It is that time of year again. High school graduation is looming, and prom season is upon us. I am seeing a lot of folks on social media who have kids in their last year of high school, who are young adults, according to the laws of the land, getting ready to head out into the adult world of college and work. Suddenly, all those parents are lamenting that their baby is grown up and leaving them behind.
I didn’t. I mean, sure I would miss them being around all the time, but if you have done your job as a parent correctly, then it is time for junior to head out and grow up. As parents, we only have our children on loan anyway. The goal is to have them become adults with lives and families of their own, no matter what that family looks like. So why all the crying and wailing that they are doing exactly as they are meant to do?
Selfishness, perhaps. A feeling of losing control? Maybe feeling like your purpose is changing and it is something you aren’t ready for, nor is it something that you like? Well, heck, folks, you have had eighteen years to get used to the idea. I wanted my kids to grow up and get on with life.
Of course I worried, because, like most adults, I knew the things out in the world that could hurt them, drag them down, frustrate them, scare them, and annoy them. I knew they would have to pay bills, eat, clothe, and take care of themselves, without mommy and daddy to do it for them. I knew that they would have to figure out how to balance income versus outgo in their bank accounts, I knew they would need to understand credit cards are a financial trap. I knew they would need to understand how taxes work, and that they had to be aware of every penny they would have to pay, and how to do their taxes or who to take them to so they could be done correctly. I knew they would have to learn how to make a deal for a car, and what needed maintenance on a regular basis. I knew they had to know that making a decision about paying a debt or having fun wasn’t really a decision, other than to make sure the debt was paid first.
I knew that my child would no longer be a child to most people, but an adult student or employee. As such, they would be expected to act like an adult. That meant understanding that your boss is not your equal, nor is he or she your friend. Your boss tells you what to do, and like him or her or not, you will do what you are told. An adult works hard, and gets paid for said work. A student, if not paying their own way, is there to learn and do well in school so he or she can get a paying job in a career of their choice. They have one job. Graduate at the end of the four years. To do that, they have to stop playing like teenagers and start studying like it is a job.
If we have done our job as parents correctly, our kids will be ready to leave home and move forward in their lives. From teaching them how to cook, clean, and do laundry to teaching them how to deal with finances, bank books, and car maintenance, it is our job to make sure they know how to do everything an adult needs to do. If you have done that, and they have had part time jobs learning how to function in a work place and in public without being a childish brat, then they know the basics of being an adult. Bravo, you did it!
Now, all they need is more experience. The only place they are going to get that is outside your comfy nest. Be there if they sincerely need help, but encourage them to learn how to deal with life on their own. If they know Mom and Dad will fix everything, they will never learn to trust themselves to make a decision, and they will never truly leave home and become an adult. Let them go, let them learn. Love them as the adults they are and will be. Then go do something fun for yourself. You earned it.