pay for your granite counter tops and flat screen TVs.