The Adults We Are Creating

helicopterParentRecently I’ve heard stories about the way our kids are getting along in the “real world”. Not my kids, all kids. I’ve heard tales from a college source and tales from the job world. While some kids are doing just great others have not yet mastered what today’s reality is all about. I’m not talking about current events, I’m talking about dealing with day-to-day expectations and basically being self-reliant and able to cope with the “stresses” of daily life.

I’m not here to judge, only pass along some info that might give parents a different perspective on the outcome of some of the ways you are nurturing your kids. Here are a few examples:

  • A young woman shows up for a job interview – accompanied by her parents. (In all honesty, I think it was just her mother.) The parent proceeds to monopolize the interview. The person from human resources is dumbfounded. The manager for the department she wants to get a job in doesn’t know what to say or do. The interviewers act accordingly. They are cordial and proceed with the “interview”. Afterward they review what just happened and can’t believe that an adult would need to have her parent accompany her to a job interview. Who was at fault here? It’s your guess. Did the woman really need her parent to intervene? Was her mother “making sure” her daughter got the job? Obviously a parent who extolls the virtues of her child will ensure that said child lands the job, right?
  • Putting the odd interview aside, the woman mentioned above really does have the credentials to do the job. She is hired. She starts her new job. What happens next? Her mother calls at every opportunity to make sure her daughter made it to work. She drops off lunch. She calls multiple times during the day – for what reason, I have no idea. It’s starting to become apparent to her co-workers that she doesn’t enjoy all of this parental attention, yet she doesn’t know how to make it stop. Now… who is going to handle this delicate situation? Is it the responsibility of the employee to reign in her mother? Is it the responsibility of her employer to rectify the situation? Why should it be any employer’s task to deal with an employee’s parent? I know how this was handled. I’m not going to say. I want you all to think about the situation and how it came about. This connectivity between parent and child didn’t occur overnight. It was a long-standing way of interacting.
  • Kids grow up. They go off to college. It’s their first time living away from home. Ahhh, they no longer have to follow the rules of their household. They are independent and self sufficient. That’s what you’d think. I know of a young woman who resides in the dorm of her college. Her parents live a good 20 – 30 minutes away. Every morning like clockwork her mother arrives on campus to ferry her daughter in her car to her morning class. Why? I have no idea. As far as I’ve been told there is no physical reason for this. Her daughter is quite capable.
  • It’s snowing out.  The kids who live on campus are expected to go about their normal schedule. Anyone who has ever gone to college knows how hectic it can be. Snow just adds a little extra something to the mix. In their efforts to finish assignments, get dressed, eat, and get to class on time it is not unusual to expect your average student to not be thinking of checking in with their parents. Obviously this is not the logic that some parents follow. A barrage of phone calls start at the campus police department. Most of the phone calls go something like this, “It’s snowing out. I haven’t heard from my son/daughter. Would you go check on them?” The officer replies, “How long has it been since you’ve contacted your son/daughter?” Reply, “We spoke on the phone last night but I haven’t heard from them this morning.” Following protocol the officer can only respond by telling the parent that a lack of a phone call does not imply any form of distress. Even if it is snowing out. The parent requests that the police officer seek out their child in order to find out if they are okay or not because, you know, it IS snowing out. I know how this was handled. I’m not going to say. I want you to think about how this situation came about.
  • A young adult is pulled over for a potential traffic violation. Do they listen to the police officer? Do they answer any questions asked of them? Do they produce the proper identification and pertinent registration info requested? The answer may be yes, but it may also be yes “with a twist”. Okay, okay, they’ll give the police officer the info but not without a myriad of excuses why they shouldn’t be bothered. And when I say bothered I’m talking about a conceived state of being that entitles them to not follow laws, not respect authority, act as if any fingers being pointed in their direction are an act of unjustified persecution. They are autonomous. They are beyond reproach. The fact is that it is quite simple to establish whether they are in the wrong or not. They do have avenues to pursue if they think they are being treated unjustly. In this case though the person in question feels obligated to reprimand the police officer for his actions. Establishes their position by expressing their outrage and also following up with their intention of not paying a ticket. Inevitably there may also be the appearance of said scoundrel’s parent(s) at police headquarters. Their appearance includes yelling at the desk officer, waving the ticket in question in the air like a red cape in front of a bull, and informing those in authority that their child has the “right” to do as they please because they have paid a substantial amount of money for their child to attend this school. No… I’m not kidding here. This has happened. I know how this was handled. I’m not going to say. I just want you to think about how this situation came about.

What is the common denominator in all of these situations? For me, I’d say it’s the parents. All of the young adults in question are a direct product of their upbringing. They are not bad people. And for the most part I don’t think they went out of their way to do anything bad. They made a mistake. They accepted some not-so-great advice or followed a less than perfect example. They came to rely on their mentors – their parents. I’m not persecuting the parents here either. I’m sure they are all doing what they believe is in the best interest of their child. What is obvious to a third party reviewing these situations is that the parents involved have gone too far. They are too involved.

If you recognize yourself or someone you know from the situations I’ve just told you about I hope that it gives you pause. I hope that you reflect on the possibility that all of that help and concern and attention you have lavished on your child and continue to lavish on an adult is not necessarily helping them. Of course as a parent you want no harm to come to your child. It would be wonderful to take away any chance of discomfort for them. Practically speaking, isn’t it even better to teach them to be responsible. Choices – Consequences. I can think of no greater way of showing your love for your child than to be there for them when they make a mistake. Help them recognize where they went wrong. Support them as they rectify their situation. Like it or not, our kids are human. They do make mistakes. The best form your love can take is to let them know that it’s okay to make a mistake or fail. Let them know that no matter what you will be there to support them.

By Gret Boyd

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